NEVER sacrifice your own happiness to be what someone else says you need to be. For years I pretended to be someone I wasn’t. I played a role and acted in a way that the industry told me I had to if I wanted to be in this business. I was getting to do what I loved but I was miserable. How could I be living my dream and be so unhappy?!? It’s because I was not living my true authentic self. Now, I am and still get to do what I love to do.
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Curtis Braly.
Curtis Braly was born into a family that shared a mutual passion for music — no matter the genre, no matter the locale. From the church pew to the front porch and the backseat of the family SUV, Curtis embraces the hymns, rhythms and tunes that surrounded him. Spun from the fabric of a small Texas town, noteworthy by name alone, Humble is a distinguishingly small suburb where neighbors were friends and the community shared a common thread in its respect for, and a kinship with, the citizens and men and women of service. It’s the small town’s character and Lone Star State pride that built Curtis Braly. Now, the music powerhouse and Texas native has performed and toured with artists including Daryl Singletary, Johnny Rodriguez, Tanya Tucker and country icon Dolly Parton. Braly’s third record, ‘You Matter’ was recorded with Kent Wells, music producer and director for Dolly Parton. Following his latest release, “Something Wrong” in 2020, Curtis is currently working on new music along with other exciting projects in the works.https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/5b9e1c21c49e90767a41330340884fea
Thank you so much for joining us in this series! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit of the ‘backstory’ of how you grew up?
I grew up in a small suburban town of Houston, TX called Humble; a town full of country music lovers. A southern baptist family who rarely missed a Wednesday or Sunday church service. We didn’t go without food by any means but my parents lived paycheck to paycheck, and eating out for dinner was a true luxury that happened about once per month. That meant we spent a lot of family time together at home. I think that’s why I grew up appreciating family so much.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I was bullied severely from elementary all the way through high school which made me very insecure and suffer from a low self-esteem. However, in 8th grade, my junior high drama teacher recognized that I had this hidden talent to sing and encouraged me to perform in the school talent show. After lots of encouragement, I agreed. I was mortified to get up in front of all my school peers and sing. The same people who made fun of me on a daily basis. It was a very vulnerable moment for me. I vividly remember finishing my performance and seeing all of my peers cheer and give me a standing ovation. I took home the 1st place trophy that night. It was the first time in my life that I felt accepted and celebrated by kids my age. It was that moment I realized that my gift to connect with other people was through music. I knew right then that being a performer was the career path for me, and I’ve never looked back.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
It starts with my husband, Jeff, saying “I Got This”. It’s my second week on the road with Tanya Tucker. I was doing my first national tour on the road with her as the opening act. We arrived at the venue about 9am in Alto, New Mexico. The bus driver left for his hotel room to get some sleep. He asked Jeff to take the bus into town and refuel it while he was sleeping. So, we headed out about the time it started pouring rain. As we drove down this small two lane road, he realized that the only gas stations left in this town were behind him, which meant he had to turn this 45 foot bus around along with a 12 foot trailer being towed behind it. As we were about to make our final turn to get us back to the highway, we realized that we had to make a 90 degree left turn up a steep hill on a very narrow road. As he sat at the stop sign contemplating his next move, I walked up to him and said, “Jeff, I don’t think you can make this turn”. He looked at me with all the confidence in the world and said “I GOT THIS!” So, he began to make the turn. Within a few seconds, our back tires were cutting into the yard of the corner neighbor, and before we knew it the tire had dug itself down into the mud. We were stuck! Remember, it’s pouring rain. We are now stuck half way through the turn pointed up a steep hill. As he continued to try and accelerate his way out of the hole, the bus finally slipped loose but in the wrong direction. We began to slide backwards down the hill until the rear of the bus was stopped by a now jackknifed trailer that was being towed behind us, leaving a huge dent in the bus and a smashed in trailer. Before it was said and done, we had multiple police cruisers there and the help of 4 marines who played good samaritan by removing the trailer and towing it behind their own truck. If the community didn’t know who I was and that I was in town to perform before, they all knew who I was after this big ordeal. We made it back minutes before my soundcheck thanks to the police escort that safely brought us in.
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?
