There are numerous varieties of country music that’s out on the scene these days. Some artists are considered to be more traditional than others, and many teeter on the verge or are pop crossovers. Many country music fans are looking for a new age artist to latch on to that represents the traditional golden era of country music radio. Enter Craig Campbell….The voice is straight-forward and powerful. The songs are down-to-earth portraits of real people from the American heartland. The sound is traditional, unapologetic country. Craig Campbell is a proud reminder of one of country’s strongest creative periods, building on the early-‘90s legacy established by some of the genre’s most successful figures: Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Clint Black and Travis Tritt.
For those of you who have yet to experience any of Campbell’s music, we strongly urge you to check out his self-titled debut album. Campbell co-wrote the collection of 11 songs that include the hit singles “Family Man,” “Fish” and “When I Get It.”
Campbell was gracious enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to speak with us here at Suitably Southern and we’re happy to share with you a summary of our exchange with the Country Star…
SS: Being a country music artist/star has always been a dream of yours, what’s your favorite aspect of it?
CC: “For me, it has to be performing. It’s amazing for me to go to a new city, a new place we’ve never been before, and to see that my music is connecting with and reaching people I’ve never met from all over the country. That’s a really cool thing.”
SS: Be it that you’re a singer and songwriter, do you prefer one over the other?
CC: “I think both have their place in the process and I enjoy both of them for various reasons. I love the creative process of songwriting and putting pieces of my life and experiences that I hope will connect with others into words. And I got to tell you, there’s no substitute for performing. The feeling of being on that stage is amazing and I love it.”
SS: Who are your biggest inspirations and influences?
CC: “I have a number of influences. I grew up on country music, gospel, southern rock and more. I think for me the most impressionable time was the late 80’s and early 90’s. Kind of a golden era of country music radio. Some of my major influences are artists like Travis Tritt, Alan Jackson, Shenandoah, and of course you have Strait among others. I guess most of all it’d be Travis Tritt because he can do everything. He can sing country, blue grass, gospel you name it. Basically he can sing it all and make it unique to him and I have a ton of respect for that.”
SS: You can definitely hear that in your songs and performances. For you, what’s your favorite song that you’ve written and favorite to play?
CC: “Man each song has a purpose for me. They’re all special for different reasons because they represent a part of me. I guess specifically “Family Man” is always going to have a special place for me and I doubt I’ll ever get tired of playing it. I love performing “Fish” live and the crowd really seems to feed off of it and we can really get after it and have some fun. Like I said I have appreciation for all of them, but those two will always stand out.”
SS: Random question, if you were cast to perform on CMT Crossroads, who would you like to be paired up with?
CC: “Hmm, I think’d be really cool to match up with Boyz II Men.”
SS: Really? Huh why is that?
CC: “Well there’s a couple of reasons. They grew up on gospel music and so did I so there’s the common background there. They were huge when I was growing up and have some great songs. Their harmonies are absolutely stellar and always on point and I think it would be really cool to join in with them and have them pick up on my songs as well.”
SS: Fair enough. At Suitably Southern, we like to discuss all things Southern so we’re curious about some of your favorites. What’s your favorite southern meal?
CC: “Oh man, depends on what day of the week it is. I like anything my mama cooks. We’ve always grown our own veggies, so I love fresh or fried greens, roasted potatoes and fried thin cornbread. You know the kind you can almost see through.”
SS: What’s your favorite place to vacation in the south?
CC: “I’m not much of a beach guy, so when my wife and I get away with the girls we love to get up in the mountains. A lot of times we’ll go up to Helen, Georgia, Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg in Tennessee. I like going to quiet spots that are family oriented where we can get out and do stuff. If I’ve got a Jacuzzi and something to drink, I’m good to go.”
SS: Let’s talk sports; do you have a favorite sport and team that you follow?
CC: “Man I can tell ya, I’m a diehard Falcons fan. I mean the cups that we drink out of at my house are Falcons cups from games. Growing up in a smaller town, I’ve always liked football so I support the local team Toombs County High School and that definitely leads me to watch and support the Georgia Bulldogs. I don’t know what else to tell ya, I’m all Georgia for sure.”
SS: You’ve got a classic southern look and style, seems to suit your lifestyle, what are the things that drive your taste?
CC: “Well for one thing, I wear a cowboy hat. Not a ton of people do that anymore. You’ve got Aldean, Chesney and others but some are going to the ball cap thing. I was taught a long time ago that you’re not supposed to be better dressed than the artist performing at the show, so I do my best to embody that. It’s how I was brought up. When it comes to my style, I like a good pair boots, jeans, dress shirt, cowboy hat and jacket.” Not only do I want to put on a good show, I want to represent who I am while I’m doing it.”
SS: What’s your favorite hobby or hobbies outside of music?
CC: “Well we actually get an opportunity to get out a play a little bit of golf on the road and I love doing that. We also play a lot of cornhole and we have a lot of fun. When I’m home I like to get out and go to the pool or play on the trampoline with my girls. I also like to get out and ride my Harley. So there’s a couple of different things that are fun to get out and do as often as I can.”
SS: There always has and will be a sense of southern pride for folks from the south, what’s your favorite part about being a southerner and living a southern lifestyle?
CC: “I think, for me, it’s the honesty. I really appreciate the values that are important to folks from the south. My stepdad taught me a long time ago, that when you shake a man’s hand, you look him in the eyes, and you mean it. Whatever it is, you mean it. It’s the honesty to tell the truth, that’s the main thing. Whether the truth is brutal or not, you still give and get it because it’s the right thing to do and the way things should be.”
SS: What’s a question you’re never asked that you wish you were, so you can share the information with your fans?
CC: “One thing that I do for now, and hope to be able to do as long as possible is update my own Facebook and Twitter pages. I think some people think it’s just someone else who’s part of a team managing it, but I like to stay as in touch with the fans as possible. So if you see anything on there, it’s me. I enjoy the interaction and try to update it as much as possible.
SS: Last but not least, what’s next on top for a rising country music star?
CC: “Man we’re excited to get started on a new project in addition to continuing to be out on the road and performing at fairs, honkytonks and other shows. We’re hoping to get started on the new album over the next 4-6 weeks and maybe get a new single out in August.