You probably haven’t heard of Russell Dickerson yet, but don’t worry—you will.
He’s been heralded as country music’s ‘next big thing’ and peaked at #1 on Billboard’s Emerging Artist chart, but the truth is that the 30-year-old has been on this journey for most of his life.
Earlier this month he took to the stage at CMC Rocks in Queensland, Australia’s biggest international country and roots festival, to deliver the pop-country tones of his hit song ‘Yours' in Australia’. This is the one of a handful of stops on a world tour, but one thing very rarely changes: his wife of more than four years, Kailey, is always by his side.
In fact, she shot and starred in his music video and created his album artwork (of the same name) on a budget of $6. Which, given the fact the entire album is about her, is quite poetic.
“I love [marriage] and I just want to communicate that,” he said to billboard magazine. “Some people try to put on this facade of being single and desirable, but some people want a relationship. That’s what’s changed for me; it is being confident in being taken. It’s the best thing ever.”
Raised in Nashville, Tennessee since he was 10, music was well and truly in Russell’s blood. His father was the choir director at their local church, and he began playing piano at the age of eight under the instance of his mother. Becoming self-taught in guitar and vocals through high school, the path to fame seemed set—but his attempts at becoming the next Keith Urban didn’t pan out.
“Once I stopped caring what people thought, it was like people were attracted to that,” he told People magazine.
Instead of writing stereotypical country songs about heartbreak and whisky, he tried a different route and wrote poppy, upbeat songs about what he knew best: marriage.
Russell and Kailey met when they were enrolled at Belmont University’s vocal performance program. Starting out as ‘just friends’ it soon became clear there was no going back, and they’ve been riding the throes of the music industry ever since.
He wrote the song ‘Yours’ during the first year of their marriage, a time when money was scarce and he hadn’t yet made it in the industry. But this highlighted their commitment to put one another first, no matter what comes their way.
“[The] anthem of the last year of our marriage [is] finding alone time and being very protective of that time together,” he said to Christian lifestyle bloggers Hudson and Emily.
“We honestly spend 98% of our time together and we love it,” Kailey shared. “It’s so powerful because he’s not singing to some 40-year-old camera operator in a normal studio setting, he’s actually singing to me.”
While the last year has been a whirlwind of tour dates and new destinations, what keeps them grounded is their love for one another and their faith in God.
Russell’s favourite verse is Hebrews chapter 11, verse 1, and this has become the foundation for his career.
“‘Faith is the assurance of things not seen’ is really what I’ve held onto my entire career, because I know what is coming and I know what I’m called to do and be,” he told Hudson and Emily. “Just holding onto that faith knowing that it’s coming has been really something that has been strong in my life for sure.”
There’s no doubt that when it comes to Russell Dickerson, his wife and faith are intrinsic to his identity and success as an artist—something that can remind all of us about what is truly important in life.
“She believes in me,” he said to People, “and that’s the most important thing.”