Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

In 2009, Buddy Brown posted a video on YouTube of him sitting on the tailgate of his pickup, strumming a guitar and singing Easton Corbin's hit A Little More Country Than That.

"I sorta forgot about it and didn't check it for about three months," he says. "When I finally did, that sucker had more than 300,000 views. I couldn't believe it."

Brown, 31, who grew up in Madison, Miss., through age 9, began posting videos regularly, some covers of popular country songs and also some tunes he had written. The clicks kept coming.

One video at a time, he has built a fan base that includes more than 27,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel. His videos have registered more than 5.1 million views.

That fan base drove Brown's first full-length CD - Mason Jar - to No. 34 on the iTunes country chart the day it was released, March 11. That is rare territory for an artist with no record deal, no publicity machine.

"I've been doing this for 20-plus years, and it's the only independent project to track that high," says Dave Bechtel, who produced Mason Jar in Nashville. "The reason it charted is because of the work Buddy has put in, posting the videos. Sales have remained pretty steady for two weeks, and that's because of the content. His songs are resonating with people."

Brown has played gigs all over the country, from fraternity parties to festivals. He opened for country music legend John Anderson in Wildwood, Fla., in 2010. In May 2013, he played for more than 10,000 in a pre-race concert at Talladega Motor Speedway.

Nervous?

"Man, anyone who gets nervous before getting the chance to do something like that needs to get out of the music business and sell oriental rugs or something," he says with a laugh.

Even Gibson has jumped on board, signing Brown to a guitar endorsement deal.

The constant thread over the past five years: Brown's relentless work ethic.

"The guy works like an animal," Bechtel says. "I often use Buddy as an example when working with other independent artists. A majority of his success has all fallen on his shoulders. He doesn't have a publicist, doesn't have a major financial backer such as a record label. But what he does is write songs and post videos. That in itself is an incredible amount of work.

"And it's not just a matter of putting it out there, but keeping it alive, maintaining that connection with his fans."

An example: During the two weeks before his CD was released, Brown talked with more than 1,000 fans individually on the phone.

"It was an ad campaign where they could send me their number, and I would call them," says Brown, who is married and has two sons, ages 4 and 3. "I was supposed to only call the first 10, but I wound up calling every person who took the time to contact me.

"The common message from the fans was thanking me for not going with mainstream country and having more of a traditional lyric style that tells stories.

"Another conversation really touched me. It was with a girl whose boyfriend heard my song 'Take You Huntin' and sent it to her. They made it 'their' song. He was killed in a freak accident a few days later. It gave me chills to hear her tell it. As an artist, you never truly realize how much you are involved in people's lives."

Singing since birth

Brown could sing on pitch at age 3.

His parents, Danny and Cheryl, sang in the choir at First Baptist Church in Madison.

"We'd take cassette tapes home to work on songs, and we started noticing he was singing along and hitting all the notes," Danny says.

Baseball took up most of Brown's free time from age 5 through 11 in Madison. He would get dressed in his uniform hours before a game. Brown still laughs at the time he and some buddies talked their parents into hitting them ground balls at Ridgeland's Hite Wolcott Park on Christmas Eve afternoon.

"There was no place we'd rather have been than at the ballpark, whether it was June or December," says Brown, who was a switch-hitting shortstop and pitcher. "And that's just one or the reasons I love my memories of growing up in Madison. Don't get me wrong; I've enjoyed my time in Florida. I've made some great friends.

"But it's different in Mississippi, and I mean that in the best way possible. People take the time to visit, to have conversations. And there is a sincerity in people's words in Mississippi that you just don't find many places. What can I say? It's home. It's a place I can go to in my mind and it's 1987 again. It doesn't get much better for me than that."

His dad's sales job took the family to Orlando in October 1991. Brown struggled with the move.

In addition to baseball, he turned to music.

"I asked for a guitar when I was 12, and my dad said, 'This will last two weeks' when he gave it to me," Brown says. "I don't know if he was using reverse psychology or not, but nothing drives me more than when I'm told something like that."

Brown hit a rough patch at 15. His first "serious" girlfriend broke his heart. His maternal grandfather died suddenly.

"I basically flipped a gasket," he says. His parents enrolled him at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va..

He returned home for his junior year of high school, and music again became his focus.

"I wrote my first song in 2001 after attending a Kenny Chesney concert," he says. "It was pretty terrible, actually. But it was fun. And it was cool - 'hey, I just wrote a song!' After that one taste, I kept writing."

Brown played football for Mississippi Delta Community College and Mississippi State. Meanwhile, he earned a psychology degree and had plans to become a pastor.

"I traveled the world singing Christian music a while," he says. "I lived in Australia on two different occasions and led music at one of the largest Baptist churches down there. But after I got out of State, I was reaching for something. My faith will always be what I base my life on, but I was gravitating more toward country music.

"It took me a while to figure it out, but I was reaching for my roots - Mississippi and the times I grew up in. And I figured I could find them through songs."

A church friend in Orlando, Mark Goff, is a respected vocal coach in Nashville. In 2009, he offered to fly with Brown to Music City and introduce him to some songwriters.

A meeting with Regie Hamm - a singer/songwriter who penned "American Idol" winner David Cook's first single, Time of My Life - changed Brown's music career.

"He asked me how many songs I'd written, and I told him 'probably 50 or 60,' " Brown recalls. "He said, 'Get to 100. And then throw all of 'em away. That's when the good ones start coming.' He made me realize you have to do something for so many hours before you really understand the true craft part of it.

"It was hard, but I took his advice. And he was exactly right."

Music is hard work

It looks so easy on YouTube: Sit on the tailgate of a pickup, say howdy and pick a song.

"I want it to look easy," says Brown. "But the truth is, I spend a lot of time on each one of those. I'm always battling the sun and the wind. Either one of those can kill the quality of a video. And I have to really, really know the song I'm doing, so there is preparation time involved.

"But one thing is for sure: I have to feed the beast, and by that I mean I have to keep giving my fans something fresh. Or those viewers will slowly fade away."

Brown pays the bills by working as a real estate broker. He and his dad, also a broker, started a business in 2012.

A career in music is Brown's goal. Bechtel says Brown's CD was a major step toward that. Brown plans to record another in the fall and already has plenty of material.

Through the generosity of his maternal grandmother, Brown was able to hire some of Nashville's best session musicians to play on the current album - among them, guitarist Jeremy McPherson, who has recorded with Faith Hill, Toby Keith, Rascal Flatts and numerous others; Chris Rodriguez, guitarist and backup singer who spent several years touring with Keith Urban; and Andy Leftwich, fiddle player in Ricky Skaggs' band.

"Buddy is smart enough to know these guys have played on countless hit records and know what they are doing," Bechtel says. "There were times they offered suggestions, and Buddy said, 'OK, let's try it that way.' But there were other times when they suggested something, and Buddy said, 'I just don't see the song going that way.' It takes a smart guy with a true vision of who he is as an artist to do that."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Miss. singer Buddy Brown a YouTube sensation

More In

test

Real Deals

Flip, shop and save on specials from your favorite retailers in central Ohio.

GET DEALS | COUPONS

Things To Do

SAT
30
SUN
31
MON
1
TUE
2
WED
3
THU
4
FRI
5

CLASSIFIEDS

Classifieds from across Central Ohio
Lancaster
Chillicothe
Newark
Marion
Bucyrus
Mansfield
Zanesville
Coshocton

Weeklies & Shoppers

10TV Headlines

Dispatch Headlines

METROMIX