In the past two years, Corey Kent has emerged has a talented new artist to watch. Blending country with rock, and having a strong, soulful voice, Kent is building upon the success he had in 2022 when his single “Wild As Her” became a breakout hit. He has since released his major label debut album, Blacktop, on Sony Music Nashville Records.
Currently, Kent is back on the charts with his single, “Something’s Gonna Kill Me” (which he wrote with Lydia Vaughan, Joybeth Taylor & Austin Goodloe). This is a life-affirming, passionate song about doing the things that make you feel alive, while you’re still living. “Something’s Gonna Kill Me” is one of the many songs that Kent co-wrote for his album. Other highlights from his Blacktop album are “Wild As Her,” BiC Flame,” “Hood of that Car” and “Long Story Short.”
In addition to the songs on Blacktop, Kent is excited about the new song he’s releasing this week (on Friday, Jan. 26), called “This Heart.” This is a song that Kent has been previewing to his fans, and it’s been getting a strong reaction. “This Heart’ could be his follow-up single, after “Something’s Gonna Kill Me” has run its course on the charts.
Kent was born and raised in the small city of Bixby, Oklahoma, where he got into music an early age. Remarkably, when he was 11, he was already touring as the lead vocalist in a Western Swing band. The group, which featured other young musicians, toured across the U.S. for several years.
Although his Western Swing band later disbanded, Kent was inspired to seriously pursue a music career when he had the opportunity to sing onstage with Willie Nelson at a show in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This show went very well, and Kent decided to move to Nashville and become a singer/songwriter.
After moving to Nashville and co-writing many songs, Kent received an offer to sign a music publishing deal. However, the deal didn’t work out, so he decided to move with his wife to Texas to focus on a more stable life away from Music City.
Here’s the video of Corey Kent’s hit, “Wild As Her.”
Unfortunately, Kent’s move to Texas happened right before the outbreak of the Covid pandemic in 2020. As a result, he had to take on other jobs, including working at a pavement company, to earn money and take care of his family. But when he had time, Kent continued to record his songs and kept in touch with the Nashville music industry.
Kent got a break when he formed a relationship with music publishing execs at Combustion Music, a top independent company in Nashville. They were impressed with his singing and songwriting, and they signed him to a new publishing deal.
It was at Combustion that Kent became friends with the company’s other songwriters, and he heard and liked a song called “Wild As Her,” which was written by Brett Tyler, Kelly Archer and Morgan Wallen. After Wallen decided not to record it, Kent jumped at the opportunity to record “Wild As Her,” and he released it as an independent artist.
Soon after, “Wild As Her” became so successful that it changed Kent’s life. He signed with Sony Music Nashville Records, and “Wild As Her” was certified platinum. This led to the release of his Blacktop album, and he was invited by country star Jason Aldean to be the opening act on his 2023 tour.
Now in 2024, Kent is excited about the release of his new song, “This Heart.” In addition, he’s currently on tour in the United Kingdom, opening shows for Ashley McBryde. Then when he returns to the U.S., he’ll be embarking on a major new tour, opening for country star and fellow Texan, Parker McCollum.
Corey Kent Interview
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Corey Kent. He tells the stories behind his hit “Wild As Her,” and his current hit, “Something’s Gonna Kill Me.” He also tells how he’s managed to build his successful career while being based in Texas.
Here’s the video of Corey Kent’s new hit, “Something’s Gonna
DK: How did you get started with music? I read that when you were just 11 years old, you were touring with a Western Swing band.
Corey Kent: Man, I look back on that…I feel like music kind of chose me. When you’re 11, I was living a typical childhood—playing sports, hanging out with friends. And I realized the one thing that I didn’t mind practicing was music. I loved practicing and playing music, so getting in music made sense to me.
Then I got an opportunity from a couple Western Swing Hall of Famers. They were putting together a youth band, to carry the torch and tradition of Western Swing music in the area. They were like, “Hey, we think you’d be a great frontman for this band. We will teach you all about Western Swing and we’ll pay you when you play.” So that’s what got me interested. We opened shows for the Texas Playboys and Asleep At The Wheel, which is as big as it gets in Western Swing. That was my entrance to the music world.
