Craig Campbell

By Bob Doerschuk –

© 2011 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc. –

Old-school Country finds a new champion in Craig Campbell. His songs and his warm but rugged singing feel like a friendly conversation. The passion of Travis Tritt and the entire body of Alan Jackson’s work made their marks on Campbell. In his first single, “Family Man,” which Campbell wrote with Jon Henderson and Joel Shewmake, the lyric, the voice and even the steely piano tone pay homage to Jackson while also defining Campbell’s distinctive style.

Born in Lyons, Ga., Campbell grew up on Southern gospel. He was just 10 years old when he began playing piano during services three times a week at a local Baptist church; he learned about harmony by listening to his mother singing hymns. But a chance exposure to Country on the radio flung open a new window of possibility. At 15, he entered the Jimmy Dean/True Value Country Showdown, his first talent competition — and the first that he won.

In 2002, Campbell moved to Nashville, got a day job and started playing at The Stage on Broadway. He toured as well, backing Luke Bryan and Tracy Byrd. And after Keith Stegall caught his act in August 2008, he signed with the producer’s Bigger Picture Group record label and the two hit the studio.

Campbell is co-writer on nine of his self-titled debut album’s 11 tracks. His songs play out easily, whether with a sly humor (“Fish,” which he penned with Arlos Smith and Ashe Underwood), an amiable insight into surviving hard times (the catchy “When I Get It,” with Jason Matthews and Jim McCormick), a reverence for lessons learned and passed along (“My Little Cowboy,” with Dan Couch) or pride in the values of the life he lives (“That’s Music to Me,” with Carson Chamberlain and Tim Nichols). Campbell knows how to tell a story in song, coaxing smiles and a tear or two along the way, as he demonstrates this summer on Willie Nelson’s “Country Throwdown Tour.”

IN HIS OWN WORDS Q&A

CD IN YOUR STEREO
“Mine … shhhh.”

FIRST GIG
“A place called The Yo-Yo … redneck!”

MOMENT YOU WOULD RELIVE
“The birth of my babies Preslee and Kinni. There is no sweeter sound than hearing your babies cry for the first time.”

GREATEST PERFORMANCE TO DATE
“My Grand Ole Opry debut on Oct. 8, 2010. Come on, it’s the Grand Ole Opry. Enough said.”

SOMETHING WE’D NEVER GUESS ABOUT YOU
“I count steps as I go up and down stairs.”

On the Web: www.CraigCampbell.tv

Craig Campbell photo by Greg Manning/provided by Country Music Association

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