During my high school days, I would travel to the local country music jamborees on Friday and Saturday nights to perform for the communities and hone my skill of performing with a LIVE band. One night, I was in a rush to use the restroom and get back to the stage because I was up next. I ran to the restroom and got back within seconds of being called on stage. Went on, sang my song and realized that the audience was smiling and giggling all the way through my serious ballad, which seemed very odd. It wasn’t until after I finished the song that I realized my zipper was down, and part of my tucked in shirt was poking out of my pants. I guarantee you to this day that there isn’t a night that I don’t check my zipper before walking on stage.
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?
One of the biggest things someone can do to help you is believe in you. I met a lady at one of the jamborees I played at in highschool named Carol. I can honestly say she was my first legit fan. She was a huge supporter and encourager. She even paid for me to go to Nashville one summer, do some studio work and send me to my first CMA Awards show. She always told me that I was going to be a big star and she wanted to be the first person to escort me to an awards show. Her belief in me meant so much and motivated me more than you can imagine. I still think about her when I’m feeling defeated, and it helps to put the air back in my sails.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m releasing new music very soon that I can’t wait for the world to hear. Also, I was recently commissioned to write music for a horror film called “Slapface”. As part of that gig, I was also cast in the film to play a small role and actually given speaking lines. It is something that really challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone and add something new to my resume. The movie is set to release this Fall and I’m so excited to not only hear my music play during the ending credits but also see my face on the BIG screen. Stay tuned for more!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- It takes more than talented singing. I never realized until coming to Nashville just how many thousands of people can sing just as good as me if not better. It takes so much work, dedication & desire to always learn new things.
- Take voice lessons or find a vocal coach. I never had any professional vocal lessons until a couple of years ago. I realized after going on a national tour and singing night after night that I was singing wrong because I was losing my voice. I’ve learned so much in a short amount of time and could have been much more advanced had I started that early on.
- NEVER sacrifice your own happiness to be what someone else says you need to be. For years I pretended to be someone I wasn’t. I played a role and acted in a way that the industry told me I had to if I wanted to be in this business. I was getting to do what I loved but I was miserable. How could I be living my dream and be so unhappy?!? It’s because I was not living my true authentic self. Now, I am and still get to do what I love to do.
- Nothing happens overnight. So, be patient. Even the stars that look like they came to fame overnight DID NOT. They also worked hard for years to achieve their success. So slow and steady DOES win the race. Stay determined and consistent. Never give up!
- People will use you and abuse you in this business. I learned pretty fast that there are a lot of people in the entertainment industry that will tell you anything they think you want to hear just to earn a buck of your hard earned money but then do nothing for you. So, I’ve learned to really trust my gut instinct and if the voice in my head tells me someone is not good for me… RUN. The few times that I didn’t listen to that voice, it came back to bite me.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Take time away to focus on something other than your music. That doesn’t mean disappearing for weeks or months at a time, but take a few days here and there to spend time with your friends or family to do things outside of pursuing your career.
Don’t compare yourself to others! There will always be someone a step ahead of you and getting a little more spotlight than you. That’s ok, because it’s their time. Your time will come when it’s right. Focus on you and your goals. Constantly comparing yourself to where others are at on their journey will exhaust you.
Again, slow and steady wins the race. I once asked Dolly Parton if she had any advice for me. She said, “Honey, you just gotta outlast everyone else. So, don’t give up!”
If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
If I could figure out how to convince everyone to love and respect each other, the world would be a much better place for each of us. If we would just show love, respect and compassion for one another, regardless of their beliefs, race, who they love, etc… there wouldn’t be such division between us. Love conquers all things.
What is your favorite “life lesson” or quote? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
A quote that I have taken with me through my life is “A poor man is not a man without a cent, but a man without a dream”. I learned long ago that it didn’t matter how much money I made or if I had a nice car or the biggest house in the neighborhood. It all boiled down to whether or not I had a dream that I was living and fulfilling. That’s where my true happiness comes from.
If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
Reba McEntire — I’ve watched her since a young kid and admired everything about her and her accomplishments. I can’t imagine how much knowledge she has gained throughout her career. I’d love to pick her brain and let her mentor me.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can visit me online at www.CurtisBraly.com. From there you can access all my social platforms and even text me. I love connecting with everyone.