Nate Barnes’ debut single sums up almost everything there is to know about the singer. The rising star wanted his first introduction to country music to be one that shared his own personal views, especially when it comes to encouraging others.
“Jason Sellers, Jimmy Yeary and myself co-wrote that song,” Barnes tells Everything Nash. “The real meaning is, it’s about building people up, and not tearing them down. We just felt that this is just such a good time to help, not just particularly women, but people. There’s just so much in our society, and in social media, that tells you that you’re not good enough, if you don’t look a certain way. You’re not pretty, you’re not good-looking. And it’s like, ‘No, let’s cut all that crap out. Let’s get back to the basics. It isn’t about all that. It’s about I love you for who you are,’ and to help somebody to get back and find that.
“That’s the real meaning about that,” he continues. “And to help us guys out there tell that. I know there’s tons of guys that, when they look at their wives or their loved one, they feel that. When they see them, they’re like, ‘Man, that’s how I feel about you, but I don’t know how to say it.’ This may help them bridge that gap, for people out there as well.”
Although single, the message of “You Ain’t Pretty” was especially important to Barnes because of his 12-year-old son.
“I look at him and I’d like to think that I’ve done a decent job at trying to show him how to treat people and, and women in particular,” Barnes says. “Hopefully this song will help the younger generation, show them how to treat people. I’m pretty proud to be a part of the song.”
Barnes has had plenty of jobs over the years, including driving buses, digging trenches, mechanical maintenance, and working on a confined space rescue team at a nuclear power plant — all jobs that ultimately prepared him for his career today.
“I come from a long line of people that worked, and taught me how to work,” Barnes shares. “My stepdad had three jobs. My mom had three jobs at one time. All my uncles had businesses. We loved each other, but we worked hard. I started working when I was 12 or 13 years old at a youth camp actually, for the summers. And then, I would work for my uncle, tearing down houses at 14, and doing construction. I’ve always worked. I had a lot of great influences, and I just love working.”
Barnes might still be doing manual labor of some kind, if not for a chance meeting with Sellers, while he was on his way to Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
“I was heading to Gatlinburg on a vacation, and I stopped into Nashville to just meet a buddy of mine, Rob Hatch, for the first time, and me and him hit it off,” Barnes recalls. “And then out of nowhere, Jason Sellers comes randomly walking into the door, and I played him some songs. He says, ‘I have to introduce you to a guy.’ And he introduced me to Benny Brown and Paul Brown. When I met them, I sang Benny some songs and he signed me on the spot. It sounds crazy, but it was like this crazy moment that happened in my life that I didn’t expect.”
Barnes is the flagship artist on Quartz Hill Records, with Benny Brown at the helm. The Michigan native had hopes of eventually moving to Music City anyway, but admits his plans came into place quicker than he had planned.
“I had a four year plan at that time,” Barnes says. “The plant was closing, and I was gonna move to Nashville to really pursue country music. But I guess God had other plans. It was just, the stars aligned, this whole thing that happened. And so, when they said, ‘Hey, we’d like to sign you,’ I had a week and a half to make a decision and I knew that I had do it.”
Barnes just released the video for “You Ain’t Pretty,” which includes Runaway June‘s Jennifer Wayne. The video premiered on CMT.
“Jennifer and I first met at a NASCAR race last year and became friends,” Barnes says. “She’s such a talented artist and also actress. I think the world of her and am so humbled that she wanted to be a part of my very first music video. It was a long day but we had a lot of fun on set.”
“You Ain’t Pretty” is available here.