Growing up in rural Louisiana, Todd O’Neill learned to appreciate music. He was singing and formed his first band, Big Cat Daddy, at age 17. The singer describes his sound…
“From its melting pot of genres. Louisiana has so many different styles, and I think my music captures a little of all of them.”
A fan of Merle Haggard, George Jones, and Otis Redding, O’Neill’s music blends Cajun Zydeco and New Orleans rhythm and blues (R&B). After touring in his home state for more than a decade, he decided to enter Cumulus Media’s Nash Next Challenge because according to the songwriter…
“It looked like a great avenue for my music career and it HAS been. So glad I did!”
He won the Challenge last year, along with a Big Machine recording contract, a single produced by Rascal Flatts’ Jay DeMarcus, and guaranteed airplay on all Cumulus country radio stations. O’Neill sums up the experience.
“I went from singing at local bars in Hammond, Louisiana to Nashville, Tennessee.”
The DeMarcus produced single, “Love Again,” was written by Cary Barlowe, Jesse Frasure, and Brett Young. He first heard the song at a plug meeting.
“I absolutely loved the funky feel and the positive message.”
That message was about a guy giving love a second chance, after failing at previous relationships. Everyone was excited to have found the song – until they learned Young had a hold on it.
O’Neill shared with Nash Country Daily NashFM 93.7’s Lisa Konicki how he was finally able to record the tune.
“We are in New York playing a show at a place called Printer’s Alley, and we played on a Wednesday night. Thursday we were supposed to fly out. Well, we get snowed in. A foot of snow drops. The next morning I get a call from my manager, Barbara, and she says, ‘Todd, guess who’s stuck in town with us? Guess who’s playing at Printer’s Alley, where you played last night? Brett Young…you should go and ask him and just talk to him.’ I said, ‘No way. It’s Brett Young.’
One, how am I going to get near him. And I can’t just go ask Brett Young for his song. Well, I did. I went to the show and I introduced myself. He was super nice through the whole thing and I told him about the contest. I told him who I was and who I was working with. We were under that Big Machine umbrella together. I said, ‘By the way, Brett, I really love your song, ‘Love Again.’ He said, ‘Well, you should cut it.’ I was like, ‘Well I can’t.’ He said, ‘Why?’ And I said, ‘Well you put it on hold, I can’t.’ And he said, ‘Todd, if you want that song and you are ready to cut, I want you to have it.’ It speaks volumes of his character really.”
Days later, back in Nashville, O’Neill cut the song, adding his Louisiana soul side, banjo, synthesizer, piano, and guitar, along with an old school feel in his vocals.
Currently touring, the 35-year-old musician said his favorite venue to perform at is Chicago’s Joe’s on Weed Street because of its “killer atmosphere.” His favorite songs to perform are Bob Segar’s “Night Moves,” and “I Got Your Number,” his original tune that won the Nash Next Challenge.
For more on O’Neill and tour dates, including a hometown stop August 25th, visit his website.