Some life-changing moments are only apparent in retrospect. Brett Eldredge recognized his as it was happening. The Paris, IL native was at the Station Inn, an historic bluegrass/country venue, in Nashville. His cousin Terry, a veteran of Dolly Parton’s band and now a member of the Grascals, was playing with a band called the Sidemen, and a mesmerized Brett was in the crowd.
“He asked me to come up on stage and told me to pick a song to play with the band,” Brett said. “I said, ‘Amarillo By Morning,’ and when I heard that fiddle intro, chills shot up my spine. I sang it for the crowd there and it was a magical experience. That was the point where I thought, ‘This is it. This is something I’ve got to do.’”
The talent that let him turn that dream into reality the depth of his writing and the sheer power of his smoky and expressive baritoneare both apparent in his first single. “Raymond” is the poignant tale of a nursing home employee mistaken by a patient with Alzheimer’s for her deceased son, who was killed at war. It is a song whose inspiring reaffirmation of their mutual humanity is affecting listeners deeply. The single rings true for Eldredge, as his grandmother currently struggles through the disease.
“As a songwriter,” he says, “my aim is to portray a little bit of me and my life along with the stories of other people and turn them into something that can really touch somebody’s heart and soul. We sit down on Music Row every day and write songs and, every once in a while, a song like ‘Raymond’ comes from such a real place. I hope it’s that real to other people and that I can make them feel the way I felt when I wrote it and when I sing it.”
Judging from audience reaction, that’s exactly what he’s doing.