Eric Ethridge wanted the perfect song for his latest video.
“I wanted it to be something special — and a little bit different than anything I’ve done,” said the 27-year-old rising country music star from Sarnia.
“I stumbled across this video by Charles Kelley (of Lady Antebellum fame), and the song was stuck in my head for two weeks. I showed it to a couple of bandmates and they said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’”
The tune, “Leaving Nashville,” also just happened to be written by fellow Sarnia native Donovan Woods.
“I had heard of Donovan and his work, and his name keeps coming up,” Ethridge said of the singer-songwriter whose songs have been recorded by Tim McGraw and a slew of Canadian artists. “In my opinion, he’s on track to be one of the biggest writers in Nashville.
“So it’s really cool that this song was written by someone from my hometown.”
Ethridge’s cover of Leaving Nashville was officially released on YouTube last week, and he’s already getting buzz from fans and music industry professionals alike.
“They seem to be really impressed with my voice on it — it shows a lot more emotion and range than some of my other songs,” said Ethridge, a St. Patrick’s High School and Western University grad who’s also a working chiropractor at two local clinics.
“It’s been nothing but good feedback.”
The accolades keep coming for Ethridge, who was just named one of six finalists for the Canadian Country Music Association’s (CCMA) Discovery Program, a national initiative developed to educate and support artists in their pursuit of the country music industry.
“It’s sort of like a boot camp — with industry professionals, voice coaches, etc.,” Ethridge said of the intensive week in Toronto in May. Finalists are paired with established Canadian country artists for mentorship, and will perform at the CCMA Discovery Showcase.
“So, it will be an awesome opportunity; a great thing to put on the resume.”
Meanwhile, he’s slated to travel to Nashville to do more songwriting next month, then he’ll fly to Vancouver to finish recording.
“We’ve got some songs together, so we’ll finish recording, and from there, present them to record labels. And if that goes well, things may take off from there.
“It’s a really exciting time, and a really nerve-wracking time,” he added.
Locally, Ethridge and his bandmates — who include Jacob Burton on drums, Dan Ainsworth on bass, fiddle player Matt Piche, Scott Wilkinson on keys, Marty Oblak on banjo and lead guitarist (and big brother) Mike Ethridge — will hit the stage May 6 for the Do it for Sarnia Block Party, a fundraising event launched by Ethridge’s friend Dan Edwards, which aims to raise $150,000 for Bluewater Health’s Mental Health department.
They’ll also perform at Sarnia Ribfest in June, and Corunna’s Captain Kidd Days in July.
“This is the phase of music where it requires more investment than return, usually,” said Ethridge, acknowledging the hectic schedule. “The return comes later — hopefully.”