Brantley Gilbert Ready to Throw His Own ‘Party’
Before Jason Aldean took 'My Kinda Party' into the Top 10 on the country singles chart, another Georgia boy claimed the tune -- singer-songwriter Brantley Gilbert. Brantley, who is the sole writer on the song, recorded 'My Kinda Party' for his 'A Modern Day Prodigal Son' album a few years back. The song caught the ear of Jason last year as he headed into the studio to begin work on his latest album, which he eventually named after the party anthem. Jason was already familiar with the young artist-on-the-rise and his work, as he cut another one of Brantley's tunes, 'The Best of Me,' on his third album, 'Wide Open.'
"I met [Jason's record producer] Michael Knox a couple of years ago, and he took Jason my first CD," Brantley tells The Boot of his introduction to the star. "He also cut another one of my songs, 'Dirt Road Anthem,' on his new album. I just can't believe that he has cut three of my songs. It blows me away. I'm just glad they're ending up in the hands of a Georgia boy!"
Brantley's new album, 'Halfway to Heaven,' was released in March of this year, and has produced two hits for the singer thus far: 'Kick It in the Sticks' (which he co-wrote with two-thirds of the Nashville writing team known as the Peach Pickers, Ben Hayslip and Rhett Akins) and his current single, 'My Kind of Crazy.' After its release, 'Halfway to Heaven' immediately went to No. 1 on Billboard's Heatseekers Album Chart across all genres and peaked at No. 2 on the iTunes Country Albums Chart.
Brantley's love of music began when he was in college but his heart was being pulled in two directions. "I was kind of torn between playing music or playing college football. I was going to college and really focusing on my music career."
It wasn't until he met another Georgia musician, Cory Smith, who took young Brantley under his wing and out on tour. "I was out on the road with him for two or three years after college," recalls Brantley. "When I went out on the road with him, I really started leaning toward music more and more."
However, Brantley's musical journey almost didn't have a chance to blossom. In 2005, he was involved in a near-fatal car accident. "When I had my wreck, it really just put everything into perspective and really opened my eyes," the 25-year-old says. "I've always been one of those guys that thought 'it will never happen to me.' [laughs] After that, everything really flipped on me. When I realized that it could, I wanted to do what made me the happiest with the time I had. I didn't know how long I had anymore. It put everything into perspective and kind of motivated me."
Brantley's music has stayed true to who he is as an artist, as he sings about real-life experiences of love, the strength of redemption and all the things "tough guys" and Georgia boys love to do. It's also through his music and songwriting that Brantley is able to retrieve bits of his past he's had a difficult time recalling due to head injuries suffered during the accident.
"I lost a little bit of memory in that wreck," he notes. "The songs that I've written have brought a lot of that back. It brought back some good memories – it brought back some bad ones, too – but it brought back a lot of good memories that reminded me of who I was."
A self-professed "mama's boy" who hasn't strayed far from home since breaking into the music business, Brantley still resides in his hometown of Jefferson, Ga., located just outside Athens. With the holidays right around the corner, Brantley looks forward to spending some much needed time off the road and with the people who mean the most to him.
"I always go to my mom's house for Christmas," Brantley says with a smile. "This will actually be my first Christmas without her and my dad being together because they just got divorced, so I reckon it will be me, my brother, Coby, and Mom. We go over to her house, and she always buys us pajamas. I don't understand it, but she always buys us matching pajamas. We feel like dorks! [laughs] She makes Christmas so memorable every year. She stays up, waits until we fall asleep, and still pulls the whole Santa thing. She's a sweetheart, though. She's my angel."
Brantley will remain on the road through December 18 before heading home to Georgia for the holidays.