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David Nail in Tennessean
David Nail Hits Success with new “Red Light”
By Cindy Watts
David Nail could be the poster boy for second chances. The country singer, who recently scored his first Billboard Top 10 country song with “Red Light”, moved to Nashville twice before he worked up the nerve to stay. He’s currently on his second record deal with Universal Music Group, and “Red Light” was the second single off his debut album I’m About To Come Alive. “The (record label executives) just kept saying, ‘You gotta be patient with us and we will be patient with you, and we will find the right song.’” Nail said. “It would have been easy for them to turn their back on me and say, ‘We tried again, but it didn’t work.’” “Red Light” turned out to be Nail’s right song and now the singer is worried about following it up. “It’s nerve-racking because you winder if you have (another song) that will move a mountain the way ‘Red Light’ has,” Nail said. “But at the end of the day, you have to trust your instincts that you made a great record of great songs. Nail hopes his new single “Turning Home,” will be another push for his career. Kenny Chesney and Scooter Carusoe wrote the song with Chesney in mind to sing it. When the megastar decided not to record “Turning Home,” Nail scooped it up. “I just new that this was that song that I had been searching for, probably the entire time that I’d been in Nashville,” Nail said. Being from a small town in southeast Missouri, all the imagery in the song was something that I could really relate to. I can close my eyes and be back in that small town…Friday night football game…I just love it.”
But Nail didn’t always love his small town of Kennett, MO. In high school, the singer wanted to get as far away from Kennett as he could. Most teens his age, Nail said, were expected to participate in sports programs and attend area colleges, but those prospects didn’t interest him. “There were very people that thought dropping out of college and going to pursue this crap-shoot (of a career in music) was a good idea,” he said. “My parents supported that, and my choir director that I grew up with encouraged me. Now in my old age I wish that I had a degree just so I could say I had one. My wife rubs that in every other day that she’s the one with the college education in the family.” Nail moved to Nashville when he was 18, but quickly found that he wasn’t fond of life without his mom “to make cereal in the morning”. He moved back to Nashville a second time two years later, and landed a deal with Mercury Records in eight months. He recorded a self-titled CD that never saw a release, and his first single, “Memphis,” struggled to No. 52 on Billboard’s country singles charts. Nail lost his record deal.
“I thought, ‘Well, hey, this is it,’” Nail said. “I thought, ‘Everything will take care of itself, and in 10 years I’ll be Garth Brooks.’ I don’t think it was until I was 25 and had fallen into a pretty dark depression that I realized, ‘Wow, I don’t have a deal any more, and I’m 25 years old and I’m already a has-been.’” Nail relied on the support of his friends to pull him out of depression, and decided he would take “one more crack at it.” He sat down and made a list of things that had to happen-like getting back in shape-and a list of people with whom he wanted to work. Six months later, 95 percent of the people on his list, Nail said, were already a part of his team. “It was weird how all that snowballed,” he said. “We just slowly started to figure out what we wanted to do, what kind of artist I wanted to be, and what kind of record I wanted to make.” Nail’s manager and producer fronted the money for him to record the first half of this record. When it was finished, they pitched the songs to his old label group, UNIVERSAL Music Group. The company picked up the project. “We saw he’d grown up, matured as an artist and that his desire for it was still there,” said Brian Wright, vice president of A&R at UMG Nashville. “He brought us great music, and it was a no-brainer.” But Nail didn’t find instant acceptance. The first single-I’m About To Come Alive’s title track- failed, and mo0re than a year passed before “Red Light” mad Nail a fan favorite on country radio. And now with a career full of speedy retreats and near misses, the singer is awed and humbled by his 10-year overnight success. “I went to New York four times in the last year” he said. “Where I grew up, New York was in the movies and television shows. It didn’t seem like a real place. So I walk around those streets and think about my friends and my parents who have never been, and I think about all the opportunities just this small amount of success has brought. I wondered if this was ever going to happen.”