Raw talent is essential for an artist to develop a successful career, but a strong sense of identity is just as crucial. Adam Sanders possesses both. In a day and time where budding entertainers can be shaken by numerous factors from social media critics to music industry gatekeepers, it takes a special caliber of person to know what’s truly important to them and, even more difficult, to hold fast to those values. Sanders knows who he is and his music reflects that. The proof is in the listening on his compelling new EP.
Faith, Family, Music, the Outdoors and Fitness are the pillars his life revolves around and Sanders has discovered those are priorities for many of the folks he’s singing too as well. “I’ve grown a lot in the past year and I thought, ‘Who am I, really?’ I always thought of myself as an everyday guy, but different than the guy on stage,” he says of reconciling his public and private personas. “I’ve learned over the last year that that guy off stage needs to be the same guy on stage so it’s real. I want to be relatable and I want to be me in every area of my life. Fans can see when it’s not real, and I’m happier and more successful when I am not pretending to be something I’m not.”
A native of Lake City, FL, Sanders knew at an early age that music would be his life. “My mom likes to say I could sing before I could talk,” says the avid outdoorsman and fitness fanatic. “I’ve got tons of pictures of me dressed up in a cowboy hat, boots and jeans because I idolized Alan Jackson very early on and envisioned him as my hero.”
Most of Sanders’ family had musical talent, especially his uncle Scotty Sanders, a professional steel guitar player, who encouraged his nephew’s dream. After honing his skills performing around northern Florida, Sanders moved to Nashville in 2009. He worked construction to pay the bills while developing his chops as a songwriter. His skills caught the attention of executives at Big Yellow Dog who signed him to a publishing deal.
Sanders first found success in Nashville as a songwriter, penning songs for Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley and Tyler Farr, among others. One of Music Row’s hottest young songwriters, Sanders has topped the charts with such #1 singles as Cole Swindell’s “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey” and Dustin Lynch’s “Hell of a Night.” He honed his craft hanging out with pals like Swindell, Farr, Jon Pardi, Chase Rice and Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, and became like a younger brother to a group of hit-bound young talents on the cusp of success.
Sanders learned how to craft a song that was right in the pocket for country radio. He then embarked on his artist career, quickly earning a reputation as an up and comer to watch as he independently sold over 70,000 singles and scored over 30 million Spotify streams. Yet Sanders admits his early efforts weren’t truly synonymous with who he really is as a person. “I started feeling like a puppet just trying to chase what labels thought I needed to sound like and so I finally just stepped back,” he says. “I’ve found what I’m not and I know what I am. For a while, I tried to run from being country and there’s no way you can take that away from me because it’s the way I grew up. And I never took a guitar lesson. I never took vocal lessons. Everything that I’ve done at this point is through just hard work and dedication.”
Self-examination led to Sanders focusing on what is truly important to him and what he wants to say to his growing audience. The result is his new EP and the life-affirming songs that are his personal country music manifesto. The lead single, “Thankful For,” is quintessential Adam Sanders. It’s an upbeat ode to all the blessings he’s grateful to enjoy. Ironically, he was in a difficult place when he wrote it. “I was going through a breakup and things in my life were shifting,” he says. “I didn’t realize how much I was going to need that song or how much it was really going to become ME until last year. I’m growing in my faith and a lot of things are really just taking shape in my life. Now when I sing it, I believe every word of it and it truly describes me.”
Another song that is close to his heart is “Alan Jackson.” It’s an upbeat number that not only honors his hero, but tells the humorous story of a guy trying to win his girlfriend back utilizing Jackson’s music, and winsomely observing that “If Alan can’t get her back, then I guess she’s gone.”
The EP is filled with songs that are vividly brought to life through Sanders’ smooth, evocative voice and his searing visual lyrics. A prime example is “Burning Roses,” a heartbreak ballad about a guy who turns a truck load of flowers into crimson ash as he dips each stem in kerosene and sets fire to half a week’s pay along with his hopes and dreams. Co-written with Josh Kear, other artists have tried to record it, but Sanders held onto it for his project, and after hearing his aching vocals, it’s hard to imagine anyone else doing the song justice.
“Prayed for Me” is a tune that perfectly illuminates where Adam Sanders is both personally and musically. It’s solid country with a positive message—the very definition of this young man and his artistry. “Every day it applies more and more to my life,” he smiles. “I grew up in church my whole life and that applies to me because I do know that there’s a lot of people that’s prayed for me and my music and for a long time.”
Through faith, hard work and God-given talent, Adam Sanders is seeing those prayers answered these days. “I was able to tear everything in my life back to the foundation and built brick by brick back right this time, and now I’m starting to see the wheels turn again in my career,” he says. “I know without a doubt that music is what I’ve been born to do and I want to impact people in a positive way.”