Country up-and-comer Brett Eldredge has always been drawn to singers, a fact that should come as no surprise to anyone who’s heard the Illinois native’s soulful, distinctive baritone. “I always gravitated towards big voices, because as a kid I had this big voice coming out of me,” says Eldredge. “I was hooked on the way that somebody could tell a story through the tone of their voice.” With a Country Music Association Awards’ nomination for “New Artist of the Year,” his single “Don’t Ya” climbing to No. 1 on the country charts, new single “Beat of the Music” most added at radio in its first week and debut album Bring You Back having just released on August 6 on Atlantic Records, Eldredge is finally getting the chance to share a story of his own. Ray Charles, Ronnie Dunn, and Frank Sinatra were the “big voices” that influenced Eldredge in his younger days. When his parents bought him a guitar and a small sound system, he didn’t immediately take to the instrument – “I never could sit still long enough to learn it,” he admits – but the sound system and its wireless microphone became a cornerstone of his early musical training. By age 15, Eldredge was a performer in demand for local functions. “I really grew to love the feel of the crowd,” he says. There was no question that the passion for performance would carry him to Nashville, but Eldredge says his move to Music City after college made one thing clear: He was going to have to pick up that abandoned guitar. “I saw people on stage playing these songwriter nights, just them and a guitar,” he says. So Eldredge locked himself in a room to practice, and eventually started writing songs of his own. “It took me a while to finally get a hold of the guitar, but once I did I was hooked,” he says. “I think being a student of singers works to my advantage, because it taught me how to phrase things. I had melodies all over the place in my head.” He’s since moved on to writing with some of Nashville’s greats, including the legendary “Whispering” Bill Anderson, who taught him that one of the tricks to being a great songwriter is to “just keep writing,” Eldredge says. Two of the singles he’s released so far certainly prove his range, from 2010’s poignant “Raymond” to his No. 1 single “Don’t Ya,” an up-tempo flirtation that ponders the mystery of romantic relations, and showcases the sexy growl in Eldredge’s voice. His writing chops are also gaining recognition with the hit TV show “Nashville” using the Eldredge-penned song “Adios Old Friend,” country star Trace Adkins cutting his song “Watch the World End” (feat. Colbie Caillat) and the Country Music Association featuring him in their esteemed songwriters series in New York City. “You can create something from nothing,” is how Eldredge describes the joy of writing. “That’s the coolest thing in the world to me.” But it’s during his high-energy performances that Eldredge says he feels the most alive – as Taylor Swift fans discovered last spring when he opened 19 dates on the superstar’s The RED Tour. “Everything it takes to get to wherever I’m going to play – every airplane and car I ride in – is so worth it once I’m able to get up on that stage,” says Eldredge. “I want everybody in the crowd to feel the energy that I’m feeling from them.” And when Bring You Back hit stores in August, it was in many ways the culmination of a journey that started with a little kid, a big voice, and a story to tell – and in many ways, says Eldredge, it’s just the beginning: “This new music is me, and it’s taken every song I’ve written up to this point to get to where I am,” he explains. “I feel better about my music now than I ever have felt, and I can’t wait for people to hear it.” Eldredge just wrapped up his first club headlining tour, the “Bring You Back” tour, and will be joining both Keith Urban and Billy Currington out on the road in 2014.