Andrew Hopson will always be a country boy from the mountains.
Despite taking the three-and-a half hour drive to Nashville to live his dream as a country musician, he’ll never be too far from his old stomping grounds in Tazewell.
“It’s back to the same old things I always love to do (back in Claiborne County),” Hopson said. “I’m back at the house working on a truck right now.
“I’m still the same guy from Tazewell.”
Hopson released his first original single “Stronger Than That” recently – with instantly positive feedback in just a few days – thanks to the Internet. On Monday, the song reached the top-five in Country Daily’s most streamed country music tracks, according to PLAY MPE, a digital distribution system.
The song also reached No. 16 of Country Weekly’s most downloaded country song streams as of March 13, according to PLAY MPE, ahead of Keith Urban’s newest single, “God Whispered Your Name.”
Hopson previously released a revamped version of John Michael Montgomery’s “Paint the Town Redneck,” with his baritone voice setting the tone for the type of artist he wants to be, holding on to the traditional sound of country songs of past eras, while adding a modern touch inspired by his love of both country, rock and roll and metal music.
“I love country music that rocks,” Hopson said. “I like creating traditional sounding songs and twisting it up a little to give it a Southern rock style.”
“Stronger Than That” holds true to that mantra. The track is set in an East Tennessee bar and grill where the bartender suggests a stiffer drink for a lady who asks for something lighter - what one may find on any given Friday night in the Lakeway Area. With all the usual suspects of beers, girls, and friends, Hopson co-wrote the tune with music industry veteran, songwriter and producer Steven O’Brien, who has also collaborated songs with Brooks & Dunn and Montgomery Gentry.
Hopson said it surprisingly took no time to write and produce the track.
“Actually, we had the melody for the song done in about five to 10 minutes,” he said. “We had the lyrics written in about 30 minutes.
“In all, we probably had the song recorded in about two hours or so.”
As a young newcomer to the country music scene, Hopson knows breaking into the business means a great deal of hard work. That means lots of live shows throughout Nashville, but he said no matter how many shows he does, he will bring the same energy to the audience through traditional country, Southern rock or a ballad.
“It’s amazing to see the kind of emotion a song can pull from an audience,” Hopson said. “The crowd can hear and feel how much I love performing with every word I sing and every strum of my guitar.”
“Stronger than that” was initially scheduled to be released on March 6, however, the tornadoes that devastated the Nashville area delayed that date. Hopson’s thoughts were far from a record release, but rather, on friends and colleagues who lived in the areas affected by the storm.
“A lot of areas were hit hard (by the tornadoes),” he said. “I’ve got a couple of buddies who live in the path of the tornadoes, but no one got hurt.
“There were a couple of places that were hit pretty badly.”
Hopson also said Nashville suffered a double blow with the onset of COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus. Schools are closing, many of the venues he plays in have closed for the time being and several of the bigger acts are canceling tour dates because of the disease.
“I think it’s scary for those on tour, and Vanderbilt (as well as the other schools) is closed for the rest of the semester,” he said. “I’m alright with my smaller shows, but everything’s been put on hold for now.”
For now, Hopson is back home in Claiborne County, where he said he’ll always belong. He also said Nashville will bounce back from its calamities and be better than it ever has been, but no place will ever be better than home.
“I live off the side of a mountain – and I love it here. I’ll always live in the mountains,” Hopson said. “I did an interview with a reporter from the UK not too long ago, and she asked me will I move to Nashville for good.
“I told her my feet are good for the pavement for a few days, then I’ll be ready for the mountain again.