Saturday, August 8, 2015


If you've been watching this season of America's Got Talent, then you've seen the bald guy with the beard, tennis shoes and the huge voice who took America by storm last week with his kick ass rendition of "Jolene" by country music legend, Dolly Parton. Don't let the appearance fool you, there is some serious depth and talent behind those tattoos and those tennis shoes have stood on many famous stages across the country. This week, he will perform on one of the biggest and most famous stages on America, Radio City Music Hall in his fight to the #1 spot.

While the name and music is new to most of America, we've been blessed to know him for about 7 years now and absolutely love him. Benton is a stay at home dad to the world's cutest kid, he was an artist on the now defunct Golden Records label in Nashville which shut down a few years ago with no notice, and he is a loving husband who is now getting a second chance at his dreams on the successful NBC talent show featuring judges radio shock jock Howard Stern, Mel B of the Spice Girls, comedian Howie Mandel and supermodel Heidi Klum. The show airs on Tuesday nights at 8pm ET and starting next week, the live shows will begin where fans actually vote for their favorites. Our vote lies with Benton and we hope yours will as well once you listen to his amazing voice and take the time to get to know what a wonderful and humble person he is. Benton Blount is what second chances were made for.

Benton called me last week during his dinner break and was more than happy to answer some questions and talk to me about the show, his back story and what music means to him. Check out what he had to say.

Lovin Lyrics: Hey Benton! How are ya?

Benton Blount: Doin' good, just on a little dinner break trying to eat a little bit before I go back to work. It's a lot of work to do this show, more than I thought it would be, in a good way.

Lovin' Lyrics: Is it tiring you out just a little?

Benton Blount: Yeahhhhhh ... it's a little tiring but I'm refueling and getting back to it, definitely worth it.

Lovin' Lyrics: You've come a long way man, I mean after all the time we've waited for your audition to be shown then you come out as a pretty big presence on the show.

Benton Blount: Well, I think a lot of it is, it's funny when you go on TV, people tend to think you're just new. I am new obviously, nobody knows who I am, but I've been doing this for a long time and have had the good fortune to work in Nashville, doing the label thing and the radio tour thing so I know how to talk on the radio, camera angles, not standing where you're not supposed to be on camera, the stuff that many people don't know how to do yet doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with that, it's just they haven't had the opportunity to do it so it shows in my footage and they liked my style of music. It's been cool to see how much they've put into putting me on some of these episodes.

Lovin' Lyrics: It was kinda funny what Howard Stern said about you having your tennis shoes on and his remark about your "putting a lot of effort into dressing" for the show and then you completely blew him away, tennis shoes and all. Is that going to influence you, are you gonna change anything about your dress or are you just gonna keep being Benton?

Benton Blount: Yeah, the next round, I think I am gonna change it up and try something a little different. I've had different outfits in the past that I've been comfortable in. I think more than anything, I just wear what I'm comfortable going out on the road in. They asked me if I was OK with trying something different and I said I'd have to see it first. They laid it out and I liked the way it looked. It will definitely be a little more cleaned up, but it's not like I'm gonna be in a suit and tie or anything but I'm not gonna be in a t-shirt and tennis shoes kinda thing either. I think the show has been so successful because they know what they're doing and what needs to be done so when they give me advice, I try to take it. I'm not opposed to trying something different. I won't change who I am but I'm willing to try what they recommend if I feel like it still fits in with who I am.

Lovin' Lyrics: So not everyone knows your back story, I'm lucky enough to know it since connecting with you several years back. There are those who don't know about the problems you've had in the past, your record label unexpectedly shutting down with no warning just a few days shy of your debut single release. You've obviously gotten past that, but do you think it held you back or did it give you even more motivation to keep moving forward?

Benton Blount: Um, there was a period for about a month where I really just took time to look at the situation and do some reflecting. I wasn't angry. I went through a couple of moments where I wanted to get angry but I have such a strong friend and fan base that it's hard to really get angry because they motivated me to keep pushing on, more than that it was more about time to reflect on myself as an artist and figure out what kind of artist I wanted to be and what direction I wanted to take. It was really hard to get my bearings to move forward. Even though I couldn't see it then,  now that I look at it, it was really the best thing that could have happened because it propelled me to where I am now.

Lovin' Lyrics: It's been so wonderful to see you come as far as you have. We've seen you at the top of your game and we've seen you at the bottom of your game now here you are, you're at the highest point in your career since we've known you and for you to  be on this kind of stage and now, like we were talking about earlier, you've kind of stepped outside the Nashville circle and the country music circle of those who knew you.

