Josey Greenwell, best known as a bartender at Tribe Nashville, is working to make a name in another arena: country music. The Colgate Country Showdown champion in 2006, Greenwell is currently working on music for an upcoming project, songs drawn from his experience in the barroom and the bedroom.
Telling stories of heartbreak and happiness through music has been a long-time goal for the Kentucky native. After graduating from Bethlehem High School with honors, Greenwell enrolled at Western Kentucky University and started attending writer's nights in Nashville in hopes of making connections. After a record deal fell by the wayside, Greenwell recorded an independent project, My Life On the Radio, that helped him make major headway in the music business. Career highlights include a slot as opening act on Little Big Town's "A Place to Land" tour, and appearances at the 2010 Detroit Hoedown and the 2010 CMA Festival.
Greenwell credits his sturdy work ethic and a strong fanbase for his achievements to date, and he takes a break from slinging drinks and singing hits to chat with Out & About Newspaper about what the future holds.
What about a piece of music—melody, lyric, instrumentation—grabs you first?
Well, it's funny because I'm drawn to different things when listening to a song than I am when writing a song. When listening I usually am pulled in by the instrumentation and chord progressions or beats if it's pop. When writing a song, the melody will usually come to me first and then I build around that. But as a songwriter myself, it's always crazy to hear new songs and think of how they created that or what they had to be thinking when writing the piece together….good or bad!
People always ask me if I write songs about girls or guys. I actually think because of the fact I'm gay it puts a more interesting twist on who my songs are about or who they are directed to. Suspicion is always very enticing to the human mind, but like I said it's just interesting. Who I write my songs about is just an interesting factor about the making of it, not a make-or-break key factor to the listener. I hope people will take my songs and apply it to their own personal lives, whether they like boys or girls. Most of the time though they are about relationships I have with people, certain situations I've been in with them, or different wants and desires I have.
What's the best part about performing in front of a live audience?
I think the best part about performing in front of a live audience is really the fact that you are being given this opportunity to touch someone with a message, that's why I like to write all my songs based on personal experiences. Music is so powerful and can really just define someone's life and I think that is what a lot of mainstream artists are lacking in their songs is true depth, so I always try to keep a balance of emotion as well as that fun factor in everything I write.
What's been your favorite place to travel or tour?
You know, I haven't necessarily got to be on a full-out tour yet, but I will say that one of the most incredible experiences I've had was my short stint of opening with Little Big Town on their 2009 "A Place to Land" Tour. That was a huge eye-opener just for the fact that I actually saw people in the crowd singing some lyrics back to me off of my first album. I realized it was without a doubt what I wanted to do for a career. You know, it really is an amazing experience when you're in an arena and see people mouthing the words to a song you wrote in your bedroom. I would have to say that was the most fun I've had performing, not to mention Little Big Town were so talented and just downright good people. Hopefully I can really start up a tour with this next project I'm working on.
How has working as a bartender influenced your music?
It honestly has really helped me a lot. Seeing so many people every time I work has really helped me to see just what certain people like, what gets them in a good mood or what they don't like. With the diverse crowd that comes in, it's great writing material! (laughs) As much as I put myself into the songs I write, I think if certain people would like them just to keep it very universal. I like to hone in on the songs that people are having a good time with and kind of analyze why they like them. When I first started bartending, no one really knew I had already been through a lot with my music career and with a label here in town, so I kind of kept to myself and observed while I started to write for this next project. Everyone has a song; it's just about pulling it out of them! So if you're ever seeing me with this blank look on my face, that's usually what I'm doing is thinking. Being a bartender not only has influenced my music, but also given me the opportunity to be flexible with my schedule if I needed to go somewhere on a whim. So I owe most of that "thank you" to everyone at Tribe for allowing me to chase my dreams and still be a part of their team.
What are your main goals for your music career?
Breaking out! I'm working my way up to hopefully becoming a household name and just getting myself out there to the world. You can get so wrapped up in a bubble here in Nashville and that's why I've been wanting to and in fact have taken a step out on this next project with my sound. I think country was great for me at first, and it really helped me to be able to add true depth to my songs, but I'm now using what I've learned and moving everything towards a very universal sound a lot more with my writing style. It's actually pretty great so far, and I want a product that the whole world can listen to, something unheard of while keeping that real element and truth to it all.
I'm definitely going to keep my online presence strong because after all that's what is pushing me today. I love seeing all the comments and answering all the messages and different things on my YouTube videos and it's fun to let everyone in on different things happening. I definitely am going to be filming everything…so stayed tuned in to JoseyTV! I have a lot going on on my own and definitely feel I'm ready to team up with some different producers, a booking agent who can help me start performing in various places hopefully all over the world, or a record label to start getting everything out there to people even more. I have been also working on a lot of new "projects" and gearing up for the fall with some great exposure opportunities, so I'm excited for a few articles to come out and even more excited to release a single here soon.