Artist Profile: Brantley Gilbert
NAME: Brantley Keith Gilbert
DATE OF BIRTH: January 20, 1985
HOMETOWN: Jefferson, Georgia
SOUND: Country rock with elements of hip hop.
BIOGRAPHY: Brantley Gilbert was born in the heart of Georgia, where for a brief time he was a special-needs counsellor at Friendship Elementary School, before a near-fatal truck accident at the age of 19 convinced him to move to Nashville to pursue his dream of being a country songwriter. He signed with Warner Chappell Publishing at the same time as his performing at local venues led to a record deal with Average Joes Entertainment, and he released his debut album ‘Modern Prodigal Son’ in 2009 (it peaked at #58). The same year, Jason Aldean cut a couple of Brantley’s songs, and both ‘My Kinda Party’ and ‘Dirt Road Anthem’ ended up on Jason’s 2010 record ‘My Kinda Party’. Both tracks became singles, too, and ‘Dirt Road Anthem’ has often been credited as the song that started the bro-country movement. Brantley has released his own versions of both, the latter of which features a collaboration with hickhop rapper Colt Ford, who owns Average Joes.
In 2010 Brantley released his second album ‘Halfway To Heaven’, and it was this record that began spawning singles. The first three, ‘Kick It In The Sticks’, ‘My Kind of Crazy’, and ‘Them Boys’ failed to chart, but Scott Borchetta took notice and soon Brantley had left Average Joes in favour of Valory Music Group, a division of Big Machine Label Group. The new label re-issued ‘Halfway To Heaven’ in 2011 straight after signing him, immediately scoring Brantley his first #1 hit with ‘Country Must Be Country Wide’. The track went Platinum, and the same fate befell the emotionally-charged ‘You Don’t Know Her Like I Do’, which went to #1 and sold that coveted 1 million copies. The label then decided to re-released ‘Kick It In The Sticks’, helping it to reach Platinum status but only making it #34 on radio. They closed out the era with a deluxe edition of the record that included new song ‘More Than Miles’, a top 10, Gold-certified hit.
Around the release of that single, it was announced that Brantley was dating fellow country singer Jana Kramer, and he won his first award, an ACA for Breakthrough Artist Single of the Year (You Don’t Know Her Like I Do). He was also nominated at the ACMs and the CMAs that year. In January 2013, Brantley announced his engagement to Jana, before winning Top New Male Artist at the ACMs in April and the CMA Triple Play Award in November. However, that August Brantley and Jana broke off their engagement, and Brantley began dating Amber Cochran, a girl from his hometown who reportedly inspired some of his early material.
In December 2013 Brantley released ‘Bottoms Up’, the biggest single of his career to date. The track went 2x Platinum and hit #1 on country radio, also scoring him his first top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100. The subsequent album ‘Just As I Am’ hit stores the following May, selling nearly 300,000 copies in its first week and becoming one of the best sellers of that year. It spawned the Gold-certified top 10 hit ‘Small Town Throwdown’, a collaboration with label mates Thomas Rhett and Justin Moore, and the recent #1 hit ‘One Hell of An Amen’, which also went Gold. Brantley toured throughout 2014 and in May 2015 released a deluxe edition of ‘Just As I Am’, featuring the new single ‘Stone Cold Sober’ (which details his recovery from alcoholism). He also married Amber in June.
ALBUMS: Modern Day Prodigal Son (2009), Halfway To Heaven (2010), Just As I Am (2014).
KEY TRACKS: You Don’t Know Her Like I Do (2011), Bottoms Up (2013), One Hell of An Amen (2014), Country Must Be Country Wide (2011), Kick It In The Sticks (2010).