Country singer Tyler Hubbard’s growth extends beyond the Florida Georgia Line | ap-entertainment
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Singer-songwriter Tyler Hubbard was all set to hang up his boots so to speak when his Florida Georgia Line duet partner Brian Kelley said he wanted to go solo.
The pair had been together for over a decade, and whether you’re a fan of their country bro sound or not, their music (“Cruise,” “Meant To Be,” “Round Here”) set the tone for a generation of country. Hubbard, who had scored more than a dozen hits as a songwriter for FGL and other artists like Jason Aldean, thought he would focus solely on writing for other artists.
“It’s a really big transition in a career, 10 years or 12 years, and to say we’re going to pivot right now,” Hubbard said. “I didn’t expect it to happen at that time. And it took me a minute, you know, it really did. But we were also in the middle of a pandemic. And so I had no choice anyway.
But the COVID-19 pandemic made her realize her need to perform and record was stronger than ever. A year after launching his solo career, Hubbard reintroduced himself to fans with two hit solo songs and a debut album.
“I’m grateful that (Brian) had the courage to step into this new space and make this decision that ultimately pushed me to make the same decision and led me to where I am now.” said Hubbard.
Kelley and Hubbard both said there was no bad blood between them and that FGL was not breaking up, but rather “taking a break”. Now the two seem determined to explore music they couldn’t make together. Kelley, the Florida-born singer, explored his coastal country music, while Hubbard’s self-titled debut solo album released in January gave him the opportunity to reflect on his personal life, being a father, a husband and his faith .
But Hubbard acknowledges that there is always skepticism when an artist goes solo after unprecedented success in a band or band. The Georgia-born singer took it as a challenge.
“A lot of people told me it couldn’t be done and that I should definitely continue with FGL,” Hubbard said. “And that kind of ignited a spark in me, a fire.”
Hubbard’s two platinum-certified hit singles, “5 Foot 9,” about his wife and “Dancin’ in the Country,” which was co-written with Keith Urban, show fans haven’t forgotten about Hubbard, or maybe he’s changing the minds of people who never considered themselves FGL fans.
Producer and songwriter Jordan Schmidt was the first person to sign with Hubbard and Kelley’s publishing company Tree Vibez, and he recalls they instilled a strong work ethic in him. The duo would take their writers on a bus with them while they toured and spent time before or after shows writing and creating songs.
Schmidt was therefore a natural fit as co-producer and co-writer of Hubbard’s solo album.
“Naturally it’s going to be different, it’s up to him,” Schmidt said. “But in the grand scheme, it’s the same mentality and work ethic that he had with FGL in terms of ‘I want to write songs that move the needle. He continues to release songs that sound unique and different, just like ‘Cruise’ back in the day.”
And he puts his contribution like any new act. Hubbard opened for Urban on his tour last fall and will be hitting festivals and fairs this summer, a somewhat different vibe from Florida Georgia Line’s big, high-energy pyro-arena shows.
“I really enjoyed being able to strip it down and play these little shows and really have little to no production,” Hubbard said.
And just as Hubbard grew, so did his fans.
“Hopefully they can grow with me, because I feel like it was a season,” Hubbard said. “It was a chapter of my life, probably a chapter of a lot of fans’ lives, probably a soundtrack of a lot of memories.”
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