TRENT WILLMON FACTS:
BORN: MARCH 6, 1973, AMARILLO, TX
FAMILY: MOTHER: BILLIE; FATHER: DEAN; BROTHER : RUSTY; DAUGHTER: MONTANA
RAISED IN DICKENS CO., TX, ATTENDED MOTLEY COUNTY ELEMENTARY AND PATTON SPRINGS JR. HIGH AND HIGH SCHOOL, GRADUATED WITH 7 CLASSMATES.
SCHOOL ACTIVITIES: BASKETBALL, TRACK, RANCH RODEOS, CHAPTER FFA PRESIDENT
JOBS: FARM AND RANCH HAND, BREAKING COLTS
DISTRICT 3 4-H PRESIDENT, SERVED ON TX 4-H COUNCIL, NATIONAL 4-H ACHIEVEMENT AWARD, and SCHOLARSHIP FROM SAN ANTONIO LIVESTOCK ASSOC.
1991-93: ATTENDED SOUTH PLAINS COLLEGE, AG SCIENCE MAJOR
1993-94: SANG AT FIESTA TEXAS, SAN ANTONIO
1994-95: WORKED FOR LONE STAR TELEPHONE AS CABLE WORKER
1995-96: PLAYED UPRIGHT BASS FOR BLUEGRASS LEGEND, KARL SHIFFLETT
1996-99: MOVED TO NASHVILLE, WORKED AS BASS PLAYER, BARTENDER, FARM & RANCH HAND, RODE STEEPLECHASE HORSES
1999: SIGNED AS STAFF WRITER FOR SEAGAYLE MUSIC PUBLISHING
2004: SIGNED RECORD DEAL WITH SONY/ COLUMBIA
2005: RELEASED “TRENT WILLMON”, SINGLES: BEER MAN, DIXIE ROSE DELUXE’S, HOME SWEET HOLIDAY INN, THE GOOD LIFE
2007: RELEASED “A LITTLE MORE LIVIN’”, SINGLES: ON AGAIN TONIGHT, SO AM I
HOSTED CMT’S “AMERICA’S TOP COWBOY”
2008: RELEASED “BROKEN IN” ON COMPADRE RECORDS, SINGLES: THERE IS A GOD, BROKEN IN
STARRED IN MOVIE PALO PINTO GOLD
2012: PRODUCED CODY JOHNSON’S “ANOTHER DAY ALBUM”
2013: RELEASED “LIVE AT THE RUTLEDGE” ALBUM RECORDED AT CMA FEST
2013-2015: PRODUCED ALBUMS FOR CODY JOHNSON, CURTIS GRIMES, JOSH GRIDER
*AS A SONGWRITER, TRENT HAS WRITTEN MANY SONGS CUT BY OTHER ARTISTS, INCLUDING: BRAD PAISLEY, ERIC CHURCH, LITTLE BIG TOWN, WADE HAYES, RANDY HOUSER, KEVIN FOWLER, GRANGER SMITH, JOHNNY COOPER, JOSH GRIDER, CODY JOHNSON, ROGER CREAGER, JULIA ROBERTS, BLAKE SHELTON, MADDIE AND TAE, MERLE HAGGARD
* STEEL MAGNOLIA’S BILLBOARD TOP 5 “KEEP ON LOVIN’ YOU”,
*MONTGOMERY/ GENTRY’S BILLBOARD #1 “BACK WHEN I KNEW IT ALL”
*WILLMON HAS CO-WRITTEN SEVERAL SONGS THAT HAVE REACHED THE #1 SPOT ON THE TEXAS REGIONAL RADIO REPORT CHART, INCLUDING:
*WHERE THE GRINGOS DON'T GO, ROADSHOW, RIVER SONG, TURN IT UP, SWINGIN’ FROM THE CHANDELIERS, DRIVIN’ HOME (ROGER CREAGER)
*THAT GIRL, LOVE SONG (KEVIN FOWLER)
*DIAMOND IN MY POCKET (CODY JOHNSON)
*COWBOY KIND (CURTIS GRIMES)
*SHOTGUN (CAMERON NELSON)
*PRODUCED HIS OWN ALBUM “LITTLE OL’ CAFÉ”,
*PRODUCED CODY JOHNSON’S “ANOTHER DAY” (4 TEXAS CHART #1’S),
*PRODUCED CODY JOHNSON’S LATEST ALBUM “A COWBOY LIKE ME”, #2 SELLING ITUNES COUNTRY ALBUM ON RELEASE, WITH 3 TEXAS CHART #1’S
*PRODUCED JOSH GRIDER’S ALBUM “THE GETTING THERE” (3 TEXAS CHART #1’S)
*PRODUCED JOSH GRIDER’S ALBUM “LUCK AND DESIRE” (3 TEXAS CHART #1’S)
*PRODUCED CURTIS GRIMES’ ALBUM “OUR SIDE OF THE FENCE” (2014) (2 TEXAS CHART #1’S)
*PRODUCED CURTIS GRIMES' ALBUM "BOTTOM OF THE FIFTH" (2015)
*PRODUCED BREELAN ANGEL'S ALBUM "DIAMOND IN A RHINESTONE WORLD" (2015)
*TRENT IS CURRENTLY PRODUCING A NEW ALBUM ON CODY JOHNSON, AS WELL AS A NEW ALBUM ON KEVIN FOWLER, BOTH OF WHICH ARE DUE OUT IN SPRING 2016.
