Drew Baldridge

Drew Baldridge

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Drew Baldridge is astounded by the incredible numbers.

Over 1 million people have watched the official video of his single “Rebound” on YouTube. Even more impressive are the 22 million-plus Spotify streams the tune has received.

The song, which features guest vocals from Emily Weisband, and is on his debut Cold Rivers Records album, “Dirt On Us,” which also includes break-out single “Dance With Ya.”

“Holy cow. It is unbelievable to me that there are that many people listening to my music. Wow. You get bone tired traveling so much and discouraged when its looks like there is no progress, then you see the numbers and are instantly re-energized,” Baldridge said during a telephone interview Tuesday.

“Emily is a talented singer/songwriter. We've been friends for a long time and wrote the song about three years ago. When we decided to add the female vocal part, she was the natural choice because as the writers there was such an emotional attachment.”

Baldridge was in the middle of a three-day journey earlier this week taking him to Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York.

Sometimes the blur of concert dates and visits to countless radio stations — combined with the endless miles of travel — is overwhelming, but Baldridge's focus is razor-sharp as his career is poised to make another gigantic leap forward.

Riding the momentum of being named one of the Top 5 New Artists of 2017 by iHeart Radio, Baldridge will be releasing a new single Sept. 1, a song that will be part of a new 2018 album.

The title of the Tim Nichols-written song is a closely-guarded secret ... which is being leaked three days early — in Du Quoin.

Fans of the 26-year-old singer will be able to hear the new song live when Baldridge appears at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 29 at the Du Quoin State Fair as the opening act for Granger Smith.

“I wanted to do something special for my Southern Illinois fans,” Baldridge said. “They have stuck with me for a long time. I was just a kid chasing a dream when it started.”

Tickets for the show are $20, $17 and $14. For more information, call 618-542-1535.

Baldridge says the opportunity to be mentored by Nichols is priceless.

Nichols, who will be inducted to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame on Oct. 23, has penned hits like “Live Like You Were Dying” for Tim McGraw, “I'm Over You” for Keith Whitley and “Cowboys and Angels” for Dustin Lynch. He wrote six songs on the “Dirt On Us” album.

Baldridge, a graduate of Patoka High School, crashed onto the local music scene in 2012, competing in the Southern Starr talent contest at the Marion Cultural & Civic Center. He credits contestants Jennifer Thompson of Sandoval and Du Quoin's Keenan Rice for the encouragement to pursue a music career.

“I was so bad at that moment, but Keenan and Jennifer gave me the confidence I needed to make the commitment. Leaving home at 19 was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I was scared. There was no Plan B,” Baldridge said. “I knew I wasn't the most talented or the best singer. If was going to get anywhere, I had to outwork 'em.”

Baldridge grew up singing in church with his family, slinging square bales of hay on his grandfather's farm and excelling in athletics. With musical influences as diverse as Brooks & Dunn, the Backstreet Boys, Michael Jackson and Eric Church, he surprised the hometown sports fans by turning down a college scholarship offer to pursue his fast-developing music passion.

In 2013, he signed a recording and publishing contract with the independent THIS Music label. He released two minor projects before signing with Cold River in 2015 and re-releasing some of his earlier material on the “Dirt On Us” album.

Baldridge has toured with Jake Owen and Craig Morgan.

Social media gives fans unprecedented access to entertainers, and Baldridge is no exception. He could be seen hiking through the Redwood Forest with his girlfriend on Aug. 5, then a few days later offered to answer any possible question from Twitter and Facebook followers as he struggled through a grueling 30-hour drive from Utah to Music City.

“I've come a long way in the last four years. It's not glamorous all the time, that's for sure,” Baldridge says. “There is an occasional speed bump, but not many. I am so blessed. I get to see the world and play music for a living. It's a pretty good life.”

Baldridge just wrapped up a 26-city tour sponsored by Sirius XM radio. A life-long St. Louis Cardinals fan, earlier this season he played a pre-game concert at Ballpark Village and a post-game acoustic show inside Busch Stadium.

VINCE HOFFARD can be reached at 618-658-9095 or vincehoffard@gmail.com.

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