By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Cursive orange letters bear “HOME OF THE Red Devils” upon a blue banner.
Independent Country singer-songwriter Cort Carpenter, 32, gazes through a black chain-link fence behind home plate.
The distance between him and that banner – an empty baseball field.
Carpenter, clad in a sky blue henley t-shirt and a black snapback baseball cap, holds a black bat diagonally across his chest. It’s evident he only spectates, but spiky cleats, gritty dirt and white chalk lines were once his life.
He had an opportunity to work at some professional baseball camps after college nine years ago but a car accident changed his life direction. Nowadays, a tireless stream of self-promoted Snaps, Tweets and Facebook updates have nestled Carpenter comfortably upon Nashville’s cutthroat music scene.
“I’ve been doing this for seven and a half years and they say Nashville’s a 10-year town before stuff really happens,” said Carpenter. “I think I’m ahead of the curve and not giving up so that time will come.”
The daily hustles of being a musician with 150-plus shows yearly played and currently his own Manager, he’d have it no other way.
“It takes a lot of work to be in this business,” Carpenter said. “There’s not a lot of time for just hanging out and doing nothing so it’s basically 24/7 on the job. It’s fun and I like doing it so we’re all happy there.”
Carpenter’s strategy to get to the top has strung along a series of successful singles, which caught fire on social media.
2015’s “Let Me See Your Koozie” remains Carpenter’s arguably most known, a hashtag-friendly party anthem which he still calls his trademark song as it’s his most requested.
2016’s “What Were We Drinking” has accumulated over 1.5 million YouTube views according to his website. “Wrong Kinda Right” became his first official radio single the next year.
Last year, he released radio single “Again” and followed with “Holy Ground.”
The video for “Holy Ground” was partially shot in a small town named Kelso/Longview in Washington State. The song hearkens Carpenter back to his roots and athletic background. The idea came when Carpenter was invited by Ryan Sorestad, one of his main writers, to a house out in Nashville’s countryside. Carpenter expressed he hadn’t done a song that was personal to his life or hometown, albeit cliche, still necessary.
“We really tried to squeeze everything we could out of the baseball references, the road I grew up on and it came out to be probably the most meaningful song I’ve recorded so far,” he said. “It was a hit in my hometown and even people who don’t live in my hometown really relate to it because musically, it speaks to people and takes them to their ‘holy ground,’ which was the whole point of the song, so it’s about me, but like I tell my audiences when we play it live, ‘Hey, listen to the song, it’s about my story, however, let it take you back to your holy ground wherever that may be’ and it’s been achieving that.”
He also played the 2018 CMA Spotlight Stage at the CMA Fest in Nashville – his first official year as a CMA artist on the main roster. Being Nashville’s biggest event of the year, he considered it one of his most memorable moments.
Outside Country, he looks for inspiration from stage performances and different sounds. Imagine Dragons is one of his favorites.
“I kind of idolize them in many different ways and try to get some of their sounds, whether it’s production [or} stage moves, so it’s something where I look everywhere,” Carpenter said. “I don’t just have two or three people that I try to emulate or anything. I try to look for tips and tricks from everybody because I do like all genres of music.”
Last October, he also released “Ex ‘Em.”
“I’m really proud of how that came out and it kind of had some influences such as Imagine Dragons and some other things in it if you really listen closely,” Carpenter said. “Just voice fluctuations and how things are said and whatnot.”
Most recently, he had an opportunity to collaborate with world-renowned Dee Jay Silver, a big name in the Country DJ business. The single “Safe Zone” is set to be released to radio come the end of January 2019.
“He’s good buddies with [Jason Aldean, Chris Young, Brad Paisley] and he asked me to write with him and a couple other guys and we wrote a song that he really loved and there’s a music video coming out,” Carpenter said. “It’s gonna be pushed to major platforms come the new year, so we’re really looking forward to that, I guess I’d say that was the highlight of the year so far.”
Over time, he has applied the teamwork aspect and work ethic from sports to his music career.
“Every day, there’s disappointments in this business and so you have to be hard-headed and just kind of let things pass by, which always isn’t easy to do,” Carpenter said. “In sports, you learn how to win, you learn how to lose and you just have to roll with it, so I definitely believe that if I hadn’t been an athlete, that I don’t know know that I would’ve made it this far.”
As for the future, he hopes that within the next two years, he’ll have a major single out and be signed with a label. His major goal is to become a household name.
“I truly believe that my music is loved by anyone who hears it,” Carpenter said. “People like the different sounds and vibes I’m bringing because not everybody’s bringing the same type of sound as me so I’m hoping that can be heard by the right people.”