Singer-songwriter Nate Barnes was working at a nuclear power plant in Michigan when his musical dreams came to fruition. He spent years playing bars, coffee shops, small venues and festivals in and around his hometown until one fateful day when he met chart-topping songwriter Jason Sellers while passing through Nashville.
Now he’s the flagship artist on Quartz Hill Records, helmed by industry veteran Benny Brown alongside Sellers and Paul Brown.
“A year and a half ago, I was living up in Michigan working in a nuclear power plant and blueberry farms on the side, playing and gigging anywhere I could. I took a vacation to Gatlinburg around that time. On my way to Gatlinburg, I stopped at Nashville to meet a buddy for the first time,” Barnes recalled to MusicRow in a recent artist visit. The songwriter he met was Rob Hatch, he had been referred to him by a buddy at the power plant.
“It was an amazing thing to be able to sit there and meet him. Jason Sellers comes walking in the door, randomly. He didn’t know I was going to be there, and I didn’t know he was going to be there. Me and Jason just hit it off. I played him a few songs and he said, ‘Nate, I’ve got a guy you need to meet.’ And that guy was Benny Brown.”
Barnes went to meet Benny and Paul, they signed him on the spot.
“I had a week and a half to make a decision and get all my affairs in order to leave everything, with the power plant. I had to move away from my 12-year-old boy, which was really hard. I had to sell everything I could and pack everything else up with me, my dog and my truck. I moved down here and lived in a hotel room for over a year.”
A year and a half later, Barnes is working in the studio with producers Mickey Jack Cones (Jason Aldean, Thomas Rhett) and Derek George (Dustin Lynch, Randy Houser) on his Quartz Hill Records album debut. He released his debut single, “You Ain’t Pretty,” which earned him a DisCovery Award from MusicRow‘s Robert K. Oermann for its “warmth and sincerity.” The single impacts country radio on Feb. 16.
The brand new artist on the new Quartz Hill label has made a significant entry. The lyric video for “You Ain’t Pretty” has surpassed 400,000 views, and Barnes’ TikTok streams have surpassed 13.7 million at press time.
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