Before winning the entertainer of the year award at the CMAs last night (Nov.8), Garth Brooks chatted with Billboard on the red carpet about the importance of young music writers and the future of country music.
At the show, the country superstar performed “Ask Me How I Know,” his first song in decade to make it on the Billboard Hot 100. When asked pre-show about what he had in store for his performance, he gushed about Mitch Rossell, a 29-year-old singer-songwriter who moved to Nashville from Chattanooga, who penned the hit.
“[‘Ask Me How I Know’] is the first thing he’s ever had cut and recorded. He’s a songwriter that moved here with nothing but a dream, so we all decided to bring him up with us, and he’s playing with us. He’s a little nervous right now, because he’s just a kid, and he’s just starting out, but he’s the sweetest guy in the world,” said Brooks. He added jokingly, “You see his face and he’s scared to death right now, and we’re enjoying every second of it.”
Brooks, who has been one of the most prominent figures in country music for decades, has often championed young songwriters and paved the way for a new generation of artists within the genre. He had previously worked with young, up-and-coming singer-songwriter Caitlyn Smith, who co-wrote 2014’s “Tacoma,” from his Man Against Machine album.
Brooks acknowledges the importance of giving these artists the opportunity to shine: “These are the people who plant the seeds. So if you give a damn about tomorrow, you gotta take care of these people — and we’re in good hands. Country music is in great hands, because the talent of these young guys, especially songwriters, is phenomenal.”
Watch the entire interview from backstage at the CMAs above.