DK: When you were 17, you moved to Nashville and eventually signed a music publishing deal. Can you talk about this period?
Kent: After five years the Western Swing band had broken up…the older members started to go to college. When that happened, I was at this crossroads in my life, I was like…should I go back to being a normal kid and do the normal high school stuff? Or do I really want to keep doing music, because I’d experienced how hard it was to build momentum with the band.
Then one night, Willie Nelson came through my town in Tulsa, and I ended up playing a song with him that night. And it changed everything. We got to talk to Willie after the show, and it lit a fire under me. I realized that this is what I’m supposed to do. I’m gonna get my schoolwork out of the way and then move to Nashville.
When I moved to Nashville, I didn’t know anybody yet. I was sleeping in my truck, doing the whole starving artist thing, and meeting anybody I could. I wrote as many songs as I could. Then after a few years of grinding it out there, I got a music publishing deal when I was 21.
Here’s the video of Corey Kent’s new song, “This Heart.”
DK: I read that your first publishing deal in Nashville didn’t work out, and you moved to Texas. Is that true?
Kent: Yes that’s true. I got a call that I’ll never forget. On a random Monday, right after my wife and I had our first baby, I got a phone call from the guy that ran the publishing division where I was writing. It was a super cordial conversation. He said, “How’s the kids? How’s the wife? Man, kids grow up so fast. And hey by the way, we’re not gonna renew your contract…you’re gone.” And I was like…Whoa. That wasn’t what I expected with this conversation.
Then I walked back in, and my wife asked if everything was okay. And I was like, “I think I just got fired.” In a way, it was exactly what we needed, because the only thing keeping us in Tennessee at that moment was that contract. And we really decided to raise our kids around our family, and our family is back in Texas and Oklahoma. So we decided, “We’re gonna put our family first. B we’re gonna work twice as hard from Texas and build this music career. And I wanted to get back on the road and do shows.
Then we moved to Texas, but when we got there, the world shut down due to Covid. So it wasn’t a great time to move and try to start a career on the road. But you know, God worked it out and timing was everything, and when the world opened back up, we hit the ground running and started putting songs out. But there was a stint where I had to work at a pavement company to make ends meet for my family, because the music wasn’t an option. And while I was working there, I started recording this song called “Wild As Her,” which I put it out independently, and it took off. It became a gold record and changed everything. People started coming to the shows in droves, and things started selling out, and record labels started coming to shows.
DK: “Wild As Her” was written by Nashville hit songwriters Brett Tyler and Kelly Archer, and Morgan Wallen. And at the time, you said you were an unsigned artist. So how did a song written by top country writers get in your hands, and you made that song a hit?
Here’s the video of Corey Kent’s song, “How You Know
You Made It.”
Kent: Yeah, good question. In 2018, I’d lost my publishing deal and we were planning to move to Texas. By 2019 we were on our way, getting ready to move, and I started talking with another publishing company about a new deal. On my way to Texas, I ended up signing a deal with Combustion Music, which is another publishing company that I’m still with to this day. They had no idea I was moving to Texas, and I didn’t have the heart to tell them because I wanted a publishing deal. I also felt like they wouldn’t think that I was going to take it seriously if I was leaving. So I was worried about that. I kept that to myself, and I flew in to Nashville every week on my own dime, for months. Every Monday I’d fly in, and every Thursday I’d fly home. And I built a great relationship with my publishers, and they didn’t know that I was flying home to Texas.
At Combustion Music, they keep a small stable of writers there, yet they’ve had over 100 number one hits. They’re really good at what they do. One of the writers they had was Brett Tyler, and Brett has become a really close friend. But essentially, we got this song because it was a Combustion song. A writer at Combustion wrote it, and it had been sitting on the shelf. But they really believed in it. Morgan (Wallen) decided not to cut it, and it just lined up with my style and my brand that I was building. So they brought it to us, and we went into the studio and cut it. And my team—the people that I surrounded myself with and trust—were absolutely great in that moment. Thankfully, we got our first number one.
