Star on the rise Holdyn Barder talked to OutLoud about upcoming covers, original music, what’s to come and his journey so far. He released a cover of Luke Combs “She’s Got the Best of Me” in 2018, and it quickly hit #1 spot on ReverbNation’s local country charts in the Lehigh Valley. Last month, he positioned himself in the top three country artists in Philadelphia.
What inspired you to become a musician?
I’ve listened to country music since I was a kid. My father played country music and the whole idea of a country lifestyle was always in my mind. I was born in Houston and raised outside Philadelphia, so growing up country music played an important role. I would always listen to country music and think: “These songs are so powerful.” There is nothing more touching than music you can relate to.
When I was little I went to Toby Keith‘s show, my first country concert, I wore an American flag outfit and a cowboy hat that didn’t fit me. I saw him on stage and uncovered this country music part of me, so I picked up a guitar in eighth grade, started singing, and decided to put them together. If you asked me years ago if I would be a country singer, I would say: “Heck No!” but I am so grateful.
What was the role of music in your upbringing?
My parents both dabbled in music and my grandmother used to sing. Our family always had a musical inclination, but no one acted upon it. My uncle plays in the Philadelphia Quaker String band and we play together every summer at the shore. I’ve always been surrounded by music but, personally, country music spoke to me.
In high school, I played Little Black Submarines by the Black Keys at a concert with a few buddies of mine, that moment inspired me to pursue music. The feeling of being on stage in front of 300-400 people was a huge confidence boost. The idea of reaching out to people in a massive way was the driving factor in pursuing music.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
For me, Luke Bryan has always been my number one role model when it comes to country music. He is a wonderful person and makes amazing music. He makes smart decisions and he’s one of the most influential people in my artistry.
I also look up to Ronnie Milsap, he is revered as one of the grandfathers of country music, he does such an excellent job connecting with his audience, I will be covering his song “Smokey Mountain Rain,” in a couple of months. It’s such a wonderful way to show my appreciation for country music. I’m paying my dues to country music and Nashville tradition.
What are you most proud of so far in your journey?
I am proud of the people who raised me and pushed me to follow my dream. I am also proud of pursuing a musical career while being a college student. Music for me isn’t a chore; it’s a passion of mine. I want to inspire people in this world. In my songs, I express what I think and share it with the rest of the world. Having a voice in music is one of the most important things to me because music is a universal form of communication. Country music is what expresses the soul, the moment, a care-free attitude, it’s not just driving a truck in the mud (I love driving trucks in the mud!) but there is more to country music than that. I love using country music to make people happy.
What are your upcoming plans/what can fans expect next from you?
I am releasing original music along with songs by writers in Nashville around spring or summertime, and we’ll also be releasing an EP. There are a lot of shows and artists showcases coming up too. It will be a very pivotal year; I’ll be learning a lot and finding my place in the industry.
Also, my education is very important to me, I’ve worked so hard my whole life to go to a wonderful school (Lafayette) and I’m grateful for my education. I want to have the tools for whatever I do in life, whether it’d be music or something else. When I finish school, I’ll dive into music full-time. There are so many exciting things in store. If I have God, family, and friends, anything is possible.
Find his music on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube. To keep up with Holdyn Barder visit his website and follow him on social media.
Interview by Anisha Wilson