Growing up, Adam Doleac had no idea he would one day land in Nashville. As a teen, the Hattiesburg, Mississippi native excelled in a number of different sports and received scholarship offerings from various schools. He chose to earn his degree in his home state, where he played Division 1 baseball for the University of Southern Mississippi. During that time, Doleac collected three conference championship rings and played in the 2009 College World Series.
Eventually, he was sidelined by an injury and ended up developing a passion for music. He credits his college roommates for helping him discover his love for music, as many of them played the guitar.
“I would pick up their guitar whenever I was home, and they were out of town,” Doleac recalls of his college years. “During my last two and a half years of college, I did that as a hobby. I also started making weekend trips to Nashville to write with my buddies and meet new people. I think, even without getting hurt, I would have wanted to pursue music.”
In 2012, Doleac moved to Nashville and began to carve out his country music career. After some time, he began to catch the eye of some of Music City’s key players, including SiriusXM’s The Highway. Not only did the station name him a 2017 Highway Find, but it also put Doleac’s songs in rotation. The Highway has continued to support the singer/songwriter as his recent single, “Famous,” climbed to the No. 1 spot on The Highway’s Hot 30 Countdown, where it stayed for two consecutive weeks.
On top of his soulful pipes, Doleac also has a stellar songwriting talent, having penned songs for Kane Brown and Darius Rucker. His newest co-penned tune, “Rollin’,” is included on the new Hootie & The Blowfish album, Imperfect Circle.
Of course, Doleac’s rising star continues to shine too. He recently released a two-pack of ear-grabbing singles, “SOLO” and “Wake Up Beautiful.”
In a recent interview with Country Now, Doleac opened up about his musical journey, his new music and his plans for the near future. Read on for our exclusive Q & A with Adam Doleac.
Melinda Lorge: What drew you to country music?
Adam Doleac: The storytelling of country music sucked me in. Being able to write songs and play them for people and then watch people be moved by them is a cool thing and my favorite thing about country music.
Lorge: Do you think you still would’ve gotten hit by the music bug had you gone to a different university?
Doleac: You know, probably not. I originally signed a full-ride to play golf at a school in North Mississippi. I’ve always had the music bug though, as you say, just as far as being a music lover and listening to it. My dad was a drummer, my older brother was a drummer and I had a drum set when I was two years old. So, I’ve always been around music, but I don’t think I ever would have got into writing and playing music in Nashville without the path that I took.
Lorge: What response did you get from family and friends when you told them you were moving to Nashville?
Doleac: I think everybody probably thought I’d be back in about a year – I know my mom did. Everyone in my family lives in the same city in Mississippi. I was the only one to move away. When I moved, [playing music] was still a hobby for me. It was so brand new, so I don’t think anyone knew what to think. I didn’t know a single person when I moved to Nashville, so that was scary in its own right. My mom and dad, while probably not knowing what was going on, if I would stay there long or how it would go, were very supportive and they have always been very supportive of me moving up here and chasing this crazy thing. I was lucky to have that, and it’s worked out pretty well so far.
Lorge: Several artists have began staking their claim on your songs. When did you start songwriting?
Doleac: I started writing back in college with a couple of my baseball teammates. We just, kind of, made things up. Looking back now, they weren’t very great songs. But it was a good start because it got me to move to Nashville. After a few years in Nashville, I signed with Sony/ATV. I’ve been there for four years now, and that’s where I attribute diving into writing. They set me up with all of these great writers who have been writing for a long time. And, you write a song every day. You sit there, you laugh and get better every day. Songwriting is like a muscle. The more you do it, the better you get. Luckily, it came pretty naturally for me. And then having guys like Kane [Brown] and Darius Rucker, and now I got a song on the new Hootie & the Blowfish record that’s coming out, which is pretty cool. One of my favorite records growing up was Cracked Rear View from Hootie & the Blowfish. Having guys like that call you and say, ‘Hey, we love this song you’ve written, and we want to take it for ourselves,’ is a cool thing. It builds your confidence.
Lorge: Can you tell us more about “Rollin’” on the new Hootie & the Blowfish record?
