Corey Kent: Singer, Songwriter, Father, Adrenaline Junkie
Corey Kent is 28 years old, married and a father to three kids, age five, two and one. He's also a bit ... impulsive.
"I still would love to ride a motorcycle at 120 MPH," the self-described "adrenaline junkie" tells Taste of Country. He should have said, "I still would love to ride a motorcycle at 120 MPH, again."
Kent's new Blacktop album is a study in contrast. A decade in Nashville with little to show for it made him patient, but it also taught him a few hard lessons. Most of these came through friends who made poor decisions and paid for it. The road life is filled with temptation, and he knows it.
"There’s alcoholism in my family, and I’ve had to really stare at that," he'll say. "Also, having three kids now, I gotta think about what do I want them to be exposed to and how do my actions come off to them."
Less than 10 minutes later, he's talking about how his love for motorcycles came from his father. After his parents split up, Dad would occasionally pick him up for school on his motorcycle.
"There would be a long line of cars in the neighborhood, right by the school, and he’d be like, ‘Watch this,'" he recalls with as big of a grin as any he's had the entire 30-minute-long conversation. “He had these loud tail pipes on this bike he had, and it would set all the car alarms off. It was so fun."
Two songs on Blacktop epitomize this gnarly juxtaposition. "Something's Gonna Kill Me" — a rumbling, dirt road country rocker — is followed by "Man of the House," his story of growing up in a single-parent household.
"Be strong when you ain’t / And hold on when you can’t / She won’t tell you, but she needs you / And you can’t let her down," country music's new Tulsa king cries to start the chorus. It's a tribute to his mom, all single moms and the men they raised. Austin Goodloe, Joybeth Taylor and Lydia Vaughan helped him finish the circle-of-life standout.
"People want to be able to categorize you and put you in a box and know exactly what you are. For me, I think there can be multiple versions of the same person," he says when comparison is held up to him.
'Wild as Her" is Kent's chart-topping radio hit. It spread virally on social media, but as with Sony labelmate Nate Smith and "Save Me" singer Jelly Roll, this narrative minimizes all the hard work that set him up for success. Think about it — there have been dozens of "viral" hits over the last three to five years, but the artists we're still talking about today had an established work ethic pre-TikTok.
Kent had a publishing deal in Nashville and was on the right track until the day he started to think, 'Man, this is really easy.' That's when he lost the job and his touring income once the pandemic hit. So, he moved back to Texas and took a job with a road paving company to pay the bills. That's half the reason he called the album Blacktop.
When the bottom dropped out, he says he "spit out the blood" and got to work, releasing new songs every eight weeks for several years. One show a month turned to one a week, which became "Oh my gosh, I need to quit my real job." Diligence and consistency were the key that turned the engine for his viral success.
“I think what it really boils down to is authenticity. Do people believe what you’re saying and are you delivering it in a way that makes people feel something?" he asks.
With Blacktop, he's proven that the answer is yes, times 10.