Exclusive: Craig Campbell Signs to RED BOW Records

Craig Campbell
Kristin Barlowe

'Keep Them Kisses Comin'' singer also just scored a song on Garth Brooks' new album.

Country singer Craig Campbell is kicking off December in a big way, with the announcement of a new recording deal with RED BOW Records, a division of BBR Music Group. Campbell tells Billboard that the word "excited" is an understatement.

"It's an amazing feeling. I've had my eyes on them, and am just in awe of how they have been breaking artists and are having so much success in being a powerhouse record label. Some people would call them an independent, but they have been kicking everybody's butt. I wanted what they have, and after Bigger Picture closed, I made a call and the Good Lord shined love down on me, and got me a meeting with them, and the rest is history. I'm so excited."

Craig Campbell Is Back With 'Never Regret'

The Lyons, Ga., native has enjoyed success with singles such as "Family Man" and "Outta My Head," and was closing in on his first top 10 hit this past spring with "Keep Them Kisses Comin'," when the decision was made to shut Bigger Picture down in May. He said there was a lot of uncertainty at the time. "When it closed, I was deflated. But, after thinking about it, I realized I was still working and doing my thing." So Campbell decided he would make lemonade out of the lemons he had been pitched. "The song was a hit song, so I became my own radio guy. I started calling stations, and asked them not to give up on me because we didn't have a record label. Sure enough, we were able to move the song about six more spots after it closed, which was a testament to the song and the relationships I had out in radio." The song eventually hit No. 9 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart.

Interestingly enough, it was one of his fellow artists that helped pave the way to his signing with RED BOW. "I've been buddies with Thompson Square for a long time, and when the label closed, I got a call from Kiefer [Thompson] who asked me what was going on. I told him, and he said, '[Label owner] Benny Brown is all about good music, and he would be lucky to have you. Do you want me to make a call?' I told him that if he felt comfortable, that would be awesome. For another artist to come to me and tell me that they wanted me to be a part of their label, that was pretty cool."

And Campbell is loving being associated with a label head who understands him as an artist. "Benny is a music man, and he's got a great track record of picking great songs. He loves country music, and that's what I am. I don't want to pigeonhole myself into being a more traditional sound, but I do feel that is where I fit. He gets it. He understands me and my music, and that's another reason I wanted to be over there."

No timetable has been set for a first release for Campbell on Red Bow, as the song selection process has just begun. "Benny has made it very clear that he wants to be happy and he wants me to be happy," Campbell says. "At the end of the day, we all have to be proud of the album. We've been listening to songs, but haven't sat down and made any final decisions. But I have a feeling that meeting is going to come very soon." No producer has been selected for the project as of yet.

His signing coincides with the biggest moment of his songwriting career, as he co-wrote "All American Kid," a cut from Garth Brooks' new disc Man Against Machine. He admitted that he still hasn't gotten used to the idea that the Hall of Famer cut one of his songs. "It wasn't until we listened to the album that I realized that it wasn't a joke. I've never had another artist record  one of my songs. When we got the call that Garth was going to record one of my songs, I didn't believe it. Then we got another email saying he wanted to change the title. But I thought that he might have recorded it, but it won't make the album. Then, on the day the record came out, I went to Target and bought two copies -- one to leave sealed, and I opened the other one up and saw my name. It was a dream come true!"