Frankie Ballard

By Bob Doerschuk

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

His soul is Country. His style is to play loud and raw. His voice is husky and hard, toughened perhaps by rocking rough-and-tumble clubs near his hometown of Battle Creek, Mich. And in his slashing guitar, there’s a heavy dose of Southern rock flavored by the blues, as if Jerry Reed and Johnny Winter were jamming ZZ Top songs with Waylon Jennings.

Put it all together and you’ve got Frankie Ballard, whose music grabs the listener by the shoulders and yells, “It’s time to tear it up!” Ballard started singing at age 5, when his dad began spinning Elvis records for him. Still, he devoted most of his time to sports until he turned 18, when he first picked up a guitar. With ferocious dedication, Ballard woodshedded for hours every day, until he felt strong enough to land gigs at Motor City blues venues. His chops and stage presence grew to the point that in the summer of 2008 he won Kenny Chesney’s “Next Big Star” regional competition for Michigan.

After opening for Chesney in Grand Rapids and Detroit, Ballard scored a publishing deal with Sony ATV Music Publishing and a record label deal with Warner Bros. Records. Relocated to Nashville in April 2009, he connected with some of the top local songwriting talent and eventually started turning the results into the sizzling set to be featured on his upcoming self-titled debut album, produced by Michael Knox.

Written by Dallas Davidson and Marty Dodson, Ballard’s first single and music video, “Tell Me You Get Lonely,” starts quietly with a beat that intensifies as it locks onto a steady medium pace. His vocal is rough but expressive, and on the harmonies in the chorus he maintains that feel while hitting his parts flawlessly. Other tracks crank it up (“While the Sun Sleeps,” by Rhett Akins, Davidson and Ben Hayslip) or slow it down to a last-call plea from one who’s sipped too much but loved not enough (“Sober Me Up,” by Davidson and Ashley Gorley). In all settings, Ballard tempers heartache with humor and lets his guitar tell the story too.

IN HIS OWN WORDS Q&A

MUSICAL HERO
“Elvis Presley.”

DREAM DUET PARTNER
“Travis Tritt.”

FAVORITE FOOD ON THE ROAD
“Texas BBQ.”

FAVORITE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION
“Horseback.”

PET PEEVE
“People who say ‘I could care less.’ It’s couldn’t!”

PHRASE YOU SAY OVER AND OVER
“Let’s melt some faces off!”

On the Web: www.FrankieBallard.com

Frankie Ballard photo by Clay Patrick McBride/Provided by Country Music Association

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