Jaden Hamilton knows that success often comes along with taking risks. A self-taught, rising country singer/songwriter from Louisiana, Hamilton almost took a safe route after high school with plans to earn a degree at Louisiana State University. But, after spending only three weeks in school, he decided to follow his gut. He dropped out of college and began pursuing music full-time in Nashville, Tennessee.
In the fall of 2020, Hamilton, who has already organically grown a massive fan-base on popular social media platforms like TikTok, signed on with Sony Music Nashville and released his four-song EP entitled, Ain’t That Something. The impressive collection, produced by Matthew McVaney, includes the grooving title track and catchy “Thinkin’ Bout You,” along with the toe-tapping “Found Myself in a Country Song,” and romantic “Long Night Letting Go” – which were previously released during the summer of 2020.
Hamilton recently caught up with Country Now to chat about his musical journey, recent EP, and more.
Read on to find out more about Jaden Hamilton in this exclusive Q & A below.
What led you to pursue a career in country music?
I grew up in Prairieville, Louisiana, playing sports. But, I always had a love for music as a little kid. When I was 5 years old, I told my mom that I wanted to grow up to be a country music singer. I took piano lessons when I was 8 and then taught myself how to play guitar in high school. And, I always figured that I’d end up playing sports because that’s what I had done since the time I could walk. But in high school, I started playing more and singing more, just on my own, behind closed doors. Then, I ended up videoing myself singing ‘She Got the Best of Me’ by Luke Combs, and I sent that to some of my buddies. They were like, ‘You need to post it.’ I didn’t want to post it, but they made me post it, and I ended up getting positive feedback on it. So I continued to post online, on Instagram and TikTok. And, that’s what led to me being like, ‘Okay, I love music.’ So, it’s something I always came back to as an escape. Then my buddies talked me into singing at a talent show, and I did that. After that, I was at this point where I was like, ‘Okay, music is what I want to do.’ I knew, though, that I needed to give college a shot first. So, I went to LSU (Louisiana State University) for three weeks, and then I was like, ‘I need to move to Nashville and chase music.’ So, I dropped out of LSU three weeks in and moved to Music City.
Were your parents supportive of your decision to quit school and move to Nashville?
Well, LSU has always been the dream for my family. I have six brothers and sisters, and everybody’s dream was to go to LSU, and nobody did it. I was the only one to do it so far and get accepted. I went there for three weeks, and my family was all excited and super happy for me. Then I dropped it all and moved to Nashville. So, in the beginning, they thought I had made a mistake. They thought I should have taken the safe route in case things didn’t work out. But I knew what I needed to do, and I did it. And, now they are super supportive, now that it’s worked out so far.
When you moved to Nashville, what steps did you take to get your feet off the ground?
I have been pretty blessed because doors have opened for me. When I first got to Nashville, I moved in with a group of guys that I had never met before. We had talked on social media a little bit, and then I moved in with them. They’re cool! A few weeks into living here, I also met my managers. And then, only two months into living here, Sony Music Nashville, emailed me saying they wanted me to sing for them, and so I did. So that was kind of how things started, and since then, I’ve been working with Sony. So, I’ve just been blessed that everything has happened the way that it has because it was so fast. These doors have opened, and they just kept on opening.
It sounds like a combination of talent and luck! So, how has your experience with Sony Music Nashville been so far?
Well, I have a lot of respect for those people who move here. Some people don’t make it, and some people are here for ten years or more, and they’re working, and I respect that. I’m grateful that I have been blessed. It seems like, for me, that this was meant to be and was something that was supposed to happen. So yeah, I met with Sony, and they made me feel at home since the first time I met them, and I’m grateful for how it has played out.
Was it easy to jump into songwriting sessions when you moved to Nashville?
You know, I’ve always tried to write my songs, but I never quite knew how to wrap them up or how to write things in the way I wanted to say it. So I’d always write songs, and then I’d leave them half-finished. Then, when I moved to Nashville, I started writing with great writers. I learned, just from writing with other people, how to finish a song. I learned how to say certain things in a clever way or in a way I never thought I would. So yeah, definitely writing with other people helped me a lot.
You recently released your new EP. Congratulations! How does it feel to have new music out?
Yea! So, I dropped Ain’t That Something, and I’m so proud of this EP. I think a lot of people like it, and I hope more people like it. It just feels good to have something to show for and have something for people to listen to that aren’t cover songs. I have this original stuff from my heart and my mind, and stuff that I’ve written with other people, so it feels great!
What’s the inspiration behind the title track?
I wrote that one with my producer Matt McVaney and Jessica Cayne. It’s a story about a guy that was in a relationship with a girl. They broke up, but she keeps trying to come back into his life and is just bringing him down. She’s a Debbie Downer and just keeps coming back. One night he’s like, ‘Look, if you turn around, there’s a girl to your right, and that’s my girl tonight, I’m sorry, but I got a new girl.’ And she’s all like, ‘I miss you,’ and he’s like, ‘Well ain’t that something. I’ve got a new girl.’ So that’s kind of what that story is. That song’s one of my favorites.
How about ‘I Found Myself in a Country Song.’ How did that one come about?
That song is one I’m most proud of that I’ve ever written because it mentions artists that inspire me like Brooks & Dunn, George Strait, and Jason Aldean. Those are three [artists] that I’ve looked up to and enjoyed their music growing up. They have inspired me in many ways. So, that song is about how much country music has meant to me. One line in the chorus says, ‘If you’re broken, it’ll make you whole,’ and as I said, country music has just been my escape. Whenever you’re down, you can listen to music, and it’ll help you, and that’s what this song is about. George Strait is great, and I’m grateful to be managed by the same people who have managed him. Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson, Jon Pardi, Cody Johnson – I love their authenticity, and their storytelling, and the traditional country sound they bring to the table, is great!
What advice would you give other artists moving to Nashville?
I know things have happened fast for me, and as I said, I’m grateful. But, there were times where I was like, ‘Is this going to come out the way I want it to, or the way I dreamed or envisioned?’ So, you have to tell yourself that it’ll be okay and that there’s always tomorrow. You’ve got to keep going and keep on writing and keep on singing. What also helps me is to keep posting on social media. I mean, that’s how things started for me. So you have to keep posting cover songs and everything. Eventually, maybe one day, something might pop off for you. The possibility of it happening was enough for me to keep doing it, and the chance of getting my music out there for people to hear did it for me too.
You’ve grown over 365,000 followers on TikTok since the beginning of your career. What is it like to reflect on that kind of support, and have you had to adjust the way you engage with your fans online given the current time?
The first cover song that I posted on TikTok that blew up was “A Drop In The Ocean” by Ron Pope. That video got like 70,000 views overnight. I was just blown away by that. That moment almost seemed too good to be true. I didn’t believe it. It was amazing that so many people cared about me and my music and my cover. It felt good and reassured me. But, as far as the current situation that we’re all in right now, I think that has helped people in my social media because that’s the only way we can communicate with each other. The only way to get to people right now is over the phone since there’s not much going on in person. So being able to post videos and live streams, I guess, has been a benefit from this pandemic. We have more time to do that. Just on TikTok right now, I bet there are over a million or two million people that downloaded that app. So, it’s helped me reach people in that way.
Are there any current projects that you’re working on right now that you can share?
I’m not sure when the next release is gonna be, but I am always writing and always making new music.
What’s next for you?
Well, hopefully, the rest of 2021 is full of live music and shows and things opening back up so we can be face-to-face with people and play some shows and make more music!