Doleac: I wrote the song with the bass player of Hootie & the Blowfish. We had a writing camp at Sony one day. They all came in, and we all split off into separate rooms and wrote a bunch of songs. Ours happened to be the only song they picked. Jeff Trott, he did a bunch of Sheryl Crow’s early stuff, and he’s produced a lot of really great stuff. He’s producing the Hootie [& the Blowfish] record. He called me and had me come into the studio to sing harmonies on the record for the song that I wrote. That’s how I found out, which was awesome.
Lorge: Can you tell me the story behind “SOLO?”
Doleac: That’s a funny story. When I moved here, there was really nothing. Now, new buildings are popping up everywhere. Right across the street from my house is an apartment complex that went up. The apartment complex is called Solo East. I have a swing on my front porch, so pretty much every morning I go out there and have coffee, and sit and hang for about thirty minutes. I just kept staring at this title called “SOLO.” I’m a title person, and I like for a title to look cool on paper before I start writing it. I don’t know why. It’s just the way I am. So, I had that idea in my head for a while, and, finally, I ended up writing half of the song on an airplane, which kind of comes up with the ‘stayover layover’ aspect of things. That’s where the idea came from, and I ended up finishing it with two of my buddies, Jason Gant and Chris Gelbuda.
Lorge: How about “Wake Up Beautiful”? How did that song come about?
Doleac: That was kind of like a three-minute pickup line, that song. I like writing songs where I can point at the crowd and sing to them the whole time, so that’s kind of what that song is. It recently came out, but we’ve been playing it in our live set for a couple of years now. It’s a song that felt very summertime and had a lot of energy for the live show. It felt like the right time for it to come out, so I’m glad that it’s finally out. It was the first song I recorded. We did six songs. If we would have done seven, it would have been that song. It missed its chance the first time around, and now it’s out.
Lorge: Which song of yours would you consider most personal to you?
Doleac: “Mom and Daddy’s Money.” That was probably the scariest song I’ve released thus far because it’s autobiographical for me down to the red go-cart in the first line of the song. I really had that red go-cart. The video on YouTube was just home videos from when I was a child, and that’s my band and me. It was the first glimpse into like, ‘Hey, this is who Adam Doleac is, and this is who he wants to be.’ That’s why that song is so important to me. It’s also become one of my favorite songs to play in the set for the live show because it’s this quiet stripped-down moment where people can know a little more about me than they did before they got there.
Lorge: After seeing success with “Famous,” did you feel any pressure sharing new music?
Doleac: I think you just keep growing and growing. I write music for people, so I want as many people to hear it as possible. “Famous” has opened doors, and gained a lot of new fans for us, and that allows me to keep doing what I’m doing. Hopefully, these people are becoming fans of not just a song, but also of me as an artist. Putting out new music is nerve-wracking though because you never know if people are going to like it. I always tell people when they ask about this kind of thing, ‘Well, most people have a 9 to 5 job or whatever it may be with a boss that they answer to. Being an artist is a little different because we have fans. The fans are our bosses. If they love it, we’ve done our job. If they don’t, we’ve gotta try again.’ So, it’s always a toss-up putting music out, but luckily everything has been doing well so far.
Lorge: You’ve grown a strong relationship with SiriusXM and you were also a Highway Find in 2017. What does that mean to you to have the support from that channel?
Doleac: It means a great, great deal. I just sent music to them and said, ‘Hey, here’s a song called ‘Whiskey’s Fine.’’ It was the first single I had out. I called the Highway and said, ‘Hey, see if you guys like this song.’ A couple of weeks went by, and the guy ended up getting back to me. He said, ‘Hey, we don’t like this song, we love this song, and we want you to be a Highway Find.’ That’s a big reason for how we got to where we are with the song today. You have to have someone believe in you before anyone else does, and SiriusXM was very much that for me. I got very lucky that they supported me, and still do. It has turned into a great relationship, and I have them to thank for a lot of things.
Lorge: What’s next for you?
Doleac: We’re going to be out on the road. We don’t have a tour, but we’ll be doing shows pretty much every week through October and November of this year, so we’re going to stay busy. As far as new music goes, there’s plenty ready to come out. As far as when it comes out, I’m not sure when that’ll be yet, maybe later this year or early next year. I don’t know if it’ll be an album. The way people consume music now is a little different, and I kind of like this recipe we’ve had going for a couple of songs at a time. I’m always making new music so we’ll see. The next step for us is to sign a record deal, get out to terrestrial radio, and get this thing growing fast.