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Prosper's own, singer/songwriter Tanner Usrey's train is leaving the station

(and he's taking Texas Red Dirt, and some Grass Roots with him)

Four years ago I had the opportunity to sit down with a kid from Prosper, Texas. He was fresh out of High School and adamant about the fact that he was going places. Where? Like many of us, at that age, he wasn’t certain. Despite that fact, I noticed the twinkle in his eye before I saw his talent, and in that twinkle there was courage, intention and determination. It’s the kind of will that a person only recognizes from having it within themselves. Tanner Usrey is every kid that ever played music in his parents living room and dreamed of a responsive crowd that included more than his friends, parents and grandparents. Like any baby of the family, he sought attention early on. He was always the rambunctious, clown of the family, a natural entertainer running around, singing everything from Alan Jackson to Eminem to Cross Canadian Ragweed songs in his home and was often told to sit down and shut up” which brings a smile and laugh to his jovial face when he recalls it. Playing music has never not been an option to him and his decision to do so full time came in a moment of surrender in what was an 8-5 office job. Usrey tells of his palms sweating and his nerves surrendering to panic being inside at a desk for hours on end and the foreign feeling of being trapped in a position that was the absolute farthest from him being his authentic self. It was at that very moment when he said to himself,”if you don’t love me now, you won’t ever love me again.” He pushed himself away from the desk and walked out to the beat of a song with the same lyrics. He was adamant that he would either succeed or fall on his face with pride in his heart having been true to himself and his destiny. He never looked back. SInce that decision, Usrey says that the journey hasn’t been an easy one, having played gigs with few listeners, paying his dues without missing a step in the process of becoming who he is. He says that despite it all, its been worth every second and I’m certain that’s true considering that in a van with his band whose members he calls brothers he’s played in 25 states since August of 2021. Shows that were once crowds of only a few have become wild, sold out crowds in his favorite venues, like Cain’s Ballroom of Tulsa, Oklahoma, The Tumbleweed in Stillwater, and Hanks in McKinney, Texas. He has made his mark on the Red Dirt- Grass Roots movement of Texas music and despite being young and having his own soulful sound, he not only sings with the heart of old school country crooners, he writes his own songs that resurrect an authentic, backwoods country vibe that has been missing from country music for some time. HIs voice is like an old friend reminding one generation of its history while totally introducing the style to another, less familiar with the honkytonk generation. His success is a product of understanding the nostalgia his style brings back to loyal country fans and yet doesn’t fall short of bringing other, newer country fans onboard as well. When asked about his fan base, he’s grateful. As we sit at The Gin, in Prosper, Texas he looks up several times to say hello to familiar faces that he’s known since growing up in the area. The beauty in Tanner’s success is that he hasn’t sacrificed his authenticity like Hollywood made musicians. He is still the same kid I met with when he was just starting out and he is hell bent on staying true to himself and his music and “anyone that isn’t onboard with that can get off the train, he says.” That’s a lesson that only someone that owns who they are and has learned to appreciate their own talent despite what others have contributed from an opinion standpoint. Tanner’s approach has proven successful as his talents have now reached a different level of recognition. He tells the story of how as an insomniac he was up playing video games one early morning when he got an e-mail from Andrea von Foester asking if he’d be interested in having his song “The Light” in an episode of Season Four of what would be and has become the ever popular drama series Yellowstone, written and produced by Texas’ own Taylor Sheridan. That’s right, Tanner Usrey’s music can now be found on the Yellowstone Soundtrack alongside the company of other talents from the South including Whiskey Myers from Palestine, TX, Ryan Bingham, Tyler Sturgess and Jason Isbell. If you’re into the current country music scene, or any aspect of the entertainment industry you know that’s not a bad list to be on. When asked what his favorite song to play is, he doesn’t mention one of the songs that he’s written although there isn’t a more rewarding feeling to an artist when fans respond to your craft. He thinks of the crowd and how excited they get at the beat of “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac and if you know the lyrics you’ll smile when you figure out why. There’s not a soul out there telling Tanner Usrey to sit down and shut up, these days. Only, stand up and sing, and if you don’t love him now you may never. He’s okay with that and hIs train of fans is leaving town regardless