Dakota BradleyCountry newcomer Dakota Bradley may have the perfect pedigree for Nashville success--he's just 18 years old and already has an insanely catchy debut single co-produced by none less than Tim McGraw--but this is one musician who learned his chops in a totally different genre.
"When I was 12, I picked up my first guitar," Bradley explains. The first song he learned how to play? "Stranglehold, by Ted Nugent."
Bradley's breakout single "Somethin' Like Somethin'" doesn't sound a whole lot like the Motor City Madman. In fact, the summery, upbeat tune sounds like something McGraw himself might record. But just so you know where this kid's roots lie…!
From his initial foray into guitar, Bradley learned how to play drums, piano, and bass--and practiced it all in a rock band with his friends, where they slammed out covers of Guns N' Roses, Motley Crue, Aerosmith, and the Black Crowes. "I’m wearing an AC/DC T-shirt right now," he laughs. (Astute observers may notice he's also wearing a Led Zep shirt in the above photo.)
Rock wasn't the only music that moved him, though, of course. Bradley also educated himself in the realms of blues and country, citing Keith Urban's guitar licks as an early influence.
At around age 15, a home fire forced him and his mother to move out of his native St. Louis, and they decided on Music City for a "fresh start." While in Nashville, Bradley began posting videos to his YouTube channel, one of which attracted the attention of famed talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres, who invited the (at this point unsigned and unknown) artist to perform on her show a mere two days later.
"I couldn't believe it when I got the email," Bradley admits.
From there, Bradley was off and running, managing to score McGraw as a producer on his album--which is anticipated to be be out this summer. Bradley admits he was initially intimidated to work with such a huge star; however, "He's such a nice guy," he relates. "I was really nervous when he walked in the room, and he was all smiles and laughter."
Bradley, who is joining a rapidly growing pack of talented and very young artists, is outspoken about his support for fellow musicians such as Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift. "I'm definitely a Taylor supporter," he says--and as for Bieber? "That kid came from nowhere. And now he's a star. Can't hate on him--he's doing something."
Sounds a lot like Bradley, who is definitely doing more than just somethin' (pardon pun) at a very early age. The homeschooled teen admits to a total focus on music (college plans are on hold right now), and gives the following advice to other young hopefuls: "Just practice and work hard and write from your heart, keep going. A lot of people told me no. "
He also recommends keeping an open mind. When asked where he wants to be in five years, Bradley simply says, "Having fun. I don't really know where I'm gonna be!"