Country boy: Brett Eldredge

By / Cover stories / December 15, 2017

The Illinois native celebrates his best year yet

Paris, Illinois, native Brett Eldredge has had a pretty good year: The country singer/songwriter wrapped up a tour opening for Luke Bryan in March, released his fourth album in August (it debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 list), and announced two upcoming tours for 2018, one alongside good friend Blake Shelton, and the other his first-ever headlining tour.

In the last 30 days alone, he performed at the 85th annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, and re-released his own 2016 Christmas album, “Glow,” on vinyl in anticipation of the holiday season.

Now, finally, Eldredge is taking a breather, and heading home for the holidays to celebrate his success. “I always go back to Paris,” he says of his hometown (population 8,500) three hours south of Chicago. “It’s a trip back to normalcy. … I go to the same church I’ve been to since I was a little kid, and sit in the same spot, and recap the whole year with my family and the people who matter most. It gives me a refreshing reset to take on a new year.”

Eldredge’s priorities haven’t shifted since his days in Paris — chief among them making music and rooting for the Chicago Cubs. Of course, being a Cubs fan today is quite different and much more fun (Eldredge has struck up a friendship with first baseman Anthony Rizzo and even performed at the World Series parade in 2016); and making music turned out in his favor, as well.

“I literally have no idea what else I would do; I don’t have a backup plan,” he laughs. “I went to college and got a degree, but I knew I was never going to use it. I only wanted to make music for a living, whether I was playing in a little smoky bar or in arenas and stadiums. Luckily it’s worked out, but I’d still love it regardless of where it [took] me.”

Since moving to Nashville to pursue his dream in 2006, Eldredge, 31, has taken up songwriting, as well; his 2015 album, “Illinois,” and this year’s self-titled album feature only songs he wrote. “My approach is different every day,” he says of the writing process. “Sometimes as I’m walking down the street I might hear a melody in my head; sometimes I have lyrics that just come up. … But that’s the beautiful thing about songwriting: There are no rules. And I’d never follow them if there were.”

The singer remains single — he recently squashed rumors he was dating 20-year-old “Duck Dynasty” star Sadie Robertson, who starred in his video for “The Long Way,” released in October — but he does have at least one important life partner: his one-and-a-half-year-old Weimaraner-Vizsla mix Edgar (named for the Illinois county Eldredge hails from). The singer’s 1.2 million Instagram followers have fallen in love with the pup, who now has a fan club of his own with 135,000 followers (@edgarboogie).

“He goes with me almost everywhere,” Eldredge says. “It’s good to have a wingman on the road. … I used to get off stage and get on the [tour] bus and there’d be nobody there. I just sang in front of 20,000 people, and then I’m just sitting there by myself. Now Edgar’s there, waiting for me with a big hug when I get on.”


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