In a largely dormant year for many, emerging star Jameson Rodgers managed to land his first No.1 single on country radio with “Some Girls” from his seven-track EP, In It For The Money, which he released in April 2021. After garnering millions of streams on his still-climbing track, “Cold Beer Callin’ My Name,” featuring Luke Combs, Rodgers kicked off his headlining tour of the same name on August 6.
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On September 17, Rogers dropped his debut full-length Bet You’re From a Small Town as a culmination of his experience thus far that hurled him headfirst into these last several months of milestones.
As a native of Batesville, Mississippi, the artist’s defining sound is a continuation of the ‘90s country tradition on which he was raised. It was the Travis Tritt tracks and Alan Jackson albums that laid the foundation of his country music influence, but classic rock records like AC/DC and John Mellencamp expanded his sonic palette. Things changed when Rodgers heard Eric Church traversing the territory between the two. He played Church’s debut Sinners Like Me LP over and over for years in his truck, until he finally drove it to Music City.
“When I heard it, I was like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that was a lane you could do as a songwriter or an artist,'” Rodgers tells American Songwriter. “And so it inspired me to really chase it.”
When he arrived in Nashville in 2010, he didn’t know exactly which path he would take. “I just knew I loved music,” says Rodgers. “Whether that be a songwriter or an artist—I think ultimately deep down always wanted to be an artist. But when I moved here I realized pretty quickly that I was gonna have to figure out how to write better songs.”
This meant years of hard work and late nights at writer’s rounds around town. He would even return to Missippi to play acoustic shows. Keeping his head down for the first five years eventually landed him a publishing deal with Combustion. To get the ball rolling, he and his team selected four of their favorite songs that sounded characteristic of Rodgers’s work and released them as his self-titled debut EP in 2016.
A highlight of the introductory EP was his hit single, “Midnight Daydream.” He adds, “That song opened so many doors for me, and it all kind of went from there.”
As the Nashville songwriting fable goes, the more songs you write, the better your odds of getting cuts. This held true for Rodgers. With a publishing deal came more opportunities to write with more songwriters. Though he’s crossed off many of his bucket list co-writes over the years—getting together with legends like Rhett Akins, Ashley Gorley, and Craig Wiseman—Rodgers is most proud of the success he’s had with friends and industry peers.
“Coming up with [Michael] Hardy, Josh Miller, Jake Mitchell, Hunter Phelps, and all those guys, it was like we came up together as a class,” says Rodgers. “We started out having some success together as writers and then now, a few of us are sharing success as artists, too. So it seems like the stars have aligned for me as a writer and as an artist over the years. But the coolest part of my story is that pretty much all the success I’ve had has been with my class of buddies.”
One of his most notable No.1 singles was Chris Lane’s “I Don’t Know About You,” which he co-wrote with Gorley, Hardy, and Phelps. But beyond cuts with, and by his heroes, the majority of his traction was bred organically from his evolving relationship with co-writers who became close friends and colleagues.
Bet You’re From a Small Town showcases the relationships on which his career hinges. Rodgers wrote 14 songs from the 15-track project. And a majority of those songs, he says, came from the last two or three years of his annual writing retreat he and his friends attend at a cabin in East Tennessee. “It was just magic in the air there I guess,” he says. “It’s just something special about that place.”
As for his song selection process, Rodgers insists he simply stepped his best foot forward. These tracks are the demo tapes that he kept in his truck for further listening after co-writes. His draw—weeks, months, or even a few years down the road—to these tapes served as a solid indicator of what he felt may also resonate with his listeners.
“Hopefully, people hear a little bit of all that in my music,” he says. “And I hope people know that it’s genuine, it’s straight from my heart. I’m just a small-town boy from Mississippi; I’m not trying to be anything other than that. And I write songs that make me feel something, so it’ll make other people feel something.”
Standing in the spotlight, Rodgers speaks to his younger self and those wishing to follow a similar trajectory as a songwriter or country artist with some sage wisdom.
“I’m not saying I did it perfect,” says Rodgers. “But I think, find other writers and artists in Nashville that you vibe with and think the same way and feel the same way about songs, that might be the most important thing you could ever do. Because this town is impossible to conquer by yourself. So I would say definitely find a group of people that you can come up with, and win together and lose together, and just focus on writing great songs. A great song takes care of literally everything else.”
Currently headlining his Cold Beer Calling My Name Tour 2021 through December, which includes his first-ever headlining show in New York City, plus stops in Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. before wrapping with a two-night stand at Nashville’s storied Exit/In. Support on select dates includes Drew Green, Brandon Lay, Drew Parker, Hunter Phelps, Jordan Rowe, and Sarah Allison Turner.