Josh Gracin Talks 'Redemption,' Working With Ruben Studdard Again
Josh Gracin Talks 'Redemption,' Working With Ruben Studdard Again

This week, Josh Gracin will release "Redemption" -- his debut album for Average Joe's Entertainment. In part of the media tour for the disc, he says that he is glad for the fans to be able to hear the new music.

"I worked on this one for a little while," he tells Billboard.com. "I think I handed it in to the record company about six months ago. They took it at that point, got it mastered, and tweaked a few things. They got done with it at the end of August. Now we're here."

Gracin, who began his career on Lyric Street with smash hits such as "Nothin' To Lose" and "Stay With Me," knows it's been three years since his last disc, "We Weren't Crazy," was released.

"It's a great feeling for me to get this out. It feels like I've had a record every three years. I would prefer for it not to be that way, but everything happens for a reason. Now it's up to the fans, and the label, and me to get out there and plugging away to see how well it does."

In an unusual move, the album will be released before the former Marine releases a single to Country Radio. "That's going to be interesting," he reflects. "This is the first time in eight years that I'll be releasing an album without a single on the country charts. But, we felt we needed to get it out there -- that we needed to have new music out there for the fans. Knowing that we were going to be coming to radio with a single next year, our approach was that when they hear it, the product is out there, and there's no waiting. They can search it, and it pops up. I'm crossing my fingers. We'll see."

But, "Redemption" does feature music that has been on the airwaves as of late. "Long Way To Go" has been making an impact on AC stations. "It's done very well," he says of the song, admitting that "It was the dark horse. I didn't think it would be picked for any kind of single. It was picked out by someone who had heard the entire record, and thought it had a shot in the AC world. I thought, 'Why not?'"

He says that taking that chance was something he felt that he could do, as his musical stylings have always been all over the map. "I think that's one of the cool things about me. Everybody has a niche, and they go with it. That's usually the most successful people that you see. They find their mark, and they find their corner. They find it, and go there as long as they can go. I'm a little different. I think my niche is universal. The music that I make is country music, but it can also be listened to by people who like other stuff. I grew up listening to all kinds of music, and that's very evident by the songs that are on the record."

Gracin collaborated with Ruben Studdard on "Catastrophe." He had the song written, but realized it needed a little bit of work, and sent him a message via Twitter. "I didn't know if he would see it or not because you never know who's actually doing the pages. He sent me a message right back, and he lives in Birmingham. So, all I had to do was drive down there -- about two hours -- and we finished it. He came up with a brilliant bridge."

Without a doubt, the emotional centerpiece of the album is the inspiring "Can't Say Goodbye," written with Seana Arrechaga. The song details her losing her husband, Army SFC Ofren Arrechaga, who died in March from wounds from a firefight in Afghanistan one month before he was scheduled to return home.

Of his involvement, Gracin said that "Sears approached me early this spring to be involved with Heroes At Home, and to be involved with a contest they had people from around the globe who have a loved one who serves in the military could write a song and submit it to Sears. The top essay then went to me, and it was my job to write a song about it."

He said that the way that Seana is carrying on is an inspiration to him. "People deal with tragedy different ways. To use their loved one's memory, and to live their life through their memories, and through what he gave to me during the short time they were together. I was very fortunate and very honored to be part of it."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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