Todd O’Neill is the latest artist to have found his way into the heart of Nashville through a singing competition, but this competition is a little bit different.
In late 2016, Todd O’Neill won the first-ever NASH Next Challenge and received a recording contract with Big Machine Label Group, as well as national radio airplay on Cumulus Media radio stations all around the U.S. #CMchat caught up with him to talk about the competition, his musical journey and his new single “Love Again.”
Todd O’Neill hails from Hammond, LA, and he credits his roots for his self-described “pure Louisiana soul” sound.
“Louisiana is such a melting pot, especially for music. We have all these different cultures colliding together in one space. We’ve got everything from Zydeco to Cajun to rock and roll, soul, jazz and country. It’s a great place to grow up and be a musician. You could drive an hour and it can be a completely different culture and style.”
While honing his craft in over 150 live performances last year alone, he feels that fighting to make enough money to live on and trying to make a name for himself, even just in Louisiana, has been his biggest obstacle. Winning the NASH Next Challenge should help change that, and he has his friends to thank for pushing him to enter.
“It’s an interesting story. Within a 24-hour period I had three personal friends either text me or email me information on the contest and I saw it as a sign from the good Lord above. I actually forwarded the information to my manager, Barbara, who read everything over and called me back a few minutes later. She said ‘OK Todd, you’ve got to do this. This is going to be a great opportunity.’”
In the beginning stages of the NASH Next competition, each contestant submitted videos that were voted on by fans. Todd O’Neill feels that he has a very special relationship with his fans.
“I’m going to be honest with you, I have so much support, especially in my home state. I don’t even call them fans. I call them family, really, because they’ve been there for such a long time, supporting me and what I do and my songs. Every time I do a new project, they are just as fired up as I am about it releasing and this is no exception. They have stood by me through the contest, voted for me, and come to the shows. Showing up singing every word to my original material is the most rewarding thing.”
Todd O’Neill just released his first single, “Love Again,” on Nash Next Records under Big Machine Label Group and it’s a song that he loved from the first listen.
“As soon as I heard ‘Love Again’ for the first time, I instantly fell in love with that song and was drawn to it. Here’s a fun, upbeat song that’s different, but it also kind of shows the soul side of my country music, which I love.”
“Love Again” talks about finally finding a love that makes you want to leave your old life behind and settle down. The clever chorus attests, “You make me want to trade in whiskey and weekends, you make me want to stay in with you every night.” The song was penned by Brett Young, Jesse Frasure and Cary Barlowe and was produced by Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts fame. Todd O’Neill had a blast working with Jay DeMarcus in the studio.
“He is such a character, that guy. I’ve been a Rascal Flatts fan since ‘Praying for Daylight.’ I’m going to tell you, to be in the same room with him, he makes everybody in the room feel so comfortable. He’s a jokester and just probably the funniest guy in the industry I’ve met yet. He’s just a hard-working guy and a great guy to know.”
Throughout Todd O’Neill’s journey he has figured out that the main goal in life is happiness.
“I’m gonna tell you, you have to be happy with yourself. Whatever you do. If you’re a mechanic, if you’re a plumber, if you’re an electrician, anything you do, you have to be happy with yourself. I’ve come to a point, even before the competition, where I was happy. I put the work in. I was making the rounds down in Louisiana, doing what I do. I got out of the competitive frame of mind and just became happy with myself, comfortable with music that I was writing, music I was recording, and where I was at as a person, much less an artist. I think anything you do in life, you have to be happy.”
Todd O’Neill will be traveling the country with the NASH Next Live tour sponsored by Country Inn & Suites, an exclusive set of shows where fans can enter to win tickets. Check out toddoneillonline.com for more tour dates and download “Love Again” on all the major digital outlets.