After winning a song writing contest more than one year ago and moving to Nashville, Williamston native Austin Webb is on his way to making it in the country music business.
Webb recently signed a publishing (songwriting) deal with Red Vinyl Music and a recording deal with Streamsound Records and he is being produced by famed country music producer Byron Gallimore who also produces Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Sugarland and others.
Webb has been on a radio tour across the U.S for the past two months and will visit more than 120 major country stations promoting his first single, “It’s All Good” before the year is out.
The song will make a major radio debut on December 17 and will eventually be followed with the release of an album which will be distributed by SONY Nashville.
Webb recently performed on the Grand Ole Opry and will have a music video and his first Grand Ole Opry performance coming out in the upcoming year.
Webb got his first big break, when he won a songwriting competition held in Greenville in 2011. As the winner of the Nashville Connection, he opened a show for singer Craig Morgan.
Webb was up north as part of his radio tour when superstorm Sandy hit recently and after a stop in Pittsburgh, spoke with The Journal on his way back to Nashville.
Webb said the Nashville Connection was “the trigger” that caused him to quit a good paying job at BMW and move to Nashville.
It wasn’t long before his demo made its way into the hands of producer Byron Gallimore, who immediately offered him a publishing deal.
Webb describes his music as “country soul.”
“It’s country and it’s soul. I think it’s therapeutic. I try to stay as honest and relevant as possible in the lyrical content” he said. “And when I write I’m writing about things I believe in. It’s not exactly what you say but it’s a lot of how you say it. I think that my music is at its core honest at all times.”
Webb said he moved to Nashville to write songs. “I would love to be a huge artist someday, but I know I’m gonna write songs no matter what. That‘s what I love most.”
Webb’s top three musical influences are Joe Cocker, Otis Redding, and Bill Withers, but he also draws from Townes Van Zandt, Bob Dylan, Guy Clark.
He also said he listened to everything from Nina Simone and Janis Ian to John Mayer and Billy Preston while growing up in Williamston.
He is a 2007 Palmetto High School graduate and the son of Mark Webb and Diane Ambridge.
He said he grew up listening to Motown, R&B, rock, and retro country from the 50s, 60s and 70s. He also loved reading authors like Oscar Wilde, O Henry, Walt Whitman and Dylan Thomas, and started writing poetry at nine years old.
Webb said he knew he was going to be a writer of some sort and at 16 he picked up his prized Martin guitar and began pouring out his emotions into songs.
“It’s already nearly as beat up as Willie Nelson’s from being played eight hours a day for years,” he said.
Webb keeps signed photos of two of his heroes, Guy Clark and Kris Kristofferson, on the back of it.
“I really love that guitar. It never talks back, it never ticks me off, it never gets mad — it’s so neutral and apathetic, but it cares for me in a sense. I love it. And I can beat it up all I want.”
After finishing high school, Webb went to Atlanta and played shows up and down the East Coast. He worked 25 different odd jobs during his pursuit to make it as a singer/songwriter, including working on the line building cars at a BMW plant.
“I‘ve always had to work hard for everything. Nothing was ever handed to me. My family is not very rich, they’re just regular people, so I had to do a lot of things for myself and so I’ve always had a pretty good work ethic,” he said.
According to Webb, his first trip to Nashville was completely spontaneous and came after a bad breakup. Webb said he drove all night to Music City, stopping at Johnny Cash’s grave at about 4 a.m. to pay respects to the country music legend.
On his way back home, he stopped at a Waffle House, put Patsy Cline on the jukebox, and met Charlie Louvin, (another influence of Austin’s) and the two soon became fast friends. Louvin invited Webb to play onstage with him that night at the Smokehouse in Monteagle, TN.
Webb said he kept in touch with Louvin, who unfortunately died a week later.
Webb said since moving to Nashville he has been writing and singing and trying to make it in Music City. All of the songs on his album were written by him, he said.
His debut on Streamsound Records will be out soon. According to a press release, from the upbeat, “It’s All Good,” to the gut-wrenchingly honest “Getting Even,” his songs convey the real emotions of everyday life in fresh and rousing new ways.
Webb has a sleeve of tattoos on his arm which includes pictures of his basset hound Archie, a vintage radio, an ex-girlfriend, a ship’s wheel, and many more.
To follow Austin Webb via social networks, go to his website at www.austinwebbmusic.com.