Chase Matthew Beats Drug Problem, Homelessness To Become Rising Country Star
Chase Matthew's grandparents stood huddled beside his dressing room door at the Grand Ole Opry Tuesday night, waiting to pray with him before he went on stage. The 25-year-old Nashville-area native was dressed in black and full of frenetic energy as he darted between his dressing room, his family, executives from his record label and a camera crew following him, capturing every minute.
Matthew didn't think he'd be nervous about making his Grand Ole Opry debut, but he was. When he stepped into the Opry's famed spotlight, he told the audience he hadn't had so much anxiety since his high school talent show. They laughed.
"God's got a plan, and it's showing," Matthew said after his performance. "He is not giving up on us. That's how I'm feeling right now. We're rolling."
It's a new scene for the singer who grew up surrounded by a family of preachers. He admits he made poor choices as a teen, which were amplified when his best friend was murdered. The country singer dropped out of high school, dabbled in the rap world, had a drug problem, and was homeless as a 19 year old before managing to straighten his life out and pursue a country music career. He signed with Warner Music Nashville in 2022 and now averages 1.5 Million monthly listeners on Spotify. He recently released his heartbreaker, "The Way I Am," and will relaunch his Love You Again Tour next week.
His voice quivered as he sang in the Opry's famed circle. He desperately wanted to remain stoic during his performance and valiantly tried to keep his tears at bay. Matthew said he's not a sappy person and feels like he's already cried enough in his life.
"I've been through so much," he said, seated on the piano bench in his dressing room with his elbows resting on his knees. I don't like to cry. I don't think anybody likes to cry. If you do, it's kind of weird. I don't like to show my emotions, but tonight I felt like I needed to just let them out there. I honestly feel like I did really well, better than I thought I was going to do. And my guys killed it."
Matthew is the man who never forgets a name and is always quick with a hug and a thank you, even for those who aren't used to receiving it. He has an easy, wide smile and the determination of a young person who hopes he has already lived the hardest days of his life. He wore a cross on a long chain around his neck and referenced it on stage. He told the audience that many people struggle with believing in themselves, and people have to remember to chase their dreams.
"No matter what anybody says about you, make them happen," he said. "If you can believe in yourself, it'll automatically happen. If you trust God's plan, he'll put you exactly where you need to be. There's a lot of people that didn't want to see me win. They didn't want to see me succeed. I hope that their dreams come true. For all the people that prayed for me to fail, praying like that don't make you religious."
Matthew's family had been praying all day for him. He's had a hectic week. On Monday, he met and sang for radio programmers at Country Radio Seminar in Nashville. He made his Grand Ole Opry debut on Tuesday, and Wednesday he was scheduled to shoot the album cover for his first album with Warner Music Nashville due out later in the year.
Everyone in his family hasn't always been so understanding. Most of his relatives love music and supported him chasing his career, but some couldn't understand why he didn't want to be a preacher. He said they have to recognize that they can't reach everyone from the pulpit.
"Jesus partied with the sinners," he said. "I might party or drink or smoke, but you can't judge people for living that life because they're lost. I've done it. I get lost every once in a while. I have to reel it back in. I want to be a success story. And tonight I felt like I was on the right path to being inspirational and what the world needs more of."
Matthew said he was grateful the Opry invited him to make his debut because he knows most people don't get the opportunity. When he took the stage, he felt like he was "a walking testimony" of what can happen even when everything comes against someone.
"All I've ever wanted to be is a success story because so many people didn't want to see me win," he said. "I want to give country music morals again. Make sure every decision you make in life that you do it with the full meaning of your heart."