Country

Drake White Says His Career Is 'Just at the Tip of the Iceberg' Ahead of Nashville New Faces Show

Drake White performs at Sutter Home Winery during Live in the Vineyard on Nov. 5, 2016 in St. Helena, Calif.
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Drake White performs at Sutter Home Winery during Live in the Vineyard on Nov. 5, 2016 in St. Helena, Calif. 

On Friday night, the New Faces Show will bring Nashville's 2017 Country Radio Seminar to a close, and the lineup is quite impressive, with William Michael Morgan, Jon Pardi, Granger Smith and recent Grammy winner Maren Morris all showcasing their talents for radio programmers.

One act excited to be on that bill is Dot recording artist Drake White. “We’re stoked, man,” he tells Billboard. “To work as hard as everybody works, and to be a part of this class, that’s all I have ever wanted -- just to be in the conversation. To grow up in a CJ7 Jeep, sitting on a cooler, and listening to country radio, then having an opportunity to do it -- grateful is the word that I think of. These folks that I have had the opportunity to create relationships with, there’s been some interesting ones that have been very genuine. It’s just a great time for real music. I’m proud of that. I can’t wait.”

The native of Hokes Bluff, Alabama, took a unique path to the New Faces stage. It’s not his first go-round at radio: White was on the MCA Nashville roster, where he hit No. 36 on the Country Airplay chart with “Simple Life” in 2013. He signed with Dot in 2015 and watched as his singles “It Feels Good” and “Livin’ the Dream” both climbed into the top 40, with the latter hitting No. 12 on the Country Airplay chart last year. Dot is his second label deal, and he’s proud to be there. “It is a great feeling. I think it lends itself to my attitude and just staying positive. Everybody’s got their path and their own story. There’s plenty of opportunities where I could have quit and gotten an engineering job, but I really feel like we are just beginning. We’re just at the tip of the iceberg of what we’re going to be able to do, and I’m just glad that God has given me the opportunity. I developed some fans in my early relationships with radio, and it’s those people that I thank for giving me that chance. I feel like everything happens for a reason, and this is our time.”

When asked to recall certain high points along his radio tours, White said it was more of a region that took control of his heart -- for airplay and culinary purposes. “I’ve always felt like the Northeast was special, and it just blew me away. I heard Garth Brooks say one time that he credits Ohio for breaking him. I always wondered why that was. Then, I went up there, and then on to Boston. I started chipping into to all the different people. It’s just the population density, really. There’s a lot of people up there, and a lot of country music lovers. I remember eating Maine lobster in Portland. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, but we ordered steak and lobster, and it was pretty insane. Overall, I just remember the genuine relationships I’ve made at radio, and we talk regularly about anything from the Dallas Cowboys on. It’s just great to be in that position.”

That Dallas Cowboys association comes from White’s appearance in a series of television spots for Geico, which featured his song “Heartbeat” alongside Cowboys tight end Jason Witten. White says he can’t believe the exposure the spot has given him. “Years ago, I would go out and watch commercials and hear these songs. I just wondered how that worked. So to get the education of all that coming full-circle, and getting Geico on our team, how that came to be was literally being at the right place at the right time. They gravitated towards the real thing. There’s a line in there that says, ‘It’s in the heartbeat. It’s in the real thing. You can’t make it up. It’s in your soul deep.’ So they kind of pulled toward that lyric, and luckily, we made it happen. We went out and shot a really good video. The Jason Witten one is cool, but I can’t wait for everyone to see the one that will be coming out in March. We shot it in Lake Powell, and some of it at a live show in Austin. I’m just grateful to have the opportunity to be associated with Geico and with Jason Witten and the Cowboys. That whole experience has been great."