An aspiring musician tirelessly worked on his family farm in a small town in Illinois. Country breakout star Drew Baldridge was the small town boy who has always had his eye on the prize. While working alongside his brothers, he would hone in on his craft and pull inspiration from hitmakers like Brooks & Dunn, John Anderson, and Alabama to establish his own sound.
“I graduated high school with 22 kids before moving to Nashville,” shared Baldridge in an exclusive Celeb Secrets Country interview. “I just try to create music that people in my rural area can relate to. My small town upbringing definitely made me who I am, who I want to be, and I continue to write songs for those kind of people,” he adds.
Since arriving in the ten-year town – Baldridge never lost touch with his roots, as his music reflects real-life experiences and highlights his truthful, yet impactful storytelling abilities. Although Baldridge recently tied the knot with his wife Katherine, he constantly takes a trip down memory lane once in a while to write tracks that his audience could easily resonate with.
Therefore, Baldrige recently put pen to paper to create a breakup ballad, “Wontcha Come Back Home.” The lyric-driven melody tells a story about a girl who broke off a relationship. However, throughout the tear-jerking single – Baldridge and his talented co-writers Dylan Marlowe and Juno Bell perfectly executed the regret that an ex usually has after realizing the downfalls of the relationship.
“When I heard this recording of “Wontcha Come Back Home,” it just hit me in my core,” the singer told Celeb Secrets Country reporter Tiffany Goldstein. “I honestly got goosebumps, and I placed myself in that situation when I had been there before. I hope that people out there are feeling just like I am! You know, the attachment to the person that’s gone and wanting them to come back home.”
The relatable tune that displays his contagious sound and impressive vocal range comes from his other five hits that garnered over 120 million catalog streams. As an independent artist, Baldridge has made waves within the country music space – proving that he does not need a full-fledged team to catapult him to stardom. For instance, the singer-songwriter instantly became a social media sensation with 45 million impressions on TikTok alone and has performed over 200 dates in just 18 months.
With that being said, Celeb Secrets Country sat down (virtually) with Drew to talk about his fan-favorite single “Wontcha Come Back Home,” his record-breaking headlining tour, and to hear more about his 2022 plans. Keep scrolling and read the full Q&A below to learn more about Nashville’s most promising rising star.
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Celeb Secrets Country: Who is Drew Baldridge? Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Drew Baldridge: “I’m just a small town kid. It’s a town of about 570 people, and I graduated high school with 22 kids before moving to Nashville. I also grew up on a family farm. I just try to create music that people in my rural area can relate to. I just got married a couple of months ago. So, now I am a family man. My small town upbringing definitely made me who I am, who I want to be, and I continue to write songs for those kind of people.
I am from Southern Illinois – just about four and a half hours from Chicago. I think we only went up to Chicago maybe one time or something, and that was a big trip. We are only four hours from Nashville! We’re actually closer to Nashville than we weirdly are to Chicago. We were raised here in Southern Illinois on a family farm, and now my brother and my cousins all still farm, and I am kind of the black sheep that moved to Nashville to pursue music.”
Celeb Secrets Country: Tell us about your Nashville experience? Music City is known as a ten-year town and tends to be super competitive. What was it like for you to break into the industry?
Drew Baldridge: “I was really blessed! I moved down to Nashville in 2011. It’s been ten years now since I have lived here. I moved there, and in two and a half years, I and a publishing deal. Then two years after that, I ended up signing a record deal. I had a record deal for a little bit, and then I have just been independent for the last two years. It is definitely different timing for different people – everybody has their own speed of doing everything. I remember writing songs with Luke Combs five years ago, and I had a record deal, and he didn’t. He was trying to figure out why nobody wanted to sign him. He was like, ‘man, and nobody wants to sign me. They are all listening to my songs, and I can’t get Sirius XM or the Highway to play my “Hurricane” song.’
I just remember all those stories, and at that the time I did have a record deal, and now it’s reversed. Everybody just has different ways, and God’s got different timings for everybody in their career and their path. I think anybody out there who wants to be a musician or a singer-songwriter just got to know that their path will be different from the person sitting next to them.
I really believe that I built my career off of playing live. When I first started, streaming really wasn’t that big of a thing yet. I remember putting my first song up on iTunes by myself, which was huge! My own music out where people could download it was just WILD.”
Celeb Secrets Country: You recently made it big on TikTok – what inspired you to dabble in the powerful platform?
Drew Baldridge: “Last year, I decided I was going to dive into TikTok. I just started posting my music on there, and it started reacting in a big way. It was cool to see everybody relate to the music that we were writing and recreating. It’s just been a whirlwind last year and a half to have my own business of being my own independent artist and kind of calling the shots myself. It has been kind of exciting and also frustrating at times because you’re so tied to it. After all, there is really no team helping you. You’re kind of running on your own thoughts. We had a blessed last year and a half, as we have been on our “Baldridge and Bonfires Tour.” We have been out playing people’s backyards all around the country for the last year. We have done close to 200 of those, which have been wild and literally the most touring artist. We played 20 shows in just 19 days. We are driving five hours, stop playing a show, drive another five or six, play another show. It was exhausting, but it was so cool at the same time. We were just really blessed that we were still playing shows, and it was all through social media. People would just send me DM’s, and they weren’t calling my agent.”
CSC: Did you play only people’s backyards, or would you perform at local bars/ restaurants as well? Could you walk us through that?
