Nashville is often referred to as the “10 year town,” meaning it takes 10 years for musicians to finally have that big break they’ve been working toward. Many artists struggle for years pounding the pavement, trying to bring their music to anyone who will listen until something happens that changes everything. This held true for newcomer Ryan Griffin.
Griffin, whose single, “Back Seats & Burnt CDs,” was recently named one of Sirius XM The Highway’s new Highway Finds, is now being played across the nation to the satellite station’s subscribers. Additionally, his debut EP, Sake of the Summer, is available to the masses now via digital retailers. It’s safe to say Griffin’s hard work has finally paid off.
“It’s so cool because I’ve been doing this for a long time and trying to find my voice, trying to find my sound, what I want to say, you know, just writing songs,” the singer/songwriter told Sounds Like Nashville on a cool afternoon during a drive in his white pickup truck around the Edgehill neighborhood in Nashville, TN. “My ultimate goal and my end game is to get music out. It’s cool to write songs, but it’s not cool if nobody hears them. It’s cool to record an EP and go in the studio and do all that stuff, but it’s not cool if people can’t hear it. My whole end game has been for people to hear it and that’s what Highway Finds is going to do. It’s going to give me that opportunity to put music in front of people, in front of some listeners, into some ears.”
The opportunity to share his music with country music fans is something the Florida native has worked toward since he was a child. The biggest step he took toward his dream was when he left his dad’s sod farm in Ocala to attend college at Nashville’s Belmont University at just 17.
“I was the only one that’s left the farm, left the family in Ocala. Both my brothers live in Gainesville and me moving up here was a big deal,” he shared as he drove through the campus of his alma mater.
Though it was a huge deal for him to leave, Griffin said he couldn’t have had more supportive parents when it came to pursuing his goals.
“My parents have always been incredible, always encouraged me to chase my dreams,” he said as he reflected on their support and recalled a time that his dad spent hours on the phone hunting down a recording studio from Jacksonville to Ft. Lauderdale, and everywhere in between, for him to use.
“He wants nothing more than just us to be happy and successful. We don’t get to pick our parents but I got lucky.”
During his time at Belmont, Griffin had his sights set on learning all he could about the music industry, which landed himself an internship with Broken Bow Records and work with a pre-superstar Jason Aldean.
“I interned for Broken Bow when I first started and Jason Aldean was one of their new acts that they were trying to break. I became friends with Jason and ended up going on the road with him. I was tour managing for him. I remember when ‘Hicktown’ first came out, I was running errands on one of the few days that we were home from tour and I was going to the dry cleaner or something to get some of his clothes done, and I was walking through a parking lot and I heard somebody blasting his music with the windows down and I was like ‘uh, that’s what I want!’”
That exact moment is what pushed him to work harder at his craft as a songwriter, which led to his co-writing session with Kelsea Ballerini, Josh Kerr and Jason Duke when the four composed Ballerini’s second No.1 single, “Dibs.” And now, after his many years in Nashville, Griffin is finally ready for his moment in the spotlight and to share his “vulnerability” through his music. He hopes that most of all, listeners “go on a journey” with him.
“All I ever wanted to do with music is be raw and honest and acknowledge that life is pretty, but it’s also ugly. There’s a lot of good but there’s also sadness in life,” he said thoughtfully while sitting in his truck outside of his management’s office as our ride around town concluded. “Of course I understand that people want to escape and they use music as an escape, but I’m a firm believer in … some of my most memorable moments with music was sitting alone in my bed, just playing a song over and over and over because my heart was broken. First time I heard ‘You’ll Think Of Me,’ a Keith Urban song, it changed my world. So I hope that’s what this music does for someone else.”
Sake of the Summer, featuring “Back Seats & Burnt CDs,” is available for purchase on iTunes now.