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Conversations with Trace Thompson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Trace Thompson.

Hi Trace, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
Looking back, my life appears to have always been rooted in music dating back to my early childhood listening to my parents’ vinyl albums. I started learning piano and quickly moved to guitar after I saved up enough money bailing hay one summer in high school.

I ended up winning a national songwriting competition my senior year which gave me some confidence, but I quickly learned I was naive to the business of music after a brief visit to Nashville in the early ’90s. Lacking any real mentor or direction, I joined the local fire department and used that money along with the songwriting award scholarship to put myself through college.

My days were spent studying computer engineering and my nights were spent playing my guitar & singing with my fellow firefighters in the engine bays for many years until I graduated.

Fast forward a decade or so where I was only playing guitar to put my kids to sleep at night, I had stopped writing songs, and I honestly had given up on my dream. Life changes and challenges led me back to music where it became a way for me to express my feelings as a form of therapy.

I began writing songs again in 2012 and playing the Texas country “red dirt” scenes wherever I could get a gig. Chance encounters with Mark Chesnutt and then Ty Herndon provided me with the jump-start direction I needed to take my music to Nashville.

I’ve learned the Nashville scene is ever-changing, ever-evolving, and always challenging, but wow what a ride!! I’ve found there are many faith-centered individuals who have invested in making me what I am today. I would not have the success and opportunities without the mentorship & guidance of so many! One story I love to share is my encounter with Kerry & Lynn Chater after his induction into the hall of fame at the Jose Music Awards in Tennessee.

With God’s grace & guidance, I was able to land an opportunity to get to know them both which was more valuable to me than the song we wrote together. This then led to more guidance which landed me with my current mentor, Sheree Spoltore, who continues to guide me unselfishly on this path sharing her amazing talents & wisdom.

My band… they are just amazing! Jason, Ken, & Mike do their homework and bring their best every single show!! The energy we build off each other is really what makes our show incredible in my opinion. Lastly, through it all, the wind in my sail really comes from the amazing support of my wife, Dana.

Through it all, she’s my co-pilot, life manager, and biggest fan, and every nomination, every award, and every milestone we celebrate together. We’ve gone from playing only to the bartender and waitress to standing-room-only shows through the amazing support and belief of our friends, fans, and family who support us in unbelievable ways!

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
This industry is tough, and I mean emotionally, physically, and mentally brutal at times. From comparison traps to competitive jealousy, you can lose your center of balance very quickly if you don’t protect your heart & mind.

For commercial radio, there’s a mold you need to fit, and you can find yourself chasing things that really don’t have anything to do with the music. I’ve been blessed to meet with top artists, songwriters, and publishers, and the one thing I’ve learned is everyone’s story is different, but all of their experiences are similar.

For me, I just apply every challenge, negative comment, or struggle so that I’m on the right path. “Right of passage” in many cases.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Well, like anyone trying to make it in the music business, I stay very busy with things that don’t involve music. On weekdays, I have the opportunity to fill the role of a technology leader in healthcare, and I continue to enjoy working with some incredibly bright people who are talented in their own right.

On Evenings & weekends, I’m focused on family & music. This translates into a variety of things, but I’ve been blessed to average 2 publisher meetings, 2-3 live shows, and a couple of co-writes a month so far this year. Balance this with a blended family of four kids, and well, my wife & I are very intentional with managing our calendar.

My most creative time is usually in the early morning hours, and it is common for me to start a song idea before my regular work day starts. Email, website updates, booking emails, and social post planning are usually completed during or right after I work out each morning too. My goal is to nail out two tasks a day to keep the wheels moving.

Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers who might just be starting out?
1.) If you’re an aspiring artist, perform the songs that mean something to you. Anyone can sing, but you need your heart in it to give the song the performance it deserves.

2.) If you’re an aspiring songwriter, know your lane. Are you drawn to today’s Top 40 Billboard or other types of music? The answer to this question is an important starting point as I’ve found the best songwriters are authentic in their art.

3.) Most importantly for anyone thinking about making music more than just a hobby, you’ve got to find a champion.

A champion can lead you to multiple mentors. A champion believes in you, your music, and your dream. A champion builds you when others tear you down. Stated differently, God gives everyone different talents and strengths.

Find the person who believes in you enough to share their God-given talents so you can share yours.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Dana Thompson, Pete McKinney, and Felisha Morris

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