The band HEARTLAND is as all-American as the rich musical heritage of their native Alabama. They grew up five young high school musicians planted just down the road an hour or so from Fort Payne. It was the ‘90’s when another young band named Alabama was kicking out all the stops in country music, and in the process — influencing the fledgling music and dreams of the five young guys back down the road in Huntsville who would make their own musical history a decade later.
Born as a band in 1994, Heartland has deep creative roots in the soil of the musical influences of their native South. Playing together before they were old enough to hit the traditional regional honky tonk circuit, the band was the fