BRANTLEY GILBERT has quietly gone about making music that matters to the people. A full-grown man from Jefferson, GA who made his bones as a songwriter for others and a punch-it-out-on-the-road performer watched as his JUST AS I AM (The Valory Music Co.) took the Favorite Country Album award at tonight’s American Music Awards over critically-lauded outlaw Eric Church’s The Outsiders and living legend Garth Brooks’ Blame It On My Roots: Five Decades of Influences.
“I wasn’t expecting this,” a stunned Gilbert said onstage. “It was an honor just to be considered for this award, to be in the same category as two people I really look up to and respect in this business…I wanna give credit to the people that don’t get all the bright lights and get to take one of these home: the fans, call’em friends or whatever you want to, this one’s for y’all!”
JUST AS I AM’s Favorite Country Album win marks Gilbert’s first major award. Debuting with over 200,000 copies sold and topping the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart, JUST AS I AM takes the platinum-certified HALFWAY TO HEAVEN’s momentum and shows he’s a force to be reckoned with. His sound, which rocks country’s very foundation has caught the ear of USA Today, who recognized his unique hybrid, “coupling ‘80s-rock machismo with backroads buzzwords.” New York Newsday raved, “on his three albums, the Georgia-born star has been kicking out the jams of Nashville, bringing as much arena-rock bombast to his music as he does the more common sounds and sentiments of the country genre” and AllMusic.com opined, “he’s an outlaw with no desire to rebel, an insider who doesn’t belong, so his music exists just outside of the perimeters of what is accepted and is all the more powerful for it.”
“I write what I know…and I write what I live. It’s gritty, but it’s how life where I come from is. I guess thatreally connected for people, which makes me proud,” the man who’s notched five #1s, as well as writing Jason Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem” and “My Kinda Party” said backstage after the win. “I never thought about being here, but for someone who cares about the music the way I do, it sure feels like the music’s hitting home.”
Currently winding down the second leg of his LET IT RIDE TOUR, selling out major venues nationwide – including a December 5 date at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena and a Florida run before shutting it down for the year. Joining Kenny Chesney’s THE BIG REVIVAL TOUR for its stadium shows, the low-slung writer/artist who’s been compared to Waylon Jennings, Kid Rock and David Allen Coe will head to Europe for a run in February and March.
“Country music isn’t necessarily what people think.” Gilbert explains. ”It’s of the people, working people who know how hard it is to get by – and do it with everything they got. They live proud, they work hard and they love like it’s all that matters. When you write songs that hit like that, you don’t necessarily need a fiddle to connect…”
The New York Times agrees, writing “he’s unapologetically rough, singing with the tenderness of a chain saw. And on this strong album — his third in a row — he betrays no shame about his creatine-fueled version of country music.” Now with an American Music Award for Favorite Country Album, the Academy of Country Music’s New Male Vocalist is set to reach even higher than ever.