Rising Music Star Gary Pratt On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Music Industry
An Interview With Edward Sylvan
Believe in yourself: “Toot your own horn”. There is no one better than yourself to let the world know who you are. There will always be someone more talented, more attractive, have more funding or connections, etc… You must remember there is not another “YOU”. No one has what you have!
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Gary Pratt.
Gary Pratt is a singer, a songwriter, but most of all, an energetic country entertainer who connects with his audience. Gary is a 2021 International Singer-Songwriter Association Award Winner, a Josie Music Award Nominee and a Hollywood Music Media Nominee.
His last two songs have hit number one on the International Itunes Chart. He grew up in the small, old coal-mining town of Slickville, Pennsylvania. In addition to being the frontman for several local bands in the Pittsburgh area, he has had the experience of hitting the Nashville club and showcase scene. He has had the pleasure of singing at the Tennessee State Fair, Rocky Gap Music Festival and CMA Fest. Gary has been the opening act for such greats as Dwight Yoakum, Pam Tillis, Lorrie Morgan, Ronnie Milsap, Neal McCoy and Crystal Gayle to name a few. His current recording project, “Something Worth Remembering”, is dedicated to his brother who recently passed. The album is a combination of Gary’s originals and songs written by credited Nashville writers. The title track was written by Grammy Award Nominee Tony Arata, who wrote Garth Brooks’ “The Dance”. This project has been in the making for over a year. It was recorded at Tonic Studios with Engineer Doug Kasper, Producer Bryan Cole and Musician/Artist Adam Ernst. Excited about this new album, Gary invited MTS Male Vocalist Matt Westin and Female Vocalist Savannah Nider to help out on a few songs. Savannah and Gary recorded the duet he wrote, “To Find Us”, at Omni Studios in Nashville. It was the first time Gary and Savannah actually met and they are now making plans to write together in the future. Gary is forever thankful to God for walking with him through life, paving this musical journey and putting the gift of music in his heart. Not only has music been an outlet emotionally and has helped Gary through some rough times, but his music has also brought his family together and has introduced him to some of the most amazing people he is proud to call friends.
His latest singles, “A SONG YOU CAN DRINK A BEER TO” and “COUNTRY TO THE BONE” are playing on Nashville (WNHE), LA, New York and Las Vegas radio stations! Google and see the many News Articles and Interviews all over the world!
Gary’s music albums can be purchased at Spotify, Amazon Music, Tidal, Deezer Itunes, Cd Baby, or call 724–834–7499. His very first CD “Gary Pratt” can only be purchased by calling 724–834–7499 (Le Jardin Shop). Check his videos out on Youtube and ask ALEXA to play his music.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in a rural area with plenty of fields and wooded areas around our house. If I wasn’t in my Mom and Dad’s house singing, I was working with my parents finishing the building of our house, riding motorbikes, exploring the woods, swimming in our above-ground pool or playing outside. As a child, I would produce music shows every summer with my brothers, friends and relatives. When our show was ready for the stage, all the parents would host a special dinner buffet and they would all attend. My Dad even built us a big stage one time and purchased my first PA system. As a so-called producer, I made all the kids involved sign contracts. I look back on that and laugh. My parents have always been supportive and would drive me everywhere to sing. I opened up for a few big-named artists when I was about 16 or so. My family would camp at a place called Country Paradise Park. They would have some big-named artists perform there on the weekends and the owners got to know my family well. That opened the door for me to open up some concerts with their House Band.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have always wanted to sing, perform, write and have people hear my music. It has been a passion since I was a child. I would always watch the Country Award Shows and dream of accepting an award. Our house was filled with music including Merle, George, Tammy, Hank, Johnny, Dolly, Waylon, Elvis and so many others. I think a turning point was when I went to a picnic party and my older cousin, Floyd, was playing in the band. I said when I grow up I want to be in a band. I was mesmerized and it’s a moment that still sticks in my mind!
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Yes! Recently I won The US Male Songwriter of the Year with the International Singer Songwriter’s Association. Due to the Pandemic, ISSA had to broadcast a virtual show. I was sitting in the mall watching the Awards on my phone and waiting for an item to be engraved at “Things Remembered”. I have always wanted to walk up on a stage and accept an award and thank those who got me that far. When my name was announced as the winner, I was amazed and I yelled….. YES! I got a few looks and just then a feeling of gratitude, thankfulness and the emotions started with a tear thanking God for this dream come true. He is the true inspiration and what guides me through life. This award finally validates my musical talents. An amazing coincidence is that my Album is titled “Something Worth Remembering”! It’s funny I was waiting for an item to be completed at “Things Remembered”.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Well, I guess I get a little involved in my lyrics and performance. I once fell and knocked over some speakers. I was laying on the floor, however, I never forgot my words. Some people in the crowd didn’t even know what happened. A few people even blamed a person who was trying to help me. I am a little more aware of where the stage ends now….LOL!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am still focusing on promoting the current album, however, I am looking forward to the next project. I have a few new ideas and songs I am working on. The last project was released all at once as an album. I would like this new project to be released a little differently and at a slower rate. I am thinking of dropping a few songs before the album comes out. I would also like to write with a few Nashville writers as well. I already have a title for the new project. I have a direction and a message that I want to say. I really feel that I I have found my purpose in life and in music. It will all be revealed with each project I release.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Today we need more positive programming. There are so many crazy shows out there that give many people awful ideas. We need more positive shows and positive music.
