A little bit about Barrett BaberThe Early Years
Born the middle son of a Southern Baptist Minister, the music of Barrett Baber began almost immediately. As a young child his mother often found him sitting alone listening to records on his parents' old record player. Barrett spent the formative years of his life in a small college town in South Arkansas where his father ministered at a small church while teaching New Testament at the local Baptist college. As with many artists in the South a “never miss” approach to church attendance created an environment in which music was ever present. “Both my parents were musically inclined and being the preacher’s kid I was involved in everything…and that included church music.” While performance was something Barrett practiced in church on a tri-weekly basis, it wasn’t until his teenage years that he progressed from performance to composition of original material.
The Writing Begins
One afternoon while hanging out in his older brother’s dorm room at Ouachita Baptist University, Barrett picked up his brother's guitar. After a quick tutorial Baber took to the instrument naturally and almost immediately began writing. “I always felt like I had the ability to write songs, but it wasn’t until after I learned how to play the guitar that I was really able to get down to writing my own material both musically and lyrically. After I taught myself to play the guitar, I was totally self reliant. I could sit in my dorm room and write without really needing someone there to bang out a chord progression on the guitar or piano,” he adds. Only one year after learning how to play the guitar, Baber released his first project “Songs of the Broken Hearted”. “It was a fun little project…I still get the occasional SOTBH request but I feel like for my first effort, it's not too shabby. It's by no means my best work, but it was fun to do.”
Off to Nashville
Not long after the release of Songs of the Broken Hearted, Barrett packed his car and moved East to the country music capital of the world, Nashville, Tennessee. “I got hooked up with an Arkansas-born and really talented writer Danny Tate.” Baber remembers. “I pretty much spent the next eight months figuring out that I was a minnow in an ocean full of big fish. It was both humbling and incredibly valuable; I learned so much from that experience…I wouldn’t trade that year in Nashville for anything.” After several months in Nashville, Baber auditioned for season two of the hit TV show American Idol, making it further than any other Arkansan ever had. “American Idol was also a good experience for me…it allowed me to see where I stacked up against some of the most talented people in the nation,” says Baber.
Back to a Natural State of Mind
Shortly after his American Idol bid Barrett left Nashville and headed back to the Natural State. “It was during this time that I really started writing hard and heavy,” says Baber. Living with a friend in his home town of Marion, Arkansas, Barrett spent his days working various day jobs and his nights performing in nearby Memphis, Tennessee. In early 2003 he finished writing material for his next project and recording began on his sophomore release. "Fratbar Superstar" was released in May of 2004 and was an instant underground hit amongst the college crowd in Arkansas. Barrett spent the next two years playing endless shows in college towns across the mid-south.
GUYS LIKE ME
In the years following the FBSS release, Barrett could be heard playing covers and originals in hazy bar rooms and fraternity houses across Arkansas. “Honestly, there were times during that era of my musical journey that gigin felt like a job,” says Baber. “I realized that it’s only when I’m actively writing new songs that I feel relevant…even if I’m not…at least when I’m writing I feel like I’m moving in some direction.” With a catalog of new songs, Barrett started recording his next project “Guys Like Me” in the fall of 2008. Harping back to the early days, the record is completely acoustic and focuses on the powerful vocals that have come to define the “sound” of Barrett Baber. The project highlights a more mature songwriter with power ballads such as "I Still" and "What Good Love Can Do" but also lets listeners in on the lighter side of Baber with instant fan favorites "God Damn You Sallie Mae" and "Prisoner Worship at the Stone County Jail".
COLT SQUARE SESSIONS
In late 2011 Barrett began recording "Colt Square Sessions". Recorded on Colt Square in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the project features 6 full band originals 3 Barrett Baber acoustic staples, and a revisit of the original "I Will" which was included on the earlier release "Fratbar Superstar". Co-produced by Aaron Schauer of the legendary Arkansas pop band Boom Kinetic, the release was a turning point in the artist's career, moving him towards a more polished sound. "Colt Square Sessions is what I've always wanted to do, put out a full band record that doesn't stray from what makes me.....me. I think it's as fun to listen to as it was to write and record." says Baber. With the release of CSS, Baber continued to play acoustically all over the South adding full band shows to his schedule, giving fans a taste of something they'd never heard before “I’m gonna keep on rocking…keep on writing…and see what happens…be it fortune or famine…producing art in the form of music is something I plan on doing for the rest of my life."
A little over a year since the release of Colt Square Sessions, Barrett released the follow-up recording Battlefield Us. The entirely full band project was a first for Baber and showcases some of Baber's most well-written material yet. Songs like, Battlefield Us, Quarter To Four and Drop Dead Redhead show Babers growth as a songwriter. "I really love Battlefield Us. It feels like each project is another move up in quality from a writing standpoint and a production standpoint."
GRAMMY GIG OF A LIFETIME
In 2013 Barrett's song "Drop Dead Redhead" was nominated by a fan for the national "Grammy Gig of A Lifetime" contest hosted by CBS. Baber was named a finalist in December 2013 which made him a top 40 contender out of over 2000 entries. Left up to a public vote, Baber began promoting the opportunity via social media and the fans responded. "I initially figured I'd post a few times about it and see what we could do, not really expecting what happened." What happened was remarkable. Baber received over 1.6 million votes and won the contest in a landslide victory. "I think you can attribute the victory to several things. First, our song is really catchy and people really responded to it. Second, the people of our home state really got behind us. It was incredible to experience. To think that people would take time out of their day to vote and share via social media really was humbling." Baber and his band were flown out to Los Angeles, CA. to perform at club Nokia for a sold out crowd. Later that week they were treated to a backstage tour of the Grammy Awards and attended the event with red carpet status.
The Song of Arkansas
Not long after the Grammy Gig, Baber was named a finalist in the "Song of Arkansas" contest hosted by the Department of Tourism. Baber and co-writer Kenny Lamb penned the tune "Arkansas (Get There From Here)" and submitted the song for the contest. Again, the public supported Baber by voting the song to victory. The Department of Tourism liked the song so much that they purchased the licensing rights to the song and have begun using it in their advertising and promotion. Additionally there are talks of a musical project and merchandise line that could help propel the catchy song into the annuals of Arkansas lore.