There’s something symbolic about David Fanning growing up practically on top of the Tennessee-Alabama state line. For much of his life, the rising country music star has been expertly straddling another line: the one between artist and producer.
As the guiding force behind the hot Nashville production team NV Entertainment, David has overseen three #1 hits by Thompson Square and Parmalee, and worked to ready newer acts, like guitar-slinger Lindsay Ell, for the big time. Taking what he has learned behind the console, David also crafted his own brand of country music, which he is finally ready to release into the world.
“Being an artist was always the plan, but sometimes you get there a different way. When me and my partners in NV met Thompson Square and produced their debut album, I got sidetracked, in a good way,” says David. “But when you have an opportunity to expand and get better at your craft, you take it. Producing albums helped me become the artist I am.”
\u2028With his fresh, honeyed voice and the gift to make whatever he records distinctly his own, David is the kind of artist country music needs right now.
“I want my songs to have depth, and touch on all the sounds that today’s music fan cares about,” he says. “On their iPhones, people have Imagine Dragons, Lupe Fiasco and then Florida Georgia Line and Jason Aldean. I wanted to acknowledge that.”
David’s debut single, “Drink You Away,” personifies that mission statement. Originally written and recorded by Justin Timberlake, “Drink You Away” is David’s interpretation of what the pop superstar would sound like had he recorded in Nashville. SiriusXM deejay Storme Warren played David’s version for Justin when he stopped by his radio show, and the song took on a life of its own.
“The song blew up and, with Justin’s blessing, it became the first single,” David recalls. “Justin said he loved my voice, loved everything about the arrangement and to go for it.”
But David first pursued a country career years earlier, when he moved from his parents’ 100-acre farm in Ardmore, Tenn., to Nashville. Forever a fan of country radio—“I didn’t have a favorite country CD that I listened to all day long. I was listening to country radio,” he says—David gravitated to songs by such 1990s stars as Kenny Chesney, Neal McCoy and David Lee Murphy. “I had it all, and I listened to everything,” he says, citing David Lee’s “Dust on the Bottle” as one of the songs that first inspired him. “And now David Lee is one of my good friends, which is amazing to me.”
With “Drink You Away” announcing David’s arrival, he’s anxious to get more of the music he has been recording for Red Bow Records into the hands of fans. Tracks like the moody “Blame It on You,” which he describes as “Imagine Dragons country,” and the driving “Shoulda Loved You Like I Do” are instant crowd-pleasers—and perfect additions to the country radio playlists that David so admires.
To find and maintain exactly the sound he’s after, David produces all of his songs, with input from his comrades in NV. A longtime audiophile, David has been training himself on Pro Tools since he was 14, becoming one of the music industry’s most adept manipulators of the popular recording software. “I taught myself everything by just doing it. I didn’t use books or YouTube or anything. I’ve just done it so long,” he says.
Now, David is poised to equal the success he’s had as a producer, as an artist. Although production is still a key component of who David Fanning is, it’s his own music that will define him.
“I want to tell a story and have influences from every genre,” he says of his forthcoming album. “Country to me is about people wanting to have a good time, but it’s not just about partying all night. There is also depth there.”
Best of all, he’s doing it his own way, following his own creative vision.
“Working with artists like Thompson Square, Parmalee and Lindsay Ell taught me how to stick out,” David says. “But most importantly, I learned how to be me.”