Charlie Worsham Gets Schooled in Paying His Country Dues
Charlie Worsham doesn't mind being called a "country newbie," even though he's been writing and performing music since he was a little kid. The Mississippi native played the Grand Ole Opry when he was just 12 years old, shortly after winning a Junior National Banjo Championship. He continued honing his craft throughout his middle and high school years, but instead of making the move to Nashville after graduation, a scholarship and a thirst for more musical knowledge led him to the prestigious Berklee School of Music.
Charlie is well aware of the fact that his road to country stardom was the less traveled one. But he believes studying music versus playing in Music City honky tonks to be an equal playing field.
"There are so many more paths today for aspiring artists," he tells The Boot. "I never planned on it being that way, it just happened. A lot of things I'm experiencing on the road, in the studio and everywhere else, because of Berklee and my time there planning the move to Nashville, I hope I have a greater appreciation for opportunities and a greater understanding of the people around me."
Beyond his education, Charlie also exudes a great appreciation for paying his musical dues. He laughs about a gig he had with his high school band on a chicken wire-adorned stage at a club in West Helena, Ark. "They had a stainless steel dance floor, and they'd pour baking soda on the floor so that you can scoot on the dance floor," the singer-songwriter recalls. "We had four guys in the band and got paid $300 to play five hours, and a hotel room, which we all had to share. They didn't give us a tab, so even if I just wanted a coca cola, they made us pay for it.
"But I went to play for the troops once, and after seeing that ... I don't pay dues. I've had easier gigs and harder gigs, but a bad day doing what I'm doing is better than a good day for some other people. Going to Iraq was one of my favorite experiences. We got stuck for three days in a sandstorm. So they took us out and let us shoot 50 lb. machine guns and drive vehicles that we probably weren't supposed to drive!"
Now 27 and signed to powerhouse record label Warner Music Nashville, Charlie's hard work is paying off. He opened for Taylor Swift on one of the biggest tours in any musical genre in 2011. Last year, so many radio stations added his debut single, "Could It Be" right out of the box, that he became Country Aircheck's most-added male artist in a debut week. The infectious tune, which he co-wrote with Marty Dodson and Ryan Tyndell, set the tone for Charlie's upcoming debut album.
"It was the first thing the three of us ever wrote together," he explains. "Sometimes you get that feeling when you're writing that you've got something. Nine times out of ten, you have no idea, but we knew we had something. This song was like the first piece of the puzzle, and it kicked off the whole deal."
Watch the "Could It Be" video below, and click here to see a list of cities and dates where you can see Charlie play live.