I always wonder what happens to the songs artists write before they officially become artists. Like, do they make the trip to Nashville? Are they tucked in the glove compartment the whole way? Or do they end up in a drawer somewhere back at mom and dad's house?
For newcomer Austin Webb, not only did his early work make the trip, one song made it all the way to the Grand Ole Opry.
When I caught up with Webb last week, he'd just played Nashville's Ryman Auditorium for his Opry debut. Included in his set list was the very song that brought him to Nashville a few years ago, "Even Angels Fall."
"It's a song about redemption, and it goes, 'Just ask the devil. Even angels fall.' It has a commentary on the biblical reference, and it's kind of autobiographical," Webb told me. "I won a songwriting contest with that song back in South Carolina. And the prize was a couple of lessons with a vocal teacher, and he gave my demo of that song to Byron Gallimore."
After getting a call from Gallimore, the Grammy-winning producer who has worked with Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Sugarland and others, Webb quit his job working on the line at a BMW factory and headed straight to Music City -- and right to Gallimore's house.
"I had deals in the works with all the bigger labels in town, but I took the risk with Byron because he took the risk with me," Webb said about signing with Gallimore's Streamsound Records. "He believed in me from the start, so I was gonna give him the utmost attention. He's like a second father to me now. He's gracious, he's humble and he's incredible."
Even though Webb told me he'd record "Even Angels Fall" someday, his current single is "Slip On By."
"There's a time and a place for every single song out on country radio," he said. "This music is always progressive, and it's always changing. And right now, the theme in this song hasn't been brought up in a while. It's important to reinforce that idea, and people are really responding to it.
"Everybody is trying to make a living, but I'm trying to make a difference."