For Droptine Records artist Cody Hibbard, finding success in the music industry is a different kind of hard work than he’s used to.
After farming on his family’s ranch in Oklahoma for his whole childhood, Hibbard was recruited to the US Naval Academy out of high school. He picked up guitar after sustaining a shoulder injury that cut his time at the Academy short.
Hibbard briefly attended an undergraduate pharmacy program, then headed to the oil pipeline for a lucrative summer job. That summer stint turned into a full time position for the next nine years. He carried his pawn shop guitar, three songs and deep Southern drawl from campfire to campfire as he played to friends and co-workers.
“I only knew three songs. I’d play those three songs every time that we’d all get drunk and just make up lyrics,” remembers Hibbard in a recent visit with MusicRow. When out on a job in Texas, Hibbard’s three song set grew into a side gig of playing restaurants on the weekends, and led to his first release “Half Whiskey, Half Lonely.”
Soon after, as the world slowed down in 2020, he began writing his own songs and his music career began to take off. He released his first EP Memory and a Dirt Road, that year and continued to play gigs around Texas.
In March 2021, Hibbard left his job on the oil pipeline, trading the ditches and heat for co-writes and industry meetings. His drive for hard work stuck with him as he stepped on to Nashville’s Music Row.
“These label meetings we take, everywhere we go, they always ask, ‘Do y’all have any questions?’ The only question I always ask back is, ‘Do y’all know how to work?’ Because that’s all I want to do. I want to stay busy, write musicand perform.
“This job is not a job to me after coming from where I came from,” explains Hibbard. “This is a beautiful lifestyle. Does it get stressful? Of course—it’s running your own business at the end of the day.”
While country through and through, Hibbard’s music tackles a wide variety of subjects and pulls from his experiences, and from influences of classic rock, Christian and gospel, and early 2000s country hits.
“I mean look at me—I’m an Asian guy with a redneck accent,” Hibbard says. “There’s nothing wrong with being different. I am country to the core but there’s nothing wrong with being here or there or anywhere else.”
Industry veteran Jim Catino saw the value in Hibbard’s unique perspective and drive, and reached out. Hibbard soon signed a publishing deal with Droptine and Sony Music Publishing, and has since released tunes such as “Looking Back Now,” “We Speak Country,” “Beer Problem” and more.
His latest release, “Bend,” is Hibbard’s ode and honor to military families. It was influenced by his non-profit work with veterans who, inspired by his vulnerability, often share deep stories and emotions with him. He compares the strong, unyielding love between spouses to the strength of the willow trees in his home state of Oklahoma.
Hibbard explains, “I just kept thinking about all the songs you hear about the willows. It reminded me of those couples—how the wind can just pound that tree left and right but it never does break. Basically it’s saying, ‘You can throw whatever at me, I’ll just keep bending, and we’ll see what happens in the end.’”
Hibbard wants to take that vulnerable songwriting and spin it with some rock influences from his favorite bands, such as Avenged Sevenfold. His upcoming track, “House That He Built,” highlights those stylings.
All of Hibbard’s vulnerability is part of his hard work, bringing value to the fans. “I don’t get on stage and make myself vulnerable because I enjoy the spotlight,” Hibbard says. “I’m a guy who could live in the woods all year round if I needed to, but to hear people say, ‘Your songs got me through some heartbreak or some loss,’ means everything to me.”
- Dolly Parton Announces ‘Rockstar’ Partnerships With ESPN & UT Vols - September 28, 2023
- ‘People’s Choice Country Awards’ Announces Presenters - September 28, 2023
- Country Music Gets A New Awards Show: A Look At The ‘People’s Choice Country Awards’ - September 27, 2023