Country Singer Tyler Hubbard’s Growth Extends Beyond the Florida Georgia Line ap entertainment
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Singer-songwriter Tyler Hubbard was sort of ready to hang up his boots when his duo partner at Florida Georgia Line, Brian Kelley, said he wanted to go it alone.
The two had been together for more than a decade, and whether you were a fan of their brotherly country sound or not, their music (“Cruise”, “Meant To Be”, “Round Here”) set the tone for an entire country -Generation in front of fans. Hubbard, who had scored more than a dozen hits as a songwriter for FGL and other artists like Jason Aldean, thought he would focus on just writing for other artists.
“That’s a really big transition in career, 10 or 12 years, and to say we’re going to switch now,” Hubbard said. “I didn’t expect it at the time.” And it took a minute, you know, it really did. But we were also in the middle of a pandemic. And so I had no choice anyway.”
But the COVID-19 pandemic made him realize his need to perform and record was as strong as ever. Now, a year after launching his solo career, Hubbard returns to fans with two successful solo songs and a debut record.
“I’m grateful that (Brian) had the courage to step into this new space and make that decision that ultimately led me to make the same decision and got me to where I am now,” Hubbard said.
Both Kelley and Hubbard have said that there is no bad blood between them and that FGL is not dissolving but is “taking a break.” Now the two seem determined to explore music they couldn’t do together. Kelley, the Florida-born singer, has been exploring his coastal country music, while Hubbard’s self-titled debut solo album, released in January, gave him an opportunity to reflect on his personal life, his roles as a father and husband, and his faith.
But Hubbard concedes that there is always skepticism when an artist makes a solo appearance after unprecedented success in a group or band. The Georgia-born singer took that as a challenge.
“Some people told me it wasn’t feasible and that I should definitely go ahead with FGL,” Hubbard said. “And it kind of lit a spark in me, a fire.”
Hubbard’s two successful singles, the platinum-selling “5 Foot 9” about his wife and “Dancin’ in the Country,” co-written with Keith Urban, show that fans haven’t forgotten Hubbard or that he may have changed minds by people who never considered themselves FGL fans.
Producer and songwriter Jordan Schmidt was the first to be signed to Hubbard and Kelley’s publisher Tree Vibez, and he recalls being instilled in him by a strong work ethic. The duo would take their writers on the bus during their tour and would spend time writing and composing songs before or after the shows.
So Schmidt was a perfect fit to co-produce and co-write Hubbard’s solo album.
“Of course it will be different, he’s in charge,” said Schmidt. “But overall it’s the same mentality and work ethic that he had at FGL in terms of ‘I want to write songs that make a difference.’ He still comes out with songs that sound unique and different, just like “Cruise” did back then.
And he’s doing his bit, just like every newer act. Hubbard opened for his tour for Urban last fall and is attending festivals and fairs this summer, a slightly different vibe than the Florida Georgia Line’s energetic, big pyro arena shows.
“I really enjoyed being able to take it back and be able to do these smaller shows and have really little to no production,” Hubbard said.
And just as Hubbard has grown, so have his fans.
“I hope they can evolve with me because I feel like it was a season,” Hubbard said. “It was a chapter in my life, probably a chapter in the lives of a lot of fans, probably a soundtrack for a lot of memories.”
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