By Melody Vallieu
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — On the heels of three No. 1 hits and his new release, “It All Started With a Beer,” available today, Frankie Ballard has to admit life is going pretty well.
The singer-guitarist has seen nothing but success with his last album Sunshine & Whiskey, delivering consecutive No. 1 smashes, including “Helluva Life,” “Sunshine & Whiskey” and Young & Crazy.”
Ballard, who will perform along with Randy Houser’s “We Went” Tour on Nov. 21 at Hobart Arena, Troy, is quick to point out, he hasn’t been afraid to put the work in that has brought him success.
Hailing from Kalamazoo., Mich., Ballard said during a phone interview Thursday that he comes from a working class family with parents who were relentless in the idea that they wanted to provide a good life for him and his sisters.
“I watched them do that all through my childhood and therefore, was never afraid to get my hands dirty and work hard for something that I wanted,” said Ballard, who has sold more than 1.5 million tracks to date. “It’s helped me to stay at it and keep pushing and never worrying about hearing the word no — and just waiting for for someone to say yes.”
Ballard said not being afraid of hard work — and even some rejection — certainly has helped give him the strength to keep fighting for his dreams.
“It certainly has helped me a lot in my career,” Ballard said of his blue-collar background. “The music business is tough and it can get you down, it can beat you up a little bit and it can test your moxie.”
Ballard said he has been singing and performing for as long as he can remember.
“Since I was young. My dad and I were kind of the family entertainment. I did all the Elvis moves and stuff like that at Thanksgiving — kept the family laughing and entertained,” Ballard said. “I’ve always felt like sort of the court jester in that sort of way.”
The 32-year-old said while attending college, he started writing and would perform at coffee houses and open jams, playing some of his own music and “testing the waters.”
“Something happens when you start to create things, you immediately want someone to tell you whether or not it’s good, so you have to get it out there,” he said.
From there, he said he put a band together about 12 years ago and never looked back.
“I’ve just been trying to win more fans and make better music ever since,” said Ballard, who has previously opened for Taylor Swift, Jake Owen, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney and longtime idol Bob Seger.
The songwriter said he always has considered himself a storyteller, and pulls his blues-infused lyrics from his own personal experiences, as well as those around him.
“They are from my own trials and tribulations, or those that I have witnessed in my friends’ lives, in my family’s lives. The emotions of the world we all deal with,” Ballard said. “You know, I always kind of have an ear to the ground and I’m sensitive to those things and I’m always seeing those things. I try and stay there in the songs because it seems like the most honest place for me to operate from.”
Considered one of the best dressed country music artists on the red carpet, Ballard said his style is “old school.”
“I idolized a lot of guys from the ’50s and there’s just something about the old school style — from casual wear to formal wear — that I’ve always enjoyed looking at,” Ballard said. “I think when it comes time to getting dressed in the morning, it’s from my old school sensibilities.”
As Ballard, said to be “required listening” by Rolling Stone magazine, continues down the path to stardom, he said he is most thankful for the fans who have allowed him to share his music on their radios, in their homes and cars, or wherever they turn it on.
“Music is for people to use and enjoy and be inspired to,” he said. “I love that I get to do what I get to do, but it’s really not about me. It’s about the people enjoying the music, and if they don’t like your music — if they don’t need your music — if they don’t wait for the next stuff that you put out, you don’t have a career.”
Ballard’s newest single, “It All Started With a Beer” makes its premiere on country radio today, and is the beginning of his newest album, recorded in Texas and yet to be named.
“It’s a love story. It’s about how sometimes the biggest things in life — the things that we inevitably hang our hats on and hitch our wagons to, if you will, those big, macro things — sometimes have the smallest, most humble beginnings,” he said. “This song is about a relationship that is clearly very important, but it started very simply and very small — with just a beer.”
During his Nov. 21 performance at Hobart, along with guest Craig Campbell, Ballard promises a high-energy night dedicated to the ticketholders.
“We’re gonna try and give you a good show. We’re going to really entertain you guys and bring whatever stresses and pressures you have in your life off the table and let you just enjoy some music for one night,” he said.
He said the trio of performers will be bringing some new and some old music — and everything in between.
“Hopefully we are going to get people dancing and having a great time,” Ballard said. “I can’t wait to come and rock with y’all.”