DK: Last June, you released your album, Blacktop. Can you talk about the making of this album?
Kent: I had more fun making this record than I ever have making music. It brought me joy back to the recording process. I worked with a producer named Jay Joyce, who I’ve wanted to work with since I was 16 years old. I had flipped over an Eric Church record he produced called Chief. And it only took me 12 years later to connect with him and be in a position to make a record. We had a blast making the record.
DK: I like your current hit, “Something’s Gonna Kill Me,” which you co-wrote. What inspired you to write this song?
Here’s the lyric video of Corey Kent’s song, “Hood of That Car.”
Kent: This song comes from one of my favorite sayings from a movie, “Get busy living, or get busy dying” (from The Shawshank Redemption). It started when my dad used to drop me off at school on his motorcycle, and I have these great memories of getting on the back of the motorcycle as a kid. So naturally when I grew up, I loved riding motorcycles. Yet even my dad was like, “Dude, I’m worried about you. These roads…I don’t want you to get yourself killed.” That seemed to be the general response when people found out that I love riding motorcycles. And my response to that became, “Well get busy living or get busy dying.” What that means to me is…tomorrow is not guaranteed, and life is full of risks. So I’m not going to live my life in fear of something that may or may not happen. I’m going to live my life doing things that I enjoy that adds fulfillment to my life. And I’ve made peace with it. If that’s the way that I go, that’s the way that I go. So that’s the mentality of this song. The title is “Something’s Gonna Kill Me,” but the whole point of the song is…Do the things that make you feel alive. And live every day like it’s your last day, because you don’t know when that day’s coming.
DK: This week you’re releasing a new single, called “This Heart.” Can you talk about this new song?
Kent: “This Heart” is a song that I have high hopes for, mainly because we’ve been working on a lot of new music, and we’ve been previewing that new music to our fans. And “This Heart” in particular, when we put it out to see what people think, it blew up. It’s the most viral video we’ve ever had. And we’ve had to navigate radio, now that we already have a song on the charts, and we had to figure out when we could get back in the studio to finish the song. These fans have been waiting a long time for this song, and I’m excited to get it out to the world.
DK: I want to ask you about your live shows. You just finished opening for Jason Aldean on a big tour, and now you’re going to the U.K. to open shows for Ashley McBryde. Can you talk about your live shows, and these tours?
Here’s the video of Corey Kent’s song, “Gone As You.”
Kent: We’ve been very fortunate to have high caliber artists reach out and ask us to hop on tour with them. With Jason Aldean, he heard our song on the radio and said, “I want these guys on the road with us.” So he sent us an offer, and we were absolutely over the moon to be on the road with Jason Aldean.
Then Ashley McBryde came calling to go to the U.K. Last year, I went over to London and Australia on some festivals, and I fell in love with these places. So I wanted to go back and invest in these markets, and Ashley gave us the ability to do that. I really see the benefit of building an international audience, and I love experiencing new places. And so we’re gonna rent a van and drive the countryside in the U.K.. Then as soon as we get back, we’ll start a 7-month tour with my good buddy and fellow Texan, Parker McCollum.
DK: Thank you Corey foe doing this interview. Is there anything that we haven’t talked about yet, that you’d like to mention for this article?
Kent: Oh man, I think the main thing is when people hear my story, I think they see how much of a longshot, underdog thing it was. I was working at a pavement company, and a song I put out independently somehow found its way to the top of the charts. And I think it’s important to note that all of that happened when I moved away from Music City. I had gotten my priorities in line, I put my family first, and focused on being a good husband and father. Then music seemed to start happening, and I think that’s an important part of my story. So I hope it encourages other artists to live a real life…not a life that’s just chasing fame or chasing success. You can find success living a real life.
Here’s the link to Corey Kent’s site: https://www.coreykentofficial.com/