*WILLMON HAS BEEN THE NARRATING VOICE ON THE LAST 2 SEASONS OF “MEET THE MCMILLANS”
*TRENT WILLMON CURRENTLY IS A FULL-TIME SONGWRITER, PERFORMER, PRODUCER, AND PUBLISHER. IN HIS SPARE TIME HE ENJOYS BOATING, HUNTING, FISHING, BARBECUEING AND TEAM ROPING, WORKS WITH SEVERAL CHARITIES INCLUDING ST. JUDE’S, SPONSORS SEVERAL 4-H EVENTS, AND HE IS A MEMBER OF THE TEJAS VAQUEROS.
INTERVIEW, February 2016
WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW?
I live in Burns, TN, about 35 minutes form Nashville. We have a place in the country, quiet and peaceful, lots of trees and a creek. A beautiful part of the world. It allows me to live in the country and still go to work where the music business is, and allows me to write and produce music for a living. Kind of the best of both worlds.
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
I grew up in Afton, TX. Very small town west of Ft. Worth about 4 hours, we had 6- man football, 100 kids K through 12.
Great place to grow up, great community, the best people in the world, many I am still friends with today.
My mother, Billie, who grew up in Harris County, Texas, is the free- spirit, the one that instilled in us the creative side. She was a school teacher as well as a nurse while I was growing up, and was very active with my brother and I in school and 4-H activities. My Dad, Dean, was also a school teacher and rancher, and taught me to love the outdoors, nature, hunting and fishing, the river and the woods.
My brother, Rusty, lives in Austin and is the smarter sibling (and better looking). He works in the IT world, and although he has explained to me what he does, I am still not smart enough to understand it. My daughter, Montana, lives in north Texas with her mother, she is beautiful and smart and she also sings and writes a bit, although has not taken it seriously enough to get past the hobby stage (which is fine with me!).
WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN COUNTRY MUSIC?
I was eaten up with music at a very young age. My mother was a fan of music (not necessarily Country) and had tons of vinyl records and 8-track tapes. Because we lived too far in a rural area to get TV, music and reading books were our primary past times growing up. Lots of Motown, big band, jazz, blues, and early rock and roll like the Everly Brothers and Elvis, The Drifters, Gladys Knight, and The Beach Boys. Occasionally there was an 8 track of Charlie Rich, Johnny Cash, Don Williams, or Glen Campbell. In fact, the first song I remember singing when I was 2 or 3 was Rhinestone Cowboy. I feel like all those records influenced me greatly. My love for soul, for harmonies, and for memorable and emotional melodies and stories all stem from those classic songs I heard over and over at an early age. Mix that with a love for literature passed down from schoolteacher parents, and its no surprise that I have tried to write songs almost my entire life.
WHAT GOT YOU STARTED ON THE ROAD TO MUSIC FAME?
I first started singing in church and at local 4-H functions, and occasionally would enter a talent contest. My mother bought me a $40 Mexican guitar in Acuna, across the border from Del Rio, TX, and I played my first bar when we stopped at Ma Crosby's and I played my new purchase for a few patrons during happy hour. I only knew 3 songs; they were all George Strait songs of course. I was 16 at the time. It wasn't until I went to South Plains College on an agriculture scholarship that I seriously started playing and writing. South Plains had, and still has, a great commercial arts program that has been the start for many folks such as Lee Ann Womack and Natalie Maines from the Dixie Chicks. I left there and went to work for Fiesta Texas playing and singing, and it has taken over my life ever since. Occasionally I have had to get a real job, but I've made a living playing music about half of my life, and I can't imagine doing anything else.
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE SINGER AND WHY?
