Starting a decade ago, Shy Carter has been a hit songwriter who’s had success in the country, pop and rock genres. He has co-written two major hits for Kane Brown (“Heaven” and “Good As You”), and a pop hit for Charlie Puth (‘One Call Away”). In addition, he’s had hits with Tim McGraw & Faith Hill, Sugarland, Billy Currington and Rob Thomas.
In addition to his songwriting career, Carter is now making his debut as a solo artist. He’s signed a label deal with Warner Music Nashville and he’s released his debut EP, The Rest of Us. This 8-song EP is an impressive collection of songs that present his unique style and personality, and displays his love for country, pop, rock and hip-hop music.
Earlier this year (2021), Carter released his debut single “Good Love,” which is a melodic, hooky song that provides a good showcase for his soulful, expressive lead vocals. Then a few months later, Carter came out with his fun, rollicking song “Beer With My Friends,” which he sings with his musical friends Cole Swindell and David Lee Murphy.
Another highlight on his EP is the title cut, “The Rest Of Us.” This excellent song shows Carter’s depth and range as an artist & writer. It’s a very heartfelt, emotional song about believing in the good in people and never giving up. Other key songs on the EP include the uptempo “Wild” and the romantic, funky “Lay You Down.”
Carter mostly grew up in Memphis, TN, and he fell in love with many music styles. He would hear his father play music at home and in church, and when he was 11, his uncle got him a keyboard. Soon after, he started to create beats and write songs, and he enjoyed rapping and singing. He also fell in love with country music, and he particularly liked the melodies, production and mixes.
Carter now lives in Nashville, although he also lived in Los Angeles for a few years. It was there that he connected with pop & rock artists, and his first hit was co-writing “Someday” for Rob Thomas (of Matchbox 20). His second hit was co-writing “Stuck Like Glue” for Sugarland, which because a country & pop hit.
It was “Stuck Like Glue” that gave Carter his first country success, and he began taking trips to Nashville. He started to collaborate there, and he had a country hit with Billy Currington’s “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To.” And when he was in L.A., he co-wrote Charlie Puth’s pop hit, “One Call Away.”
Here’s the video of Shy Carter’s single “Beer With My Friends”
(feat. Cole Swindell & David Lee Murphy).
It was in 2017 that Carter moved to Nashville, and he then had two of his biggest hits: “Heaven” and “Good As You” for Kane Brown. In addition, he co-wrote a duet hit for Faith Hill & Tim McGraw, called “Speak To A Girl.”
Currently, Carter is focusing on his artist career and he will be performing some live shows. He also is continuing to co-write for other artists, and he recently had a cut (“God Whispered Your Name”) on Keith Urban’s latest album.
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Shy Carter. He discusses his EP The Rest Of Us,” and he tells how he wrote his hits with Kane Brown, Charlie Puth and other artists.
DK: I read that you’re from Memphis. How did you get started with music, and writing songs?
Shy Carter: I grew up in Memphis, but I bounced around a lot. I lived in a lot of places. My dad was always playing guitar in the house and in church. He would play and sing old school songs. Then when I was 11, my uncle got me a keyboard. I remember that I would play with the beats, and write little songs and raps.
Then I started a little group, and we would sing at talent shows and fairs. One day, I had a chance to get in a little studio and make my first song, and I fell in love with it. I knew that’s what I wanted to do, so I focused on it all the time, until I could make something happen.
DK: You’ve played and created all types of music. So how did you decide to eventually move to Nashville and focus mostly on country music?
Carter: It was a natural progression. Around 2007, I started paying more attention to country music and the elements that were in it, like the beautiful mixes. I loved the way they mixed the records. I could hear everything nice—I could hear the guitars and the vocals…it was right up front. And I loved the songwriting. I was coming down here a lot, and eventually I made the move because I liked the community of people, and I started having success here. So I thought I would stick around because it felt like a good family vibe.
Here’s the video of Shy Carter’s single, “Good Love.”
DK: The first two hits you wrote were “Someday” for Rob Thomas and “Stuck Like Glue” for Sugarland. How did you connect with those artists and write with them?
Carter: I had first hooked up with (singer/rapper) Nelly and he gave my first deal producing for him, and for different hip-hop and R&B artists. But I wanted to branch out and do something a little different. So I hooked up with (producer) Matt Serletic’s company Emblem out there in L.A. Matt had produced Matchbox Twenty and Rob Thomas’ solo albums. So one day I was auditioning for him, to see if he would sign me to his publishing company. He played me this piano part he had, and I started putting beats and melodies to it. We worked on it, and then he finished it with Rob Thomas, and that turned out to be “Someday.” So it was a great series of events that led me to that song, and I moved to L.A.
Then I met Kevin Griffin, who’s in the band, Better Than Ezra. The drummer (Travis McNabb) who used to play in Better Than Exra was now playing in Sugarland. Me and Kevin had written a song, and he thought it would be great for Sugarland. Then Sugarland cut it, and it was an amazing experience to have that song come out. It was a great door opener, and it changed my life a little bit.
DK: A few years later (2015), you had a pop hit with “One Call Away” for Charlie Puth. How did you connect with Charlie and write that song with him?
