Thomas Rhett to Perform “T-Shirt” on 2016 CMT Music Awards

He Reflects on the Mental Notes He Didn't Know He Was Taking

“Little did I know, I’ve actually been preparing for this since I was 4 or 5 years old.”

That’s what Thomas Rhett just told me when we had a chance to talk about his summer touring and “T-Shirt,” the current No. 1 country single he’ll be performing Wednesday night (June 8) on the 2016 CMT Music Awards.

Thomas Rhett grew up around country music — his dad is singer-songwriter Rhett Akins — and he spent a lot of time watching him and going on the road with him.

“Without even knowing it, I took a lot of mental notes as a kid,” he said.

“For the longest time, I was always trying to figure out what else to do with my life. I thought dad was the singer, and that I’d sell insurance or be an accountant,” he said of his original career plans.

Once he got into high school, though, he said it was undeniable that music was something he was always meant to do. He learned to play guitar, then how to play it while he was singing, then how to write what he called “really horrible songs,” and then he started playing little bars and fraternity house parties.

“Starting at the bottom like that, to where I’m at now, and all the ups and downs it takes to be successful, is crazy to me,” he said. “When I think about the clubs I played when only 15 people showed up, and now I’m getting to play CMA Fest. I’m super grateful for that.”

He will be performing “T-Shirt” during the 2016 CMT Music Awards, airing live from Nashville Wednesday (June 8) at 8 p.m. ET, and he’ll be visiting the Budweiser Country Club on Sunday afternoon during the CMA Music Festival in Nashville.