By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Daily Leader
Joe Denoyer with 102.7 The Legend has been playing Liberal native Jerrod Niemann’s music for the hometown crowd for some time. But when Nashville jumped on board, the whole nation started singing along.
Niemann’s album, “Judge Jerrod and the Hung Jury,” was released on June 13 and debuted No.1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart. The album still remains in the top-five best sellers. The first single off his album, “Lover, Lover,” also reached the No. 1 spot, as well.
Niemann is definitely enjoying his new-found success, however, he never forgets his hometown values and the people right here in Liberal that got him where he is today.
“Cathy Elder was a big influence for me,” Niemann said. “She was never the main music teacher, but she stayed there through all the changes, she was very inspirational. Of course, there was Shelby Marshall, she taught vocal for many years. She taught many of us vocal lessons. So, those two would have to be a major influence. They both made music fun, cool and exciting and fun to be a part of.
“Joe Denoyer has been an enormous supporter,” he continued. “He has played my very first album all the way to current stuff. You can’t ask for a better hometown when it comes to support. It was a cool place to grow up.”
Niemann has been paying his dues, so to speak, for some time. He understands the process, however, he admits that it has been frustrating at times throughout the years.
“If you are going to college to be a doctor, you graduate, you pass everything you are supposed to, then you are a doctor,” he said. “In the entertainment industry, it can be frustrating at times because you don’t know if it will ever pay off or to what extent.
“But when it finally does, you realize a few things,” he explained. “First, it means a lot more because you know what you have gone through to get it. But, also there have been times you get thrown into a situation that you weren’t expecting that is kind of overwhelming. The experience you have in the past is what keeps you swimming and not sinking. I have been very thankful for experience recently in certain situations.”
Niemann has tried to stay down to earth through the entire process. He believes, as a general rule, when people see hard work, they appreciate the success it eventually brings.
“I think whenever people see you working hard on something that you have loved your whole life, they like that,” he said. “I have tried my best not to burn bridges and not be mean or rude. I think when people see you do well, they like that. As a human being, if I see that I have the same emotion.”
When he is writing or mapping out a specific performance, Niemann depends on childhood memories to help him make sound decisions.
“I know that a lot of times that when I am making musical decisions, because our album is very out of the box and unconventional, there is always that line that you cross where it won’t work and people just won’t connect – no one really knows where that line is,” he said. “So, all that I can do is close my eyes and picture myself growing up in Liberal and ask, ‘Would I have liked this as a kid.’ So I just try to put myself in my own shoes as a kid when I make musical decisions.”
Niemann and his band have been together through all of the highs and lows. He is thankful they haven chosen to ride it all out with him.
“We have been together, some of us for four or five years,” he said. “They have hung in there with me through thick and thin. We have known each other for so long, we kept each other going in the right direction. The band, over the years, has been supportive and loyal. I am glad they have stuck it out.”
Niemann was known in Nashville for his writing abilities long before he found success as a singer. However, with his new found success, he may not be so quick to write for other artists these days.
“Lee Brice and I wrote a song together that Blake Shelton recorded,” he said. “But, I have really kind of put the brakes on giving songs away now that I have an outlet for my music. The cool thing is that when you have a hit song and you are in the game, so to speak, you get to make some creative decisions, and they trust you a little more. I have been challenging myself to write more unique and real music. I have been working really hard on that.”
Jerrod Niemann is enjoying his success in Nashville. He will soon be going on tour with Gary Allen. As he travels all across the United States, he is very aware that there is no place like home.