Country artists have long cornered the market by holding up a mirror to the world and allowing us to look at ourselves for a long time. Few genres express everyone’s hard-earned truths and struggles in the same way. Although in doing so they also become our confidant, our solace in these struggles, giving us a sonorous hand to hold with the promise that we are all somehow going through the same thing.
Chayce Beckham did just that when he debuted his original song “23,” on American idol. A song about growing pains and that weird time in your twenties where you don’t quite feel like an adult but at the same time don’t get the same grace as kids, the song has struck a chord with enough countries , and the star-studded panel of judges, that he made it all the way to the end of the show and ultimately won the crown.
Since the show, Beckham has had a whirlwind year full of a tour with Jimmie Allen, a lauded EP, and a number of gem singles that have sparked even more buzz around the 26-year-old. Only a year ago, Beckham was living at home and driving a forklift. Now he’s well on his way to finding a permanent place in the ranks of Nashville’s best and brightest.
Though reserved and busy, Beckham stopped by the American songwriter’s office to chat about his burgeoning career, his outlook on songwriting, and where he’s headed next.
Beckham won season 19 of the famous competition. His victory was made even sweeter by the fact that he was the first elder of Idol win with an original song – the aforementioned “23”.
“It’s been a really eye-opening experience to release music and connect with people through it,” Beckham told the American songwriter of his time on the show. “I guess it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but never found the right way to let people know. So it was a life-changing experience to be able to sing a few -some of my own songs, then to be the first person to win with an original song.
With the last year being such a haze, has Beckham had the chance to really process it all, taking time to reckon with his new found breath of life?
“It’s been a whirlwind of learning and experiencing life in new ways,” he says. “I don’t really have as much time as I would like, but it’s good to have good problems instead of bad ones.”
His latest album, “Keeping Me Up All Night,” is an anthem number full of swinging guitar lines and a punchy drum beat. Above all the tried-and-tested instrumentation, Beckham’s rich voice sinks deep into the ear and seduces for three minutes. While listening to it, it’s easy to find yourself hitting the replay button multiple times.
“We wrote this song about this isolated feeling of being left alone,” he says of the song. “It was written with four other people, so it’s nice that you have these different perspectives brought together in one. I think that way people can connect with it because it shares a lot of life experiences.
Before sharing “Keeping Me Up All Night,” Beckham delivered an EP that received critical and fan acclaim. do things right is full of a starry optimism that allows the listener to focus on the joys of life.
“Just live, be happy and breathe,” he says of the EP message. “Go out and do the things you love and talk to your family. These are the most important things to me. I feel like these are good messages to get across.
“Focus on yourself too,” he adds. “It’s okay to sometimes be selfish and focus on what you want to do or where you want to go. It should be a priority in your life.
closest to do it well, “Love to Burn” is in the vein of focusing on itself. Singing But when you’re not, you don’t miss me / You love me like I got love to burn, Beckham calls a selfish lover with deeply relatable lyrics.
“‘Love To Burn’ is about someone you love taking advantage of you,” he shares. “They loved you as you had loved to burn. Every time I played this song live, I was dripping with sweat. It’s a super active song. It’s always fun to see people dancing on that one too.
Another cut EP, “Where The River Goes” is in the spirit of finding your happy place. For Beckham, it’s a lot like a California lake with just him, a boat and a fishing line for the day.
“Before all this happened, before I moved to Nashville and did american idol, I would find peace on the water, fishing,” reveals Beckham. “‘Where The River Goes’ is this feeling of ‘shit, I don’t care if I miss work today, I’m going to float around and just have fun.'”
Since sharing his EP, Beckham has had the opportunity to take the songs on the road with Jimmie Allen. Along the way, he was able to connect with the fans he helped through tough times.
“Talking to people every time you go to play shows is one of the coolest things,” he says. “You can connect with them after the show and hear their stories or testimonies of the life struggles they’ve been through. It was nice to see people show up and know the lyrics to the songs and really connect with the music.
He adds, “I just talked to this kid from Idaho who told me about his breakup and how ’23’ is what made it happen. It’s amazing because I have many music that did the same for me.
As for what Beckham looks forward to in the next few years, he wants to continue telling stories and finding relatable truths in his life.
“My songs can be taken lightly or more seriously,” he says. “I think there’s always this fine line that I can walk with my music. It can be fun and upbeat, but there might be a deeper message behind it for someone else. I just want to write more songs that tell more stories and talk about the real things that people face every day.
More concretely, he should join Luke Combs and Riley Green on a tour across Canada this fall.
“I met Luke is coming american idol and we got along great,” he says. “After I won the show, he contacted me and asked if I wanted to go on tour. So I’ve been thrilled to be on this tour since I came down Idol. This is also my first tour outside of the United States. I’ll be with Luke and Riley Green. I’m a huge fan of both, so it’s going to be an exciting time.
Photo credit: Jacoby Plyler / BBR