Trent Harmon was catapulted into the spotlight after auditioning and winning the final season of American Idol on Fox. His charm, incredible skill to connect to songs, and ability to be a true storyteller are what gave him an edge over other finalists. Now, two years later he has honed his songwriting craft and with the guidance of a major label, Big Machine, has released his debut album, You Got ‘Em All.
Looking back at his childhood, Harmon tells New York Country Swag about growing up in rural Mississippi. “I wanted to be an artist, I wanted to do music, quite honestly, it’s a cliche story, but nobody from my neck of the woods really makes it out of that neck of the woods,” he says. “I was twelve when I bought my first guitar at a pawn shop. It took me several years before I could play it. Then, I started writing songs, too”
Harmon’s parents owned a small steakhouse near their home and growing up working there was a part of everyday life. When he realized his talents were better served entertaining the customers rather than cleaning up after them, he started singing and taking requests. “I didn’t realize it then, but I was getting my chops as a performer, those were my first gigs. I quit waiting and cleaning tables, I started playing songs and played for a crowd,” he recalls. Almost all of the songs that were requested were from the country music genre, but Harmon wasn’t only a fan of country music, he listened to southern rock and was a huge fan of Elvis Presley.
After playing gigs in Memphis, Nashville and Little Rock, he had all but exhausted his options during a six or seven year period. Running out of money, he decided to take a chance and audition for American Idol. During the toughest week of the contestants journey, Hollywood Week, Harmon suffered through mono to impress the judges and went on to win the entire competition.
He explains that although the industry sometimes regards the winners of national singing competitions as making it easy, he explained that he had to fight through those ceilings to get where he is now. “Idol showcased one of the main reasons I started doing this, I do consider it a job, it’s how I pay my bills, I take it very seriously,” he tells us. “There might be a weird stigma that you do win Idol and ‘Are they really a musician or are they a reality TV person.’ He took time off after his big win to really focus on writing music, writing a song a day for two years and deciding what he wanted to say with his music.
The title track from his debut album was written in less than an hour, Harmon tells us. After calling his girlfriend and giving her the great news that his label was ready to release his first single to radio, she gave him the news that she would be moving to Thailand to follow her dream of teaching. After that devastating phone call, he sat down in a co-write with Justin Ebach and Jordan Minton. He almost canceled that day but decided to keep the session, and luckily poured out his heart into one of his most personal songs yet. “It was a good day to not cancel,” he laughs, “Let that be the title of your piece.”
Back in February, New York Country Swag caught Harmon when he performed at the Big Machine Luncheon during Country Radio Seminar where he performed “You Got ‘Em All” for radio executives and people who work in the music industry. “I had one job that day and that was to solidify myself a slot for the next year as a relevant up-and-coming artist in the country format,” he recalls. He did just that, singing the next single from his forthcoming album and the full room of people, who are not easily impressed, stood up and cheered when he finished. “When they stood up and I got the standing ovation and everyone clapped, that was one of those moments, that was arguably as big for me as winning the show that night, it was a different kind of win. It’s validation that you are doing something right. It was the right song, the right time, and the right people to hear it at that moment.” He tells us, “It was like all of the stars aligned.”
Focusing his energy and songwriting into his debut album, Harmon explains that you never know as an artist if you will get a chance to put out a second album, so he wanted to fill the first full-length with songs and stories dedicated to the people who have helped him get where he is today. “I made a list of the people who were instrumental in getting me to this point and I tried to write a song to each of those people and if it was good enough it made the album,” Harmon tells us. It is a compilation of gratitude to his family, friends, and fans who have lifted him to this point in his career.
Heading out on tour this summer with Rascal Flatts and Dan + Shay, Harmon is looking forward to seeing a bunch of his fans who are nicknamed “The Harmonies” as well as making new fans. For his full tour schedule head to www.trentharmon.com and be sure to continue to follow his journey on social media Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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