For every hundred guys who threw their guitars in their trucks and moved to Nashville chasing the neon rainbow, there’s probably only one guy who it did it like Ryan Hurd.
He came for the sociology. But he stayed for the music.
“I came to Nashville to go to Belmont. I went to school to be a student,” the Michigan native told me. “I got a sociology degree, and then had an opportunity to go to graduate school. But I said no, because I wanted to give songwriting a shot.”
That shot came, when Hurd banded together with a group of other guys who wanted the same thing he did. First Jake Owen cut one of his cowrites, “Surefire Feeling.”
Then there was the “Payback.”
“You never think your song’s gonna be on the radio,” Hurd said, “until it is.”
When Rascal Flatts cut Hurd’s “Payback,” that was what he said put him on the Music City map.
Even though Hurd came to Nashville for a sociology degree, he got an unintentional songwriting degree. And he learned some hard and fast lessons about perseverance right out of the gate.
“Everybody in Nashville’s heard ‘no’ a thousand times before they heard ‘yes.’ You get used to it. If you work hard enough, you’ll get heard eventually,” he said, adding that Blake Shelton turned down Hurd’s “Lonely Tonight” twice before he recorded it. And look how well that turned out, eventually.
And as swiftly as Hurd moved from songwriting sessions to recording sessions, he’s also getting used to being the one onstage. It’s a move that looks like it comes naturally to him, whether he is up there as part of the CMA Songwriters Series or manning the CMT on Tour After Party.
“I took a shot at songwriting. Then I decided to take a shot at my own record. And now I’m out there connecting with fans who may not know me,” Hurd said, “but they know my music.”