About UsThe Early Years
Born the middle son of 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 parent’s 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, its not to shabby. It's by no means my best work, but it was fun to do.”
Off to Nash Vegas
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 sharks. 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 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
For the past few years Barrett could be heard playing covers and originals in hazy bar rooms and fraternity houses across Arkansas. “Honestly, there were times over the past couple of years 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. “I really am proud of ‘Guys Like Me’. Instead of forcing out radio friendly songs, I just let myself write what felt good…it was refreshing and my hope is that my fans will be able to feel that when they listen to it,” says 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 his newest release "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 is easily Barrett's finest work. "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 can't wait for people to hear it and I hope it's as fun to listen to as it was to write and record." says Baber. Baber continues to play all over the mid-south in support of CSS and plans to continue. “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."
Nightflying Article About BarrettBelow is an article that appeared in the June 2009 Issue of Nightflying Entertainment Magazine
Meet Barrett Baber: Every Day Guy, Helluva Talent
As a child, Barrett Baber left his mark on the church pew while his father stood on the pulpit preaching the word of the Lord. He spent many nights each week in that church house and it stayed with him, thought not quite like you’d think.
“My dad was a Southern Baptist minister ‘til I was 20,” Baber said. “So I guess you could say that I got my start in music right away because of church. When your pops is the preacher you never miss church and are pretty much required to be involved in everything…this included church music so at an early age I was singing.”
His talent is on display on his debut album “Guys like Me,” an independent release that shows much promise. Baber possesses an ability to display an emotional ethos that still remains tongue-in-cheek. Songs like “God D*mn You, Sallie Mae” put his humor out front while tunes like “Guys Like Me” show an eye to lyrical detail that far surpasses the typical solo acoustic guy playing at the corner pub. “Prisoner Worship at the Stone County Jail” is a coming of age tune that displays both youthful arrogance and vulnerability as he discusses a relationship with a girl whose father was a minister. The experience soon takes an unexpected turn when the father makes a proposition.
“We started talking ‘bout Jesus and where I went wrong/And he asked if I knew any gospel songs/I said yes and three dates later I’m sitting at a table/With prison guards and cans of mace/Trying not to sh*t cause I knew that I’d forget/The last stanza of ‘Amazing Grace.’”
This is only example of Baber’s songwriting abilities, which are on display in “Guys like Me.” He feels that each song must possess something special to connect with the listener.
“When a person hears a song and thinks ‘man, I feel the same way’ or ‘this guy just read my mind’ or it just captivates you emotionally from the music and stimulates you mentally from the message…that’s special…and hard to do,” he said.
Baber’s journey has come a long way from the church house. Throughout the years, his musical tastes veered from hymns and praise songs to the grunge movement of the 90s. Bands like Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, and Better Than Ezra exposed him to music beyond the gospel. When he enrolled at Ouachita Baptist University, he spent much of his time strumming away on an acoustic guitar in his dorm room during his first semester. Then he discovered an artist that truly changed his tastes.
“Early on when I started writing my own songs I was heavily influenced by Edwin McCain,” said Baber. “He’s a virtually unknown guy who’s had one big hit, but I bought his record and was just blown away by his writing ability. From there I discovered guys like Ryan Adams, Angie Aparo, David Ryan Harris and Pete Yorn. I’d say in the past two years or so I’ve been really influenced by John Mayer. I don’t think a lot of people recognize just how talented of a musician and song writer he is, and it’s a shame because he really is that good.”
His first gigs came from the urging of friends, who were members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity at Arkansas State University. They offered Baber $50 and a case of beer to play their date night. He drove up to northeast Arkansas and suddenly he saw the light.
“The show was nuts! I figured ‘sh*t…maybe I should think about doing this more often.’ I started booking shows at the only place in Clark County to get a cold beer the Caddo Valley Canteen VFW. From there I just started playing whenever, wherever for whatever,” he said.
Baber’s years at OBU influenced him immensely, both from a performance standpoint and in his worldview. A voice scholarship allowed him to attend the school where he sang for the Ouachita Singers Choral group under the direction of Dr. Charles Fuller, who shaped Baber’s performance.
“One of the most important things Dr. Fuller taught me was that sounding good is important, but equally important is the visual art of performance. I hope that’s translated from my choral music training into what I do now…engage the audience with my eyes and create an experience, not just noise,” he said.
The experience shaped him from a writing experience as well. Life at OBU is what Baber called a “church camp bubble,” one that dissipated quickly once life in Arkadelphia was gone. He said, “It was the shock of real life in the real world that shaped my writing the most and I have OBU to thank for that.”
These days, Baber spends time with his wife, Sarah, and keeps a full schedule playing gigs throughout Arkansas. His particular niche lies in the Little Rock bar scene. He usually performs with a lead player and a percussionist. A full band is something he is considering for the future. However, he said, “I really do dig the stripped down acoustic gig.”
He began writing “Guys like Me” two years ago. The process was sometimes fruitful, sometimes painfully slow. After completing enough songs that he felt were strong enough, he assembled musicians Colby Waggener (lead guitar) and Brandon Vick (djembe) to help arrange the tunes. He recorded the album at Infra Red Studio Productions in North Little Rock. “Those guys couldn’t have been a better fit. They really caught on to what I wanted the record to sound like and made it happen,” he said.
Baber is planning to tour throughout Arkansas and western Tennessee and maybe branch out to Texas. He’s currently playing 10 to 15 shows a month, which is quite a feat for an acoustic player. However, he’s love lies in the performance not the rock ‘n’ roll glory.
“I’m not naïve, I understand enormous odds that are stacked against me as far as being a household name and all,” Baber said. “Honestly, I’m okay with not being a household name. In the long term, I think my place in the music world will be in songwriting. My real dream is to be unknown by the common man but well known by the music man for writing good tunes for others to perform.”
For hear more music, watch videos, and buy songs, visit: www.barrettbaber.com.
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