If you were to look up the phrase “three chords and the truth” in the dictionary, you might see pictures of country legends like Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, and Johnny Cash . . . but more recently, you might also see Paul Bogart. Though his songs are fresh and he himself is young, he is an old soul with a knack for capturing time-honored traditions and summing up classic sentiments in catchy, three-minute songs. Exuding sincerity and a rare, down-to-earth charm, Paul Bogart is, simply put, the epitome of country music.
“All of my music just fits under a cowboy hat,” Paul says with an honest laugh, explaining the straightforward appeal of his sound. “I want people to shoot straight with me - to just be real - and that’s what my music is: real, sincere songs that people can relate to.”
Possessing elements of a quippy, good-natured Brad Paisley song along with the Wranglers-and-spurs appeal of a George Strait tune, Bogart’s music additionally radiates something that’s been missing from the country scene: authenticity.
“From the time I was just a kid roping calves, my dad taught me that if you’re good, people will see that – there’s never any need to brag.” That attitude still permeates everything Bogart does today, whether it’s touring the country playing upwards of 65 dates a year or writing with some of Nashville’s biggest names in country music. Though he clearly has the heart of a cowboy and the spirit of a gentleman, Bogart also possesses an unrivaled work ethic that displays itself with passion and integrity.
“I started competing in the American Quarterhorse Association at age 12, and still haven’t stopped today. That organization, along with rodeo scholarships, singlehandedly got me through college,” he says with sincere gratitude. With several World Championship titles under his belt by his early twenties, he was also becoming increasingly passionate about music. But, Bogart is proof though that one love need not compromise the other.
“One night, I had a gig playing at a local high school in Tulsa, but I was also supposed to compete in the World Championship show in Oklahoma City just a couple hours later,” he explains. “I couldn’t give up either opportunity, so I rented a helicopter, ran offstage after the concert, flew to the arena and roped in the World Show twenty minutes later,” he says with a smile.
His can-do attitude and naturally positive disposition have served him well in every arena of life, but his story in the music industry actually begins with a fairy tale-esque incident that embodies the stuff Nashville dreams are made of.
Having been born and raised in Oologah, Oklahoma, Bogart was playing shows everywhere around the area, including Tulsa and Oklahoma City, by the time he was in college. However, he had yet to play a hometown show, so during his junior year at Rogers State University, he contacted a local school to see if they needed anyone to play for a fundraiser. The event planner accepted, and soon, homemade makeshift flyers were posted everywhere around town announcing the show. A few days later, Bogart received a phone call at his parent’s house that threw him for a loop.
“I picked up the phone and this guy on the other end says, ‘Hi, my name is Floyd and I work for Garth Brooks. Garth saw your flyers and wants to meet you.’ Well, I thought it was a joke, so I made up some excuse about having to check my schedule!” he recounts incredulously. “A week later the guy called back and asked again if I had time to meet with Garth, and this time I said, ‘Sir, are you serious?’ He verified everything, and sure enough, Garth had somehow gotten a hold of my college demo album and wanted to talk music.”
The relationship that ensued from that initial meeting turned into a huge source of encouragement for Bogart, with Brooks urging Bogart to make the quintessential move to Nashville to see if it was a good fit. “I remember Garth telling me, ‘You’re a successful team roper because you’re in Oklahoma; if you want to be a successful musician, you need to move to Nashville.’”
Bogart did end up taking the leap and moving to Music City the summer after his graduation from Rogers State, and with determination and integrity, he chose to work hard and start from scratch rather than exploit his connection with one of country’s living legends. After taking an initial job as his landlord’s fix-it man, Paul got right to work writing and playing with anyone and everyone he could. He soon found himself writing with the likes of Jim Beavers (Dierks Bentley, “Sideways”), Billy Montana (Jo Dee Messina, “Bring On the Rain”), Tom Douglas (Lady Antebellum, “I Run to You”), and Jamie O’Hara (The Judds, “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Ol’ Days)”). Bogart states, “I just appreciate the opportunity to simply be in the same room with these writers, playing and learning from them.”
Now a permanent Nashville resident, Bogart’s music is quickly becoming a staple around town, and it’s easy to see why. His songs are infectiously unforgettable and his fine-tuned performances never fail to garner an invitation back. The sincerity and truth that resonates from Bogart’s music is disarming, yet confident; his sound is affable, but sincere – much like the singer/songwriter himself. And after just one listen, you realize there really is a cowboy hat on top of it all – Bogart included.