I've been saying for the last decade that the best singer that ever stepped foot in Nashville is Chris Stapleton. He's the singer I wish I was. I think most artists I know would agree with me. That kind of talent is undeniable, pure soul. I'm very happy for him and his success. It's taken 10 years for the rest of the world to catch up, but I'm glad it's finally happened. Then there are a few others that rank really high: Don Williams, Haggard, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Otis, and a couple songwriters like Casey Beathard and Tony Lane that are about the best storyteller kind of singers I've ever heard. But the list could go on and on.
DO YOU WRITE YOUR OWN SONGS?
I write most of the things I've recorded. But not everything. It was simply because I wrote for 10 years before I cut any records. I think it's a huge mistake for an artist not to cut outside songs. I think ego gets in the way for a lot of artists. If you have a chance to record a great song that is a hit or something that can help your career or help you reach your audience, and you don't cut it because you have some silly idea that real artist write all their own stuff, then you're a damn fool. It's an amateur move that I see all the time. Look at some of the greatest writers of all time: Willie and Waylon. Both of them cut ENTIRE albums of songs they didn't write. The truth is, there are people who have spent decades honing the craft of writing and are a lot better than I am, and if I get a chance to cut a song that is undeniable, I will! Some of the best songs I sing I did not write. And the same goes for the greats of our time from Garth to Madonna: don't let your ego get in the way of success. Cut the best songs you can, no matter who writes them.
IF SO, WHAT ARE THE INSPIRATIONS?
Inspiration sometimes comes from a story I've heard or an emotion that I'm feeling, or inspiration can come from hearing a piece of music and saying, "I want to write a song like that because, damn, that's good!" But mostly it comes from PERSPIRATION. It comes from banging around on a guitar and trying to achieve the near impossible task of creating something unique and yet still current, something that sounds familiar and yet fresh. Something that says something but isn't so deep that the listener gets lost. After spending most of my life writing songs, it doesn't get any easier, the bar just gets higher. But every now and then, if you work at it day after day, you will stumble across (by accident, usually) a great idea. Then you try to put a great melody to it and sing it 500 times until the phrasing is just right and then pray that someone else hasn't written that same idea and maybe, just maybe, you can play it for your publisher or an artist and they say, "Wow, that's a great song!" and then maybe they will record it, and then maybe the album will really come out, and then, just maybe it's a single on the radio, and then maybe if all the stars line up, the stations add your song at the right time, the label stands behind the single, and the artist doesn't get busted for beating his wife or cussing the President, then just maybe you will have a hit song. The odds of all of it lining up are astronomical, and it's only happened to me a handful of times, but that, my friend, is inspiration.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN ENTERTAINING WITH YOUR MUSIC?
I'm not sure how entertaining I was at 5 or 6, but I have always sung as long as I can remember.
RECORD COMPANY THAT YOU ARE SIGNED WITH?
I've had a couple of different record deals, although I don't know that I'll ever have to or need to have one again. Labels are great for using money and leverage to promote a radio single or an album release, but times have changed, and for independent artists like myself, there are different ways of promotion that are better suited. The first deal I had with Sony/ Columbia was an amazing experience. I got to see how things were done in the big leagues, with the big budgets, the tour busses and limos, the award shows and glitz, and it was exciting. But I also got to see the side of the shady radio world, the long tours spending 300 days a year on the road, the hard work, the broken promises, the politics of a game where rules changed constantly and art was a commodity. When Sony merged with RCA/BMG, I was ousted along with every single one of the other artists on my label with the exception of Miranda. Stepchildren aren't usually favored unless they sell Platinum. Don't get me wrong, I love Miranda, but the rest of those artists were casualties, and it was a dark time for a lot of us. I did get into another record deal afterward, but it was an even darker experience. I've not pursued another one since. I'm a lot happier writing songs, producing, and playing my shows in Texas and Oklahoma and spending more time with my family.
SOME OF YOUR SONGS ARE?
My first album had "Beer Man", 'The Good Life", and "Dixie Rose Deluxe's", then on the next album we released "On Again Tonight" and "So Am I". After that, we had minor radio success with a couple songs, but most of the ones that are fan favorites like "Ropin' Pen" and "Louisiana Rain" were never singles. At my live shows I play a few of the hits I've written for other artists like Montgomery Gentry's "Back When I knew It All", and I've written about 10 Texas Chart #1 songs, so we play some of those. And I play a lot of Haggard or Strait covers, just because I like them.
I love the outdoors, boats, guns, horses. Only trouble is finding enough free time...