Living the dream in Nashville
by Iain Ferguson
Almost 4000 miles from where he grew up, a young Ayrshire singer/songwriter is carving out a career in the capital city of country music, Nashville, Tennessee.
On stages that launched the careers of legends such as Willie Nelson and Garth Brooks, Chris Andreucci is following in their footsteps and heading to the top of his chosen career.
He has come a long way in a very short time, achieving a number one in the UK iTunes charts and selling out the iconic Glasgow venue, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut. The Ayrshire musician has also performed at the SEC Hydro and opened up for the likes of George Thorogood and the Destroyers and Scottish singer/songwriter Jill Jackson, but it’s across the pond where he is really making giant strides.
After finishing his 6th year at Ayr’s Belmont Academy, Chris headed to Strathclyde University in Glasgow to study International Business and Marketing and it was during this period he began really honing his musical talents.
Chris explained his unique journey to where he is now. He recalled: “I had always been musical and I was lead singer in a band called Orthodox with my school friends, but during university the band went their separate ways and I changed my writing style as I started to mature. I guess I got to live some life experiences and started to write songs that people related to, that’s when I decided to release Chris Andreucci into the world in terms of my own music.”
Chris played in and around Glasgow and beyond, but the major change that totally transformed his musical career came in his third year at Strathclyde when he went on exchange to the University of North Carolina in Greensboro.
He takes up the story: “I have always loved travelling, so when I got the opportunity to study abroad I jumped at it. My thoughts were there’s a whole big world out there and I think I was just very grateful and blessed to be able to experience that.
“I’ve always enjoyed country music, but when I got to North Carolina something clicked inside of me and I knew this was the kind of songwriting and storytelling I was born to write. I loved the laid back way of life and the Southern hospitality. People were very accommodating and that’s really refreshing to see in the world we live in today.”
After going back to Scotland to finish his degree at Strathclyde, Chris had big decisions to make and conversations to have with his parents, Paul and Fiona.
He added: “I remember the conversation vividly. I had just signed a publishing deal to write songs for a living out here in Nashville and they flew me out to record six songs. My dad came with me and on the flight back home to Scotland I told him I wanted to do music and songwriting as a career. So when I got back home I broke the news to my parents that I was going to pack up, leave Scotland and move to Music City.”
That was in in the early part of 2020 and as Chris remembers: “Covid hit and it was a bit of a kick in the teeth. I hadn’t lived with my parents for a while as I’d been at University then living abroad, and during Covid I went back to living with them in Ayr.
“It turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I was pretty naïve going into the move to Nashville. I guess in my eyes, as much as it was a horrible situation for everybody, Covid had some positives as it allowed me to spend time with my family and come to terms with the big life choice I was making.”
He added: “When things opened back up, I managed to get my US Visa and finally make the move out to Nashville. I’ve been here about 18 months now, giving me the unbelievable opportunity to work and hone my craft in an amazing musical environment.”
On setting up base in Nashville, Chris has worked hard to establish himself and he explained how it’s not just live music but also songwriting that pays his bills.
He said: “I have two businesses under the Chris Andreucci umbrella. There’s Chris Andreucci the artist and there’s Chris Andreucci the songwriter. I was fortunate to be able to release a self-penned, six-song EP with Century Music Group back in 2020. During the recording sessions, it was an amazing experience to bring to life the songs I wrote in my bedroom in Ayr in a Nashville studio with world class musicians who had played on many of the popular songs we know and love.”
The resultant EP, What Don’t Kill You, was nominated for album of the year at the British Country Music Association (BCMA) awards in 2021 hosted at Stamford Bridge Stadium in Chelsea, London.
“After the EP, I did a collaboration with award winning DJ and producer CALLEN. It was called ‘Killin’ Time’ and that went to number one on the iTunes chart. I then did another single last year called ‘Strangers In A Bar’, that I wrote with a good friend and very talented songwriter John Haywood here in Nashville. This was a really special release as I got to be on my first big billboard. When I was younger, I never thought driving around Ayr I would get my face on any billboard never mind one in Nashville.”
Next up for Chris is a new single which comes out on June 16 and he enthused: “It’s called ‘To The Moon & Back’. I wrote this one a year ago with Kylie Hughes. She was actually in California at the time and I was here in Nashville so we jumped on a Zoom call and started having a chat about life and relationships gone wrong. I came into the write with the title and a melody idea and we decided to write a love song with a little bit of a twist to it.
“You know, people come and go in your life, relationships end, love can even rekindle and we wanted to encapsulate that in this song. ‘To The Moon & Back’ is really a song about a relationship where they can’t seem to get it right so the girl keeps leaving, but they love each other and can’t let go so they keep getting back together. Through the whole experience the narrator loves the girl unconditionally, even when she’s not with him and he doesn’t know where she is or when she’ll come back. As songwriters this is something that my co-writer Kylie and I had both experienced and I hope people can relate to this song.”
Aside from the recording, Chris is also busy playing live gigs with renowned Nashville company, Cold Beer Entertainment. He said: “They have a lot of venues across the US and their most famous one is Losers in Midtown here in Nashville. I’m very blessed to be in the house band and to play acoustic gigs in such an established and cool honky-tonk bar.”
These opportunities included the chance to play at the legendary MGM Grand in Las Vegas where Chris played a ten day residency in December.
He laughed when recalling: “That was crazy. I love new experiences but ten days in Vegas… I definitely felt a few days older when I left there!”
In addition to live performance and being a recording artist, Chris is making a name for himself as a seasoned songwriter in the Nashville community, writing songs for the likes of Sony Music and Universal Music Group. His most recent songwriting credit is a song titled ‘This Side of the Dirt’, recorded and released by two Nashville staple artists Bryan Frazier and Marc Oriet.
Although plying his trade thousands of miles from home, Chris hasn’t been without family support. His dad travels to America regularly with work and when he gets the chance he heads to Nashville to see his son.
Chris said: “My parents came out with my sister and her fiancé recently and that was a big thing for me to actually get them to see what it was like and what I do for a living. I’m half-way across the world doing something that no one in the family has ever done so when they got to Nashville it was nice for them to meet my friends and see what I’ve achieved so far.”
Although he’s enjoying the success in Nashville, Chris is still keen to share his music with fans in Scotland and he has plans later in the year.
He said: “Although I live here in America, I always fly the flag for Scotland, Ayrshire and the UK as a whole. I usually get back two or three times a year and try to do at least one or two UK gigs.
“I have some news I’d like to share with the Ayrshire Magazine readers. In December I will be returning to the King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut stage for another homecoming Christmas/New Year gig. Stay posted, tickets and information on that will come very soon.”
Influenced by legends as diverse as Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Keith Whitley, Luke Combs and Biffy Clyro, Chris is on a trajectory that’s set to take him to the very top of country music.