- I believe it starts with the children. If they see diversity on TV and media, they grow up knowing they are valued. Everyone is equal and everyone has the same opportunities. It gives the next generation reasons to dream and reach their goals and be a vital part of humanity. I have already seen this in children and young adults. They do not look at what’s different, but what the person is made of on the inside.
- Diversity starting in the Entertainment Industry is just the beginning. People are now seeing and hearing it. It’s validating what many believe.
- I also feel stereotypes can be broken if we see people portraying positive characters. Humans can be very judgmental. If we break the stereotypes and show what individuals go through in their lives we will become more accepting of our differences.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Never Quit: In Life, you have ups and downs and in music, you will have the same- I basically moved to Nashville after college, I spent a year playing and having showcases around town. I got very discouraged. It was difficult having a job and promoting myself as an Artist. It became exhausting. The open mic gigs and the club showcases do not pay. The benefit is you are being heard. There are so many talented people doing the same thing. I started to doubt myself. I came home and stopped music for another year. I was not happy and very irritable. It was then I decided that music makes me happy. I was not going to give it up something that was the core of my existence. I didn’t care if all I did was sing in the basement. I enjoyed it and God gave me this passion for a reason.
- Get out of your comfort zone: The only way to grow as an individual is to do things that may make you uncomfortable, I am basically an introverted person. I tend to shy away from people. I can also get stage fright and get very nervous before a gig at large venues. I look back and see a few opportunities I missed because of this. I have found that the more I push myself to engage in conversations and the more I put myself out there the more comfortable I have learned to be. I look at it as a challenge now. If something makes me uncomfortable, I go for it! It took me a long time to learn this.
- Be disciplined: I look back and feel that I should have had more self-discipline in learning musical instruments. All I wanted to do was sing and write melodies and lyrics. If I knew a few instruments better than I do, I could be further in my career.
- Learn to take criticism: You will hear plenty of “Nos” in this business and in life. Take the approach to ask the “no sayers” ….why? How can I improve? If someone offers recommendations on a song you wrote you should listen and at least try it. You may be amazed at how a little change can improve your song or performance.
- Believe in yourself: “Toot your own horn”. There is no one better than yourself to let the world know who you are. There will always be someone more talented, more attractive, have more funding or connections, etc… You must remember there is not another “YOU”. No one has what you have!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Sometimes you do need a time out. Take some time away from your norm. Learn new things. Meet new people. I get excited by listening to what people say. I get plenty of song ideas from everyday conversations. Sometimes all it takes is a new song idea to get my creative juices flowing again!
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
You never know what your idea can trigger: There is nothing more important in life than love. Never take those you love for granted. One day someone will not be there sitting at that table, giving a helping hand or experiencing life with you. You must take and make time for those people you love. Let people know your love for them. Don’t be afraid of those 3 words “I Love You”. I believe that there are still a lot of good people in this world. Be good to others and help others in need and those that are struggling. Get out of yourself and give.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I have several people that are important and have helped me in this music career. My parents, family and friends for their support through all of my life mistakes, successes, and crazy ideas. I would not be who I am without any of these important people. Musically, I have to say Tonic Studios. I contacted Tonic about recording at their studio. Doug Kasper (Owner/Engineer) introduced me to Bryan Cole (Producer), Adam Ernst (Musician/Artist), Sherill Blackman (Publisher/Song Plugger) and several other key people on my latest project. Bryan was key in introducing me to Michael Stover of MTS Records/Promotions. Without any of these people and especially without MTS I would not be doing this interview today!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. Abraham Lincoln. A person should not just exist. Life is to be lived. I try to learn from my mistakes. I am aware that sometimes I need to take a step back and evaluate what is important in my life and others. It’s about doing good for others, being remembered for the good you did and the impact you had on others. Most of all it’s about believing in God and not wasting your life. God gave you talents, passions and a life to learn from and to better yourself no matter who you are or where you come from. I am not a perfect person and I have made many bad decisions and mistakes. It took a while to learn from them. I know life and the people around me are more valuable than material things. If a person betters themselves, they can better the lives of others around them.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
Dolly Parton. She has heart. She is who she is and loves life. She uses her influence to help others. She makes the world a better place!
How can our readers follow you online? www.garyprattmusic.com
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!