Rising artist Seth Ennis had a front row seat for the price of freedom growing up as a military brat. His father served as a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Air Force and flew Black Hawks on rescue missions in Operation Desert Storm during the Gulf War.
Looking back, Ennis believes he was unaware of the danger that his father’s job entailed. Home was primarily in Georgia. But moving to military bases in Japan, Florida, Washington, DC and elsewhere every three years was normal. Thanks to his father, music became his one constant.
“I have two brothers, and he was pretty strict on me and my brothers growing up,” Ennis tells CMT.com. “He came up from nothing and made himself into this colonel in the Air Force, and so, he had this really hard work ethic that instilled in me and my brothers.
“He made me and my older brothers take piano lessons when I was five years old, and I absolutely hated it. He said that if I met this quota of lesson books, and learn the [Peanuts] theme, then I could choose any instrument I wanted to play.”
Ennis fulfilled his father’s quota, learned the Vince Guaraldi classic and at eight years old, he got a job with his brothers delivering Spotlight magazines on the air force base; a gig that paid $300 a month. In no time, he saved the $600 to purchase his first set of drums. From there, music became Ennis’ life.
His “Call Your Mama” music video is a beautiful tribute to those who serve. Ennis and his manager came up with the treatment, which follows a veteran who loses his mother. The story is complete with a heartfelt familial twist in the end.
Ennis wrote it with Michael Hardy based on a text Ennis received from his mother that read, “Call your mama. Call your mama. Call your mama.”
“Like anybody,” Ennis recalls, “I freak out and I called mom to see what’s going on and she just wanted to talk about some kind of small town drama stuff, which is actually a line in the song.
“It was right around the time my dad lost his mom, and I was watching my dad go through that. It was the first grandparent I lost. When you lose a grandparent, it’s weird because you hurt for yourself, but you hurt more for your parents to watch them have to go through that.”
Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman knew the song was special when they first heard Ennis perform it live while opening for the band in London.
“I recorded the song and thought what would make this even better is if Little Big Town wanted to sing on it with me,” Ennis says. “They were a big reason why I cut the song in the first place. I thought, ‘What are they going to say, no?’ I asked them if they wanted to be a part of it, and they so graciously did. Now I get to say I’m on a song with some of my heroes that I’ve listened to for so long. They crushed it.”
“Call Your Mama” featuring Little Big Town is the newest release from Ennis’ forthcoming full-length debut. He joins Dylan Scott’s Nothing to Do Town Tour Jan. 17 in New York City.