Country newcomer Chase Bryant does his best not to freak out around his heroes, but it happens. The 'Take It on Back' singer recalls a few instances where he was starstruck, but quickly adds that he doesn't ever "gherm" out.

But really, who doesn't fangirl around George Strait? “I met him in an elevator at the BMI Awards," Bryant tells Taste of Country, recalling a moment several years old. "That was pretty ridiculous. I was definitely starstruck then.”

Soon, the 21-year-old may experience what life is like from the other side. Anyone who spends time with the Texan notices he has that hard-to-capture, difficult-to-describe star sparkle that men like Strait carry around so effortlessly. Sure, a No. 1 hit and several CMA and ACM Awards would be great, but in a year, all Bryant really hopes to have is more fans. He wants to inspire and influence people.

Pretty lofty goals for someone who's just a few years removed from playing for a crowd of himself inside the four walls of his bedroom in Orange Grove, Texas. Bryant's guitar playing is drawing early attention, as it should. He's proficient, but weird. He plays upside down and backwards -- a style local guitar teachers flat out refused to work with when he was young. When Bryant was two years old, his parents bought him a mandolin and, not knowing any better, that's how he held it.

Everybody always told me I would never be able to do it," Bryant says, "so that made me really strive to do it.

"Everybody always told me I would never be able to do it," Bryant says, "so that made me really strive to do it. That made me really work hard at doing something that everybody said I’d never do. But I wanted to. I wanted to be different. I wanted to do what made me feel comfortable, and that’s where I found home."

Dad is a fan of the classics -- George Strait, Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty. Mom loves Linda Ronstadt, Fleetwood Mac, Bryan Adams and Tom Petty. Put those influences together and give them a better haircut and you get Chase Bryant, a Texas picker who confidently calls Keith Urban, Adams and Haggard his biggest influences.

Vocally, Adams, Radney Foster and Stevie Nicks influenced him. "And Jerry Lee Lewis was a huge influence for vocals, because man, every time you watch him play he’d go for something, and he didn’t care if he was gonna hit it or he wasn’t. That crowd was stuck on him like tape."

Nashville didn't come calling immediately for Bryant. In fact, he took a detour to Los Angeles after high school and went by his legal name, Chase Yaklin. Bryant is his mother's maiden name, and that's where his musical roots begin. His grandfather played with Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly. His uncle was part of the '90s country group Ricochet. So when he came to Nashville, he changed his name and quickly found a home on Red Bow Records.

“I don’t know if anyone wanted to break their back bending all the way over to the 'Ys' to buy a record," Bryant jokes. “Here’s the other thing, if you ask 10 people how to say my last name, 10 of those people are probably going to get it wrong.”

'Take It on Back' is Bryant's first single, but he says his debut album is essentially a digital autobiography. He's only 21, but when he remembers his L.A. sound -- still available at his MySpace page -- he recalls a kid who was still working through growing pains.

"I just don’t know that I had found myself yet. I wasn’t prepared. I thought I knew it all, I really did," the singer says. "You’re young, you get out of high school and move to Los Angeles and try to take on the world by yourself, and you can’t."

"You’ve got to be wrong to get to all the right stuff," he adds. "I feel like I’ve surrounded myself with a team and a group of people and a co-producer and writers and people that helped me find me as a person and an artist. If somebody ever said, ‘Do you know Chase Bryant?’ You could put ‘Take It on Back’ on or you could put on my record and go, ‘This is him.’"

There's no set release date for Bryant's debut album. Find him on the road with Brantley Gilbert this fall -- he'll be part of the Let It Ride Tour through December.

Is This the Best of Country in 2014 (So Far)?