Benton Blount: Yeah, um. I love Nashville, I love everything about Nashville, the good and the bad. I just got so tired of the politics and the way that things worked. I mean, I love my country radio friends and I know they wouldn't mind me saying this because I know they'd agree but the way the industry works, even if you're really talented they won't play you on the radio without the perfect combination and I just got tired of that and decided to do something different and go a different direction, praying one day that maybe my favorite country stations would play my music. I love playing music in general and I love country, so it's not like I completely turned my back on it or anything but I figured I would try it my way, a different way.

Lovin' Lyrics: That's great. You know how I feel about radio play. (*laughs*)

Benton Blount: Mmmmm hmmm (*laughs*)

Lovin' Lyrics: I don't think it all comes down to radio play and once you hit your stride, I think everything will eventually fall into place and be where it needs to be and you can be just as successful without being a Top 40 player. This is your chance to do it, you're an example of a second chance. You literally are a poster boy for second chances and how if you don't let them keep you down, you'll get that chance you've worked so hard for and believed in. Here's that chance.

Benton Blount: Yeah, and that's another reason I went the way I did. In Nashville, the other thing they don't like to talk about that I'll talk about is that there are super talented people out there that are one top of the world one day and if your label closes or your next song isn't as big as the one before, you become a virtual unknown again. Record labels won't touch them, radio won't play them, and they're kinda left out there in the wind. This was my way of dealing with all of that and giving myself a shot at a second chance.

Lovin' Lyrics: How was it when you got to the auditions and you made it through? Was it intimidating at all? Was it like, "OK, this is a pretty eclectic group of people. How am I gonna blend and even more important, how am I going to stand out?"

Benton Blount: Well, I've kinda always been a stand out, even when I was in Nashville country music. I mean the songs that I wrote, I think we even talked about this, I'm not the kind of guy that's gonna write about a John Deere tractor, cowboy hats, cowboy boots, tailgating, tan lines and all that. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just not me. So coming into something like this, at first, you think people are gonna see you as the country guy, can I fit in with all of this and can I do this in the middle of the largest city in the country with all of this hip, current stuff going on when the reality of it is I've always been an outcast, stand out kind of person to begin with so it's perfect. I was already home before I even walked out to audition.

Lovin' Lyrics: Yeah and you said it best when we talked earlier, you said you're just doing what you've always done, you're just on a much bigger stage and playing to a much wider, much larger audience. Well, I took some questions from a few fans online and wanted to make this about them as well ....

Lovin' Lyrics: Darlene Louf wants to know who or what influenced you?

Benton Blount: I grew up listening to a lot of different music. Of course there are my country favorites like Keith Whitley, Travis Tritt, Garth Brooks and I did listen to a lot of outlaw country like Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash. I didn't listen to it to the point where I felt like I was a product of it, because I'm the product of a lot of different musical influences. I didn't have a lot of money to be able to go out and buy a lot of music so whatever they played on the radio was pretty much what I had to listen to. I listen to rock and roll, I listen to rap, Motown, I listen to everything pretty much. I guess it all kinda influenced me. It's hard to narrow it down to a certain influence when there were so many different ones. Where I grew up that's kinda how it was. A country music fan didn't meant that you had to wear a cowboy hat and cowboy boots. Country music was about who we were. Travis Tritt was a super big influence of mine but at the same time Hootie and the Blowfish, Edwin McCain and alot of these, at the time, college bands told stories. They just got up with their guitars and told a story. I love that so any of those groups that just got up and told a good story, I consider them my main influences.

Lovin' Lyrics: Anyone that watches you sing can tell you do it because you love it. It really comes across in your performances that you do it for the love of the music and I think that's why people love you so much. You're so humble. Thank you for that.

Benton Blount: Thank you for saying that. I've literally lived my music life just loving the music and it's nice to know that people can see that when I'm performing. At the end of the day, it's the fans I'm trying to please and no one else.

Lovin' Lyrics: Emily Arnold wants to know what the biggest lesson is that you've learned as an artist?

Benton Blount: Hmmm ... I would say just be yourself. There are alot of artists who change who they are and that's not me. What I mean by that is stick to what you are comfortable with. You can try different things but if it's not something you're comfortable with, you don't have to do it. Find what it is that you can do and make a career out of it. Don't be hard headed, don't think "your way or the highway." Sometimes thinking that way comes as the expense of your career. Don't feel like you have to change who you are just because the musical environment around you is changing. Find what works best for you and works well for the industry at the same time.

