Laine Hardy made a name for himself in 2019 as the winner of season 17 on American Idol and now he’s making a name for himself in Country Music. The 20-year-old, who will have his Grand Ole Opry debut on August 28, has been busy releasing new music and is enjoying sharing it with fans on the road this year.
“Well getting new music out and stuff is really exciting because, I mean during the pandemic we couldn’t really go in the studio as much and stuff and all we could really do was work from the office or at home or something,” says Hardy. “But when things started opening up a little bit and we still had to wear masks and stuff in the studios and all that, when we finally got the chance to do it, it was great…I was excited to record new music and see what we were going to get…”
Hardy made a recent return to TV when he performed his new song “Memorize You” on ABC’s hit show The Bachelorette. While Hardy didn’t have a hand in writing the song, he instantly connected with it when it found its way to him. “The song sounded really cool melodically and I’m glad I got to record it,” explains Hardy.
With its carefree, summer vibe, he had a good time filming the music video for “Memorize You” in Panama City Beach with director Dustin Haney. The pair had worked together in the past when Haney directed the video for Hardy’s “Ground I Grew Up On.”
“We got to shoot on the beach,” shares Hardy. “We got to shoot at some local places there and it was just fun. It was a fun day.”
Hardy winning American Idol was unique in that he hadn’t planned on being on the show a second time. After concluding his run on season 16, his audition for season 17 was something that he didn’t see coming.
“Well second time around, a friend of mine asked me to go play for her because she was a little nervous about playing and singing at the same time, so I was like ‘Yeah, I’ll come do that.’ And then we went up to Idaho and I played guitar while she sang,” he remembers. “She got the ‘golden ticket’ and then the judges asked me to sing a song…I sang a song and didn’t realize that I could get the ‘golden ticket’ again…I took that opportunity and went through that season and won.”
He won over hearts across the country and ever since he’s been hard at work making new music and connecting with the fans that voted for him as well as those who have discovered his music since the show. Hardy’s life is definitely not the same now than when he went in that American Idol audition room that day.
“It’s changed a lot. I’m busy working on music, touring, releasing songs, doing a lot of press and interviews and stuff. It’s pretty cool,” says Hardy. “And songwriting, being able to write songs with some cool songwriters…It’s been awesome.”
When it comes to songwriting, that is a craft that Hardy really took the opportunity to dive into after winning American Idol.
“I came to Nashville a few months after I won, in June 2019 and I stayed here ‘til like September. So, I was writing Monday to Friday, every day with all kind of songwriters. It was awesome.”
Less than a year after he was announced the winner of American Idol the world halted due to the pandemic, making it hard for artists everywhere—especially new artists— to connect with fans since they couldn’t be on the road. This led many artists getting creative with how they could keep in touch with their fans and finding unique ways to share new music. Since Hardy couldn’t do a traditional tour, he created the “Ground I Grew Up On” virtual tour, which had 2 million views during the tour’s 20+ online stops last year.
“I think the fans that I have and the new people that follow my music and support me and stuff, I think being able to do that was great and being able to connect with them.”
Hardy has enjoyed getting this new music out into the world for fans to experience.
“It’s kind of refreshing being able to put out original stuff, even though some of it’s like not something I’ve written. It’s just the music in general, it’s really cool and being able to record and sing lyrics that other people wrote is pretty cool too…”
He’s been out on the road this summer and has been loving playing live music again after touring was paused for so long.
“It feels great to be able to connect with my fans and play live again…It feels great to be able to do it again and everything’s getting back to normal.”
While he’s been spending the summer opening up for Toby Keith, Hardy’s also preparing to headline the Monster Energy Outbreak Tour which kicks off July 22 and will continue through the fall.
“[I’m] rehearsing and practicing, getting my vocals all good and just making sure I’m taking care of my vocal chords and everything.
He’s looking forward to traveling to new places, seeing new venues, and connecting with people out on the road.
“What I look forward to the most is just seeing all these places and playing all these unique stages… meeting all the people behind every show, promoters and everything. It’s going to be awesome.”
When asked what city he’s most excited to stop in, he was quick to answer with New York.
While he’s excited to be traveling the country, his hometown of Livingston, Louisiana will always be home to him. His love for his hometown can be heard in songs like “Tiny Town” and “Ground I Grew Up On.”
“…[It’s] where my feet are planted, where my roots are planted and nothing’s gonna take that away.”