#CMchat Exclusive Interview: Brandon Stansell

“A country artist you need to know” – Rolling Stone
“Brandon Stansell will croon his way into your heart…” – HuffPost

“His is a bold new voice in the genre, as comfortable making you tap your foot as shed a tear – a singer songwriter with something to say, and a voice to remember.” – Press Release

As a child, Brandon Stansell took singing lessons in his hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee. The young performer could be found on the Opryland stage as part of an Easter children’s matinee show. At just six years old, he felt like he owned the world – the children even shared their own dressing room. One day Stansell went backstage only to find the dressing room door locked. He pounded on the door to get in. A young artist, who was about to make her Opryland debut, opened the door to an upset Stansell who wondered why she was in their room. After being told it was her room to use that day, he left. The young artist? Faith Hill.

Stansell would love to chat with Hill about their initial meeting. He almost had a chance when he was in college and a backup dancer for Taylor Swift’s Fearless Tour. Before they hit the stage, the performers would gather around Swift for a preshow huddle. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Hill, who would perform with Swift later that evening. Alas, he never got a chance to share the funny memory with her. On a side note, he is one of the members of Swift’s crew that inspired her Speak Now track “Long Live.”

I Can’t Do This Anymore” (Stansell’s first penned track, cowritten with his college buddies, and his introduction to the process of song writing)

Attending his first Stagecoach Festival this past spring, he came, not as a performer, but to do press interviews and watch other artists, something he finds fun and educational – a chance to learn from the best. Finding his country music voice was difficult at first for the artist. When he couldn’t get his footing in Nashville, he moved to Los Angeles. Stansell started writing after a bad breakup. The first song, “Dear John,” was a goodbye letter to an ex. He compared its raw emotions to one of, in his opinion, the best songs of the decade, if not an all-time Top 10, Carly Pearce’sEvery Little Thing.” From heartache he too found his voice.

Dear John (Official Video) Song Credits Writers: Brandon Stansell, Hailey Steele, and Parker 

Drawing on such intimate personal experience, the independent artist thrives on having control over his music choices, working with a great supportive team, and being able to record music close to his heart. He knows each year he is doing more than the last and still having fun. Stansell would love to be making music full time.

For the past five years, his days are spent running a visual advertising agency for Broadway and off Broadway shows, along with 12 touring markets. From his Los Angeles office (his firm has a sister location in New York), he is at his desk at 7 every morning. When the clock strikes 3 in the afternoon, Stansell shifts gears back to his own music, writing, meeting, or doing something to help fund his true passion.

He says his sound is different from other males in country. Growing up, listening to 90s country including Lee Ann Womack and Vince Gill, his dream collaboration would be with Dolly Parton. He wonders what it was like for Brad Paisley when he shared the stage with Parton, singing their “When I Get to Where I’m Going” duet. Whether on an intimate stage or in front of a festival crowd, Stansell feels equally comfortable connecting with the audience. Regardless of how a song charts, he is very proud of it and the journey it takes him on.

His theater background is evident in the videos for his songs. Working with director Trent Atkinson, he adds another dimension to his already many layered lyrics. The two began working together on “Dear John,” and have since added videos for “Never Know” and “Slow Down.”

Never Know” Writers: JD Shuff, Erik Halbig, and Brandon Stansell

Slow Down

From his debut full-length album, the video for “Slow Down” has been streamed more than 600,000 times on YouTube. The song, released last October, features fellow artist Ty Herndon. While the two have known each other for years, Stansell has been a lifelong fan of Herndon’s.

Ty HerndonSlow Down” Acoustic Cover & Interview with Brandon Stansell- watch it here.

Using his music to support causes dear and near to his heart is very important to Stansell.

“Coming out was the most tumultuous experience of my life…And a big part of my passion is also my advocacy work. I hear from people in my community so often through email, about what it means to feel represented in this genre. And if there is anything that I can do to have one less person have to go through what I went though, then it’s all worth it. It’s not just that people are hearing music that they enjoy – it’s artistry and advocacy going hand in hand.”

He isn’t afraid to take a stand on political issues. His song, “Spare Change,” was written the year before the last presidential election and is a strong statement that people should feel safe here and are welcome to stay. 

Spare Change” Writers: Mylen and Brandon Stansell.

When he isn’t working or performing, Stansell is a cross fit junkie. Oh, and perfecting his inner Blanche, his favorite Golden Girl. This Southern boy brings joy to everything he does and everyone he meets.

Stansell will perform at the CMA Fest:

*June 5, 8:30PM, at the Cambria Hotel Nashville Downtown / with special guests to be announced

*June 7, 7PM, at the Wildhorse Saloon Nashville / Concert for Love & Acceptance / with Tanya Tucker, Ty Herndon, Billy Dean, Cale Dodds, Parson James, Temecula Road, Thompson Square, Terri Clark, Cam, Shelly Fairchild, Cassadee Pope, Michael Ray, Calcum Scott, Anita Cochran

Connect with Stansell:

Webiste, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

Author: Donna Block

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