Breakout artist Matt Stell unpacks the power of a debut hit in a video premiering on Sounds Like Nashville today (August 8), describing how the heavenly romance of “Prayed for You” has kickstarted his career.
Titled Meet Matt Stell Vol. 3, the behind-the-rise clip arrives just as “Prayed For You” enters the Top 20 at country radio, having already pulled in more than 60 million streams and 5 million views of its spirit-lifting video — which stars Savannah Crisley and her fiancé Nic Kerdiles. The 6-foot-7 Arkansas native wrote the soul bearing emotional standout with Ash Bowers and Alison Veltz, and says it’s completely changed his life.
“We wrote this song and released it, and for whatever reason it sort of caught fire,” Stell admits about the heartwarming ballad. “Whatever opportunities I have right now in music have to do with ‘Prayed for You.'”
Those opportunities have been big ones, for sure — the kind that a whole city of dreamers are hoping to experience. Since “Prayed for You” began to gain attention — a grass-roots climb that started online as fans fell in love with the independent track and shared it with friends — Stell has cut his first EP, appeared at CMA Fest and even made his Grand Ole Opry debut in April. And that might be the hardest thing for him to wrap his head around.
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For any country singer, playing the @opry is a dream come true. Stepping in that circle where all my heroes stood is surreal. Hank, Waylon and Johnny Cash stood there. Now I can say that my boots have made those old boards creak too. My #OpryDebut was even more special because of all the friends and family who made the trip to Nashville to see it, as well as the folks who tuned in to hear it. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to explain how fortunate I feel to have that kind of support. My Opry debut is a night I’ll always remember as one of the greatest of my life. #Humbled #Grateful #Opry
“I’ve had so many great things happen to me with music, and hearing my song on country radio is just surreal,” he explains. “Getting to step on that Opry stage, man, that was really something special, too, that was humbling. In terms of milestones, I don’t think you get more distinguished than that.”
Stell goes on to say that his idea of success in country was just to make music that mattered to people, and he now knows how that feels. But it was a winding road to get there. He started out as a college basketball player who had to use a fake name when he performed so his coach wouldn’t find out, then hit the road for years playing his songs in small clubs all around the country. After all that he finally made it to Nashville, only to almost leave and attend medical school instead. But now he’s right where he always hoped to be, living a real-life “pinch myself” moment.
“Anyone that is in the situation I am in has had a crazy amount of luck,” he admits, with a touch of disbelief still obvious in his voice. “So I really try not to take that for granted.”
Stell’s Everywhere But On EP is out now, with “Prayed for You” joining six other tracks including a collaboration with Jimmie Allen on “Home In a Hometown.” He’ll be on Chris Young’s Raised on Country World Tour 2019 from September 26 through November 23.