Jerrod Niemann has finally had the year he spent most of his life dreaming about. The Kansas native, who began writing songs as a child, spent more than a decade pounding the pavement in Nashville, attempting to get a record deal. He watched his first single, 'Lover, Lover,' soar to No. 1, and its follow up, 'What Do You Want,' climb the chart, where it's currently on the verge of breaking the Top 10.

"It's so bizarre how everything happens so quickly and you don't have time to even stop and turn around and be like, 'Wow, that's so amazing,'" Jerrod tells CMIL. "Although you're very aware of it and you are thankful for every moment that you get. Things happen in such a quick manner that you've got to be looking ahead or you're just gonna lose your ground and forget that the world's ahead of you."

The singer-songwriter has been spending most of his days on the road, and hasn't had much time to appreciate his new role as a bona fide star. "It's nice when you do get a few days off to just close your eyes and think about all those things," he acknowledges. "You can really get pretty worked up when you think about it. You're a child dreaming about that so for long and then it happens. It's surreal."

Jerrod spent much of the last few years writing, and occasionally performing, with good friends Jamey Johnson and Randy Houser. "I'm hoping that I can contribute to what they're doing as well," Jerrod acknowledges, "and continue to make great music and at the end of the day. Hopefully [I can] make country music just as strong or stronger."

The threesome may all show up on the same chart, but Jerrod insists there is not even a hint of friendly rivalry. "You look at The Highwaymen and some of the guys that influenced all of us throughout the town: everybody's stronger as a team and you can accomplish a lot more," Jerrod adds. "I like that Jamey didn't forget about his friends and Randy didn't."

Jerrod will hit the road this Thursday (March 10) for the Higher Education tour, that he is co-headlining with Lee Brice. "Here's the ironic part about the whole thing," he notes. "It's me and Lee and it is called 'Higher Education.' So of course people are expecting a bunch of drunk people and people falling off the roof of the building. That's possible, I'm not going to discount that. But I will say that we intend on putting together the best show that we're capable of."

With two headliners, the obvious question is who will take the stage first -- Jerrod or Lee? "We've got some tricks up our sleeves to pull that off," he hints. "We're gonna try to make every night unique. One of the things we're probably gonna do is a coin toss. We're gonna let someone from the audience flip a coin to decide who goes first."

The Higher Education tour runs through April 28, which will allow Jerrod a month off before he hits the road with Brad Paisley on the H20 II World Tour. Keep track of his schedule here.

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