DB: “So, they were all different! We loved it when they were in people’s backyards, but we definitely had some people who would contact us and be like, ‘hey, our bar shut down during COVID, and we want to have a private party for people that helped us s keep it open.’ So, we would go to the bar. We would also play tiny wedding venues! Every night was unique and special. People would have it in their backyard and invite their family, invite their friends, and people would invite us to sit down and eat with them and just hang out.
Next year we are starting back up to play actual venues and stuff. It’s been a special year of touring, and I just never thought that we would ever do something like this, where I would just drive around.”
CSC: You are also a country radio show host – tell us about this side hustle?
DB: “So, I do the weekend show! There is a radio station out in California called Go Country 105. and it’s a pretty cool radio station. Michael Levine, the guy that owns the station, just called me around this time last year and said, ‘Hey! We are looking for a country artist to host our weekends.’ Now, I have NEVER done radio in my life….but, everybody over there loves it! I have been doing it for the last few months, and it’s been really awesome. I get to talk about all my stories of my friends and play their music. I started my own little podcast, where I interview my friends as well. Just a few weeks ago, I sat down with Russell Dickerson.”
CSC: Do you find that your radio job has helped you in your music career?
DB: “I definitely think it has in different ways! On the radio station, I get to talk about my songs coming out, my videos that are out, and I get to reconnect with friends. For instance, during COVID – when we couldn’t see them, I saw all Nashville artists and talked to them. On the other side, I was doing the interviewing. So, just being on that other side of it is sometimes eye-opening and seeing what your job’s like. You know, preparing for interviews is TOTALLY different. I dive into all the other artist’s stuff. I just take a backseat to my own artistry, and I am really learning about them.
It’s definitely helped my career and broadened my horizons to country radio. I have always loved country radio, but I never dreamed I would be on air talking about it.”
CSC: Would you like to get signed, or do you love being an independent artist? Where would you like to see yourself in the near future?
DB: “I feel like the only way to take it to the next level is finding a partner. I really want a label deal, and I just haven’t had anybody sign me yet. We just haven’t had any big believers or champions behind what we have been doing. It’s been pretty wild to me because I feel like we were going to jump right out of my old record deal into a new one. The old record company I was on there was really great to me. The guy that owned the label just didn’t want to be in music anymore. I thought we were going to jump right into another record deal, but then COVID hit, and nobody could take meetings.
To be honest, we haven’t had anybody that been like excited, and we just can’t get anybody in
Nashville is excited about it. I had had several labels call out in LA when our songs on TikTok started taking off. Listen, I’m a country boy, and I make my music for country folks – that’s where I am rooted and live there. I write songs there, and I have all my family and friends in Nashville. This is where I hope to be on the big stage and be a signed artist one day.
Right now, independently, we had over a hundred million impressions on TikTok alone in a year, and now our streams have been taking off. I think four or five months – we garnered over 30 million streams that we have done…we can reach people like that! That’s what I have always dreamed of doing. So, if it’s with the label or without the label, I will always be creating. I am always going to be putting music out for my fans. I am just trying to create the best music, and hopefully, down the road, a partner label will come along.”
CSC: Walk us through the inspiration behind your recent single, “Wontcha Come Back Home“?
DB: “We just released a new song called “Wontcha Come Back Home.” The first day we wrote it, I penned it with Juno Bell and Dylan Marlowe. I mean, he’s starting to take off now, and I am so happy for him. Dylan kind of came in with this little melody, and we didn’t know where it was going.
We sat down, we wrote it pretty quick, and I went back and played it for my publisher. She was like, ‘oh my goodness, I love that chorus.’ And I was like, ‘well…that means you don’t like her verses.’ So, I sat back down in my living room, and I just started writing that first verse out. I just try to be as real and honest as I can when creating music, and I just try to put myself in the story. Most of this stuff I have been through, we have all been through. For example, a heartbreak!”
CSC: How would you like your fans to feel when they listen to “Wontcha Come Back Home” for the very first time?
DB: “If I am not moved emotionally when I hear a song in some sort of way – musically or lyrically… I’m not putting it out. When I heard this recording of “Wontcha Come Back Home,” it just hit me in my core. I honestly got goosebumps, and I placed myself in that situation when I had been there before. When I listen to Eric Church’s music, I feel it in my core…like down in my gut.
So, I hope that people out there are feeling just like I am! You know, the attachment to this person that’s gone and they want them to come back home. I have had so many people send me messages that have different stories. It’s supposed to be authentic so people can relate to it in the way that it’s intended for.”
CSC: Since we are Celeb Secrets, do you have any secrets about “Wontcha Come Back Home” that might surprise us fans?
DB: “So, this music video… we were going to put it out on the day that we released the track. I haven’t told anybody this yet, but it just didn’t look right. So, we are actually going back in to change the music video. I haven’t told anybody that we are going back in to change the music video up a little bit to try to get the story across better.”
CSC: Besides your music video coming out for “Wontcha Come Back Home,” what else should us fans look out for?
DB: “Fans should be looking out for tour dates for 2022! I have been talking to some friends, and there might be a co-headline tour with another friend of mine that we are talking about doing in February. Also, be on the lookout for full-band performances because that will be coming in 2022.
We are also already planning on getting back in the studio, and that’s kind of what I have been just focused on. When I get a song that I love, I just jump in the studio and record it. We are really loving what we are writing right now, and I got a lot that I am really, really excited about! So, be prepared for new singles, new videos, all that stuff in 2022.”