Carter: I had been doing some work with Atlantic Records, and they called me and said, “We’ve got this young dude…he’s soulful; please come work with him.” So I went over there and we wrote a good song. Then he rented this big old mansion up in Montecito (near Santa Barbara), and he called some of the writers he had clicked with. And thank God I was one of them. So we went up there and hung out at this house, at this pool, for a few days. On the last night, they said, “Let’s sit around the fireplace. I grabbed my little four-string tenor guitar, and I brought that to the fireplace. Then we had an idea for this song and it came out real fast. Everybody was throwing lines around, and it turned out to be “One Call Away.”
Here’s the lyric video of Shy Carter’s song, “The Rest Of Us.”
DK: When did you move from L.A. to Nashville?
Carter: Around 2017. While I was living in L.A., I ended up renting an apartment in Nashville for a while and I was going back and forth. Then I decided to permanently move down here and live way out in the country. I built a nice studio out there, with a bunch of land, so it’s real peaceful with horses and all that. I thought that would be a good life for me and my little babies.
DK: More recently, you had two hits with Kane Brown: “Heaven” and “Good As You.” How did you connect with Kane and write those songs with him?
Carter: That was another cool connection. I went to visit my brother Todd, who lives in San Diego. This was before Kane had anything on the radio. Todd showed me his picture and music, and I thought it was really interesting. I felt like we might have something in common. So I thought…I need to find him. Once I got in Nashville I asked some questions. And I found him through a dear friend, (music exec) Jay Frank, who passed away. He told me about Martha Earls, who’s his manager, and then she connected me with him.
The first day I met him, we wrote this song called “Learning,” which was on his first album. It’s a beautiful song about his childhood…a lot of pain and things that he went through, just learning how to cope and deal with it. So we bonded over that. From then on, he would call me and say, “Can we write?” So that’s how that happened.
DK: How did you and Kane write “Heaven”?
Carter: We had gone to (label exec) Jim Catino’s lake house and there was a bunch of writers there. I got to write with Matt McGinn and Lindsay Rimes. Matt had this idea and Lindsey started playing that lick (he sings the hook). And things just flowed. We had a good idea and we chased after it.
DK: You recently released your EP, The Rest Of Us. Can you talk about the making of this EP?
Here’s the video of Kane Brown’s hit “Heaven,” which was
co-written by Shy Carter.
Carter: I had a lot of fun…I wrote a lot of songs. I got a chance to work with David Garcia, who helped me produce most of it. He’s a really good friend and a great producer. He helped me get the vision out, how I wanted it to sound. I put together a group of songs that I felt could represent what I am and how I feel. I think that there’s some really good songs. I love it and I hope that everybody else loves it.
DK: I like your fun song, “Beer With My Friends.” How did you decide to bring in Cole Swindell and David Lee Murphy to sing this song with you?
Carter: I wrote it with David Lee out there at the farmhouse with Bryan Simpson, who also wrote four songs on the project. I write with Brian a lot; he’s really a genius. I remember Brian had that idea. It was a pretty simple idea, but he started singing it. Once again, David Lee started spitting stuff out and it sounded cool. We wrote it on the guitar. Then we got a band together for the demo, and it started feeling like a smash. Everybody in the studio was saying, “Man, that sounds like a hit.” So I said to David, “Let’s sing it together.” He’s a legend and I love his voice and writing. So we did, and I was like, “We should get somebody else on here.” And Cole (Swindell), I’ve always admired his music, and we wanted to work together. So we hit him up and he loved the song. He came in and hopped on it, and I think it turned out great.
DK: I also like your title song, “The Rest Of Us,” which is very heartfelt and emotional. What inspired you to write this song?
Carter: That’s a special song to me. I wrote that with Bryan Simpson and Josh Kerr. Those guys are brilliant…they’ve got good hearts and they want to say something positive and powerful. (With the lyric), I think a lot of people feel like they miss the mark sometimes. I know I’ve felt like that, messing quite a few things up (laughs) like relationships, personal business. And you know, it’s a song about redemption. It’s a about somebody being there for you, when you feel like you’re not one of those who’ve got it all together. But I think what makes it real special to me, is that the truth is, nobody actually has it all together (laughs). So I think everybody can relate to that, about being like the rest of us. It just seems like other people are getting the breaks all the time. Everybody’s getting it right on the first try, while I’m messing up. But man, that’s life. So thank God people like you never give up on the rest of us Those people that help us get through those times.
Here’s the video of Charlie Puth’s hit “One Call Away,”
which was co-written by Shy Carter.
DK: You’ve just released your EP as an artist, so you’re focused on that. But are you still writing songs for other artists?
Carter: I’ve been focusing on being an artist, but I’m still going to be writing for other artists. We just had this song with Keith Urban, “God Whispered Your Name.” It’s a beautiful song. When an artist is great and who I admire, I know they’re going to kill the song (laughs). Keith is absolutely amazing on that song.
DK: Thank you Shy for doing this interview. Is there anything that we haven’t talked about yet, that you’d like to mention for this article?
Carter: Man, I’m just having fun. I’m just so blessed…I’m so grateful to God. He gave me another day today, and allowed me to play around with this music and take care of my family. So I’m grateful.