How Hard Work Paid Off for Seth Ennis
Seth Ennis had to work for everything he wanted in life. As a kid, it was something he sometimes resented, but as he grew older he realized the important lesson his father was trying to teach him.
The "Woke up in Nashville" singer grew up in a musical home and recalls taking piano lessons at five years old. While he hated it at the time, his dad told him if he got through all his learning books, he could pick up any instrument he wanted. After three years he decided to play drums. Once again, his dad tested his work ethic when he was told to buy his own drum kit. So, Ennis delivered magazines door to door until he had enough money to purchase his instrument. It was a wise investment, because Ennis soon found himself traveling and playing drums for anybody he could.
"I got my first traveling gig when I was 15 or 16," he tells Taste of Country. "I was playing drums since I was eight. I started singing more as I got to high school, then taught myself guitar [and] circled back around to piano."
Now, Ennis plays all three instruments and even recorded each part on his debut single, "Woke up in Nashville." It's something he had always dreamed of doing, but didn't think it would happen as soon as his first song. As he explains, once he turned in the song to his label, Arista Nashville, they wanted a recording of it ASAP. While it was too last minute to call in studio musicians to play on the song, he suggested the idea of playing each instrument himself to his producer, Corey Crowder.
"I was like, 'Hey dude, what if we just take a stab at me doing all of it?'" he recalls telling Crowder. "He was like, 'All right. If it works out it could be a really cool thing. If it doesn't work out we can just wait on the other guys.' I've always wanted to do that at some point in my career, I just didn't think it was going to happen so early. Especially to be the first single. It ended up working out, and I got to play and sing everything on there. It gets to be the first thing I say to the world. I'm excited about it."
"Woke up in Nashville" tells the tale of Ennis' dream of moving to Nashville. Co-written with David Hodges and Blair Daly, Ennis recalls going into the writing session when Hodges suggested the title over a melody he played on piano. Ennis loved the idea and says it's a personal song to him. While he admits he was worried at first that not many people would relate to a story of a musician moving to a new town, the feedback proves otherwise.
"It's really a song about anybody moving for any dream, not just necessarily Nashville and this whole music dream. That transition of moving away from home and leaving everything to go and try to chase this dream, then realizing that the real dream is what you had," he explains. "It's been cool to see the feedback and that people are grabbing on to it and it means something to them."
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For Ennis, his Nashville dream was initially a struggle. Moving to town in 2013 with no money, his father told him that he had to do it all himself. So, he moved into a one-bedroom apartment with three other guys and slept in a bunk bed. He'd hustle during the week, co-writing as much as he could and networking at every chance he got. On the weekends he'd play keyboards, drums or guitar for other artists as well as sing background vocals.
"I think the hardest part about living in town that first year was looking around and seeing people whose parents were paying for their nice apartment and their nice car and them to have their record produced and recorded by some awesome producer," he admits. "I just had eight dollars in my bank account. Looking back now I see what my dad was doing — making me learn hard work and how to be an adult. He's been doing that my whole life."
Another lesson that stuck was from songwriter Craig Wiseman, who advised to "never say no to anything," leading Ennis to sign up for a Battle of the Bands showcase where the winner would have a shot at performing during CMA Fest. A story of being at the right place at the right time, Ennis found himself performing for a crowd which included now-producer Crowder and his agent. His band won the contest and played CMA Fest, where more music industry heavyweights were in attendance and helped land him his record deal at Sony.
Currently, Ennis is hard at work and putting the finishing touches on his debut album. He's been busy traveling the U.S. for his radio tour, introducing new fans to "Woke up in Nashville," and promises an album with a "variety of songs" that he feels really good about.
"We're really close. I think people are going to like it if they like 'Woke up in Nashville.' I'm excited about it," he says.
Ennis currently has two songs on the radio — his debut single "Woke up in Nashville" and Tyler Farr's "Our Town." A testament to his work ethic with two songs receiving airplay, his father must be proud.
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