Sugarland's Kristian Bush Premieres 'Sing Along' Lyric Video, Talks 'Accidentally' Writing a Musical

Joseph Llanes
Kristian Bush

Billboard is excited to bring you an exclusive first look at the new lyric video for Kristian Bush’s new single, “Sing Along.” Filmed in downtown Music City, the Georgia native is excited about his debut single for BBR Music Group/Wheelhouse Records. 

“The song itself is along the same tracks of what I usually try to do, which is A) tell the truth, B) have something that is very sing-able, and C) make it about my life. Also it helps to stay fresh in the genre as far as radio goes because I love making things that get played on the radio -- that’s one of my passions. So, staying aware of how that makes you feel, and not really the science of it, but the heart of it.”

Bush also says that “Sing Along” is quite personal to him. “Not only does it do what it is asking you to do in singing along with the song,” he says, “but it also reaches out to somebody that I was in a relationship with that I made a terrible mistake with. It’s not as much of an apology as it is a ‘Please Remember’ message that what we had was great. I hope the song gets stuck in her head, and makes her remember how good we were.”
 
Admittedly, Bush wasn’t to release a new single until later in the year, but early exposure on The Bobby Bones Show netted an early release. Bush is grateful that the influential programmer is a fan of his work.

“That man is a true supporter of music. He reminds me of what it was like in high school and one of my friends from high school would play me songs and say ‘You should hear this new band.’ The only difference is he’s doing it on a syndicated radio show heard across the country. That all has its own unbelievable set of consequences. He heard it, and loved it, and started playing it for his audience. It wasn’t really supposed to go to the radio stations yet. But suddenly people were asking about it, and the record label had to release it. That’s a great problem to have -- when demand outpaces your timing.”
 
Between working on his second solo album since Sugarland took a break, Bush has also been quite busy with the success of the musical Troubadour. The play wrapped up its opening run last weekend in Atlanta, and it was something that took him totally by surprise.
 
Troubadour has been quite an experience. It is a musical about country music in the year 1951. It’s a story that was written by a famous Atlanta playwright named Janece Shaffer. She approached me to write one song for her play about a couple of years ago. I thought ‘This can’t be much different than writing one song for a movie, and I can do that.’ So I did it, but I did it at the breakfast table as she was telling me the story, which was kind of odd. I sent it to her that night, and she loved it. A couple of weeks later, she asked me for a second song. I thought that maybe I got lucky on the first one, so I would give her some choices on the second one, so I sent her three. She picked all of them, and very quickly, the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, which is our very largest regional theater in southeast, picked it up and said they would like to do a table read of it. I went there and listened to these amazing actors sing my songs and read her dialogue, and it just came to life.”

As it turned out, his initial contribution to Troubadour turned out to be much more. “Suddenly, the director at the Alliance asked ‘How many songs can we get?’ I told them I could give them as many as they wanted, so I kept writing them. So I accidentally wrote a musical. It was such a joy to watch it come to life. I have never been a part of anything like this. It’s a Tony Award-winning theater, and the sets, wardrobe, casting, and direction have all been unreal -- even beyond anything Jennifer and I did with Sugarland, and we did a lot. This kind of production has been very humbling to be around, and it’s exciting to see the story in this kind of way, and that it’s connecting with audiences. It’s taken on a life of its own. I had no idea that this was something that I had dreamed of doing. But once I had done it, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it earlier.”
 
Could this success lead to more production work behind the scenes? Bush hopes so. “During the run of it, I had so much support from the Atlanta community and the Broadway community, that I’m already starting to field some offers to do some more, and Troubadour may have a pretty big future – knock on wood,” he says cautiously.
 
Besides working on his follow-up to 2015’s Southern Gravity, Bush has been sitting in the producer’s chair working on a new EP from the talented Lindsay Ell. “She is really exciting to work with. She and Benny Brown approached me in the middle of last year about working with her. I said ‘Sure, let’s sit down and talk first, because producing records for me is a different kind of attitude than a lot of producers I’ve worked with in Nashville. I’m a bit more of an immersive producer.

"I sat with her, and we spoke for a while about who she is and who she wants to be. Because I come from the perspective of being an artist, I’m most interested in making a beginning of a conversation in her story that is going to last for twenty or thirty more years. You take a little more care with that than you would if we slapped together five songs. What songs you pick is important, how you record them, and how you feel about them is important, because you need to fall in love with making music. I take the producer's job very seriously, and it’s my job to help you fall in love with what you’re doing. She’s an amazing talent.”
 
Speaking of amazing talents, what does the future hold for Sugarland? Bush says simply “I can’t wait to get back out and do something - whenever it’s time to do it. A lot of it rides on Jennifer. By the interesting nature of how it works, her voice is the voice of the band. We probably can’t have a single on the radio at the same time with her and the band. I’m always ready, and waiting for the right timing from her. I think that’s right. What we do when we create together is something that is really special. I know we have two records left with Universal, and the time will be right for the label, as well as for Jennifer. It’s always going to be right for me.”