Death scare helped launch emerging singer's career

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- Six years ago, a young, 19-year-old Brantley Gilbert survived being ejected through the back windshield of his truck in an accident that might have been as much an act of divine providence as it was potentially deadly.

Gilbert survived and realized that life offered no guarantees, and it was time to live in the "now".

"That was a turning point in my life," Gilbert, who will perform June 19 at the Albany Civic Center. "I never thought that could happen to me. I always thought it happened to other people. I'd seen it happen to other people."

A native of Jefferson, Ga., Gilbert began writing music as a form of therapy.

"I was mad at the world," he said, "and writing songs was one of the only things that made me feel alive."

Gilbert gradually started putting together enough songs for a debut album release, all the time playing acoustic shows to appreciative crowds.

"We went from these acoustic shows to a bona fide country-rock-soul show that is wide-ass open," Gilbert said. "Even when we play a ballad, it's high energy."

His debut album, "A Modern Day Prodigal Son," featured such hit singles as "G.R.I.T.S." and "Whenever We're Alone."

His sophomore release, "Halfway To Heaven," peaked at No. 2 on the iTunes Country Album chart, and No. 1 on the Billboard Heatseekers Album chart for all genres. It features the single "Kick It in the Streets."

Gilbert's rock-infused music doesn't exactly fit the Nashville style, but that's OK with him.

"Lots of people are trying to put the two (country and rock) together," Gilbert said. "But I don't know if they've accomplished it. We're close ... if somebody wants to rock, I'm right there with them."

Despite his recent success, Gilbert really doesn't consider himself a professional musician.

"I'm as simple as it gets. I'm a biker," he said. "Besides writing and performing, the best thing this business has provided me is the opportunity to help people I love. A couple of weeks ago my mom (Becky) needed some work done on her car, and I was able to do it for her.

"That was the best feeling in the world for me. My mom is my angel without the wings."

But Gilbert has also discovered that stardom comes with a price

"Being on the road all the time is tough," he said, "especially when things start to fall apart back home and I can't be there to do anything about it.

"I have a 3-year-old godson, and every time I get home and every time I go back he looks older and older ..."

Tickets for Gilbert's concert may be purchased at the Civic Center box office or online at ticketmaster.com. Ticketmaster's Albany location is at Publix on Dawson Road.