Larry Fleet will mark off another career first this month, when he headlines Nashville’s own Ryman Auditorium. The Tennessee native will perform at the prestigious venue on September 22, with rising stars Stephen Wilson, Jr. and Shelby serving as his opening acts.
“It’s my first time headlining,” Fleet tells Everything Nash. “I’ve played it a few times. It’s one of the most special places in the world to me. I played it when I was a kid, six or seven years old, with a little bluegrass thing. And then I played it with a few other artists that were headlining it, and it’s a special place.”
Fleet knew he wanted to play a local show, but had to convince the rest of the people on his team that he was ready to headline the Mother Church of Country Music.
“I said, ‘If I’m gonna headline something in Nashville, I want to do the Ryman,'” Fleet recalls. “They were like, ‘Well, I don’t know if we’re ready.’ I said, ‘Well, I don’t either. I don’t know if I’m ready. Who knows, but let’s try it.’ We put it out for sale and it sold out in a day.”
Fleet believed in himself enough to insist on doing a Ryman show, but he is all too aware that plenty of other talented artists have also been as ambitious as he was, albeit with different results.
“It could have gone the other direction,” Fleet acknowledges. “It could have turned out really bad, but it turned out great. We’re so pumped up, and that’s what starts our fall tour. So, we’re rehearsing; we’re trying to make this thing as cool as possible. It’s gonna be fun, and a very, very special, special night for us.”
Fleet has spent the past few years honing his craft as a songwriter and artist. Although it’s hard to find someone who works harder than Fleet, he is still amazed to see how much his hard work is paying off.
“The first time I came to the Atlanta area, I played Eddie’s Attic, and I sold 27 tickets, ” Fleet remembers with a laugh. “Then I came back the next time, and sold 1500. So we literally worked really, really hard on the road, and toured and traveled and made no money just going out. We just kept grinding it out on the road.”
Fleet recently got to perform in a venue much bigger than the Ryman. The former laborer served as the opening act on Morgan Wallen‘s The Dangerous Tour, where the two performed Fleet’s monster hit, “That’s Where I Find God” together at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
“We ran through it one time and I walked out in front of 20,000 people and played that song, and then the video came out and it went kind of viral there,” Fleet says. “And then I got my first gold record for that song just a few months ago. It’s really done wonders, and it’s been a really cool thing. People love it, and I love it. And we see it work every single night.”
Fleet’s Earned It is out now, 21 songs that sum up where he is, and the mark he is ready to make in country music.
“It’s 21 songs of life, where I’ve been and where I’m headed, and where I’m at right now,” Fleet tells Everything Nash. “And ‘Earned It’ kind of sounds like an arrogant, maybe cocky kind of title, but it isn’t. It’s true. I’ve worked really, really hard to get to where I’m at, and like my dad used to say growing up, ‘Nothing’s gonna be handed to you. You gotta earn it. You gotta work hard for everything to get.’
“And so that’s kind of where I’m at with it,” he adds. “I’ve just written a bunch of those songs and this time I actually had a bunch of songs, great songs that I didn’t write that got pitched to me. So I cut a few of those.”
Find all of Fleet’s music and tour dates at LarryFleet.com.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Big Loud Records / Matt Paskert