When Lee Brice sits down with his guitar in the Ram Country studios and belts out a flawless rendition of the Eli Young Band's hit "Crazy Girl"--one might think, gee, this song sounds like he was made to sing it.
The truth of the matter? The song was made for him...or, by him, to be more exact. Brice, who started out his path to stardom as a Nashville songwriter, is the original composer of the tune--one of many he's penned that have ended up being hits for other artists such as Garth Brooks and Tim McGraw.
"I love this song," Brice explains. "I wrote it 8 or 9 years ago, and I felt a connection with it. It was a song about my girlfriend at the time, and her insecurities. And it was just 'chill out, we're good'--you know. I actually would have loved it for myself, but it just didn't work out."
There's no hard feelings on Brice's part that his song is now associated with the EYB. Quite the contrary: "It became their biggest success to date," he notes. "I'm just proud to be a part of it."
This attitude goes along with Brice's overall easygoing personality. It's not too surprising that he has such a cheerful disposition; as he says himself, "I've always considered myself a really blessed, lucky dude."
The South Carolina native has led something of a charmed life, having scored notable achievements in two fields just about every kid dreams of: sports and music. Originally hoping for a football career, Brice won a scholarship to Clemson University to play for the Tigers. An injury senior year unfortunately put a brake on that dream, but Brice simply decided to swap over to his other passion. "[Playing for Clemson] was my ultimate goal, really, as far as football went," he explained. "The rest was music. I was like, well now this is kinda done, and I just took off and went to Nashville."
From there, he quickly established himself as a working songwriter--"the best job in the world," he asserts. But, "I wasn't writing to be a songwriter, I was writing to be a singer. I went to Nashville to be a singer." He nailed this goal with the release of several singles leading up to debut album Love Like Crazy (titled for his hit of the same name--which, incidentally broke a record for the longest run in the history of the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts) in 2010, Now, he's set to release his follow-up sometime this spring, which will include new single "A Woman Like You."
Whether folks identify Brice mainly as a songwriter or an artist--he's enjoying both angles of his craft thoroughly. "I have been able to see both sides," he says. "As an artist, I've had hits on the radio that I wrote, and didn't write--like "Love Like Crazy" and "She Ain't Right." But there is something extra special about being able to sing a song that you wrote."
"I believe "She Ain't Right," and I believe "Love Like Crazy" when I sing them--I really do. But there's a little difference between singing something like that, and something that literally came straight from your heart."
It's clear this is the truth just from observing Brice perform "Crazy Girl." Brice nods. "When I do 'More Than A Memory' in concert"--the hit he co-wrote for Garth Brooks in 2007--"I really forget that Garth did it."
"It's such a song that's my song, to me--and really, I feel the same way about 'Crazy Girl.' It's me the artist, singing my song."
At the end of the day, fans can appreciate anything Brice has created musically due to his genuine feeling for the songs he's written. "It's like my baby. Like my child--I created it," he adds.
"It's a little bit like letting [another artist] hold your kid. It's awesome, and I hope you have a good time, but at the end of the day it still came from me."