Lovin' Lyrics: Oooh good answer! OK I have a couple from John Lisa before we let you go finish your sushi. With all the ups and downs with your career, what gives you the drive to not give up?

Benton Blount: Right now, it's my family. It's always really been my family. It was my mother growing up, it was just me and her. She worked three jobs to make sure I had everything I could ever need and want. When she allowed me to pursue music, I knew I was gonna do what I could to make her proud of me. A lot of people thought I was just gonna goof off with this thing and have fun but I was determined to take it seriously. I wanted her to be proud of her son and what she sacrificed for me. Of course that moved into when I got married and had my own family. I'm doing it for the people that I'm supposed to be taking care of, those who depend on me. Just the fact knowing that I was doing it for them pushed me through the hardest times. When people in the industry, not everyone, who called me their friend when I was on top of the mountain and then they forgot who I was as soon as I started to fall down. I'll never forget that. I remember watching them turn away when I was falling and that was a horrible feeling. I do it now for family, friends and those fans who didn't turn away, who stuck by me at the bottom and every day since then to where I am now. I also do it for the tradition of country music, it's what I love, the telling of stories. I do it for all those reasons, the reasons that last and aren't temporary. By that I mean a record deal is temporary, a hit single is temporary, a person in the business who is going to promise you the world is very temporary. Those things are at the bottom of my priority list where are they're at the top of other people's lists. That way I won't be disappointed. I already know there's a good chance that they're gonna go away so I focus on things and people who are gonna still be here.

Lovin' Lyrics: Wow, you're just full of great answers tonight. I love you more and more every time you open your mouth. What's the one thing that you want people to get or feel from your music?

Benton Blount: I talked about this a little bit on the show. I want people to have an experience when they come to see a show and not an experience like, and I say things sometimes that I don't mean to sound like I'm talking bad about someone, but you go see some big name artists play, you get fireballs, smoke, things going on behind them on a big screen and all this stuff going on. That's not the kind of experience I'm talking about, I think it's cool and I wish I could have all of that but I want to be able to walk out on stage and engage the audience to where when they leave, they feel like they were part of the concert, not that they just went to one. Playing songs they can sing along to, playing songs that mean something to them, performing to a level where someone would want to come see me also play acoustic, just me and a guitar,  something that's going to mean something to a fan twenty years from now and stay with them. I want to create an atmosphere of everyone being part of something more than just a show. That's how I've always done it, regardless of the size stage I'm on.

Lovin Lyrics: So you're on the live shows starting this Tuesday, August 11. Are you nervous?

Benton Blount: Ya know, I'm really not as nervous as I thought I would be. I enjoy being on stage so when I'm doing all this behind the scenes camera stuff, that's what I'm least comfortable with. So when I get on that stage, that's where I'm most comfortable.

Lovin' Lyrics: Who are your favorite competitors? There are some characters out there this year.

Benton Blount: Well, the funny part about it is that there are a lot of great people that I like that are one the show. The funny part is that the really good ones and the ones I've become good friends with are in my round on Tuesday. Honestly feel like I have one of the hardest rounds out of all the quarterfinal shows. We have Piff the Magic Dragon who is amazingly funny. He's already got a large fan base and already has a Vegas show. I have the band Triple Threat who have the One Direction fan base and the teenage girls and that's dangerous. Every one of the acts I'm going up against are amazingly talented and they're good friends. It's gonna be intense so I really have to step up my game.

Lovin' Lyrics: Which judge do you find the most intimidating?

Benton Blount: At first it was Howard Stern because he's Howard Stern, he says just what he thinks and is to the point but then I saw that he liked what I was doing so now I have to say Mel B. She's not easily impressed. She said a lot of nice things about me but wasn't overly impressed so I really have to step up my game this week and impress her.

Lovin' Lyrics: Well, thank you for giving us some of your very limited free time. I know you have sushi to eat and phone calls to make so I won't ask you the million other questions I could. We really appreciate your time and wish you all the luck next week. We'll be here with the rest of #TeamBenton.

Benton Blount: Thank you so much. It was nice to actually talk to you instead of just online all the time. We'll talk again soon. Don't forget to watch and vote on Tuesday.

So there ya have it, tune in on Tuesday, August 11, at 8pm ET and cheer on Benton on America's Got Talent. Download the free app and be sure to get your votes in there and via the other methods they'll provide at the end of the show. Join #TeamBenton and stand behind Benton all the way to the top!
Connect with Benton online at, Twitter at @BentonBlount, Facebook, and Instagram.

- Jenn

Follow Jenn on Twitter at @lovinlyrics

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