Craig Campbell may have broken the Top 15 with 'Family Man,' and released self-titled debut album this week, but the Georgia native credits his late sister and first guitar as the reasons for his success.

"Mama had a piano, but I always wanted to play guitar," Craig tells The Boot from his tour bus as it traveled near Cheyenne, Wyo. "I never had the money to buy one and I didn't know if I'd be any good at playing it anyway. So I entered my very first singing contest when I was 15 years old: the Jimmy Dean True Value Country Showdown."

Although Craig had spent many hours singing and playing piano at Lyons, Ga., Baptist Church, he was a bit hesitant about entering the local contest. The enthusiasm of his oldest sister, who has since passed away, spurred him on. "She was very encouraging and talked me into doing it: helped me pick my songs," he says. "I had someone in my corner pushing me."

The competition was held on two Saturday nights, and at the preliminary event, Craig sang Travis Tritt hit 'Foolish Pride.' At the final showdown, he sang 'A Great Memory,' dressed in a light blue, button-down shirt with the sleeves ripped off, reminiscent of the shirt John Michael Montgomery wore when he filmed the video for the tune.

"The first prize was $200 and a guitar," Craig says. "I won!"

A few years later, Craig sold his prize, a Oscar Schmidt guitar, to a long-time friend. Just about the time he was contemplating record deals, Craig had a change of heart. "I woke up one morning and just wanted it," Craig explains. "I called my buddy and he said, 'I'm not gonna take your money.' I had some work done on it and it sounds amazing.' I wrote some of my very first songs on that guitar."

Craig is on tour. His next scheduled concert is April 12 in Omaha, Neb. For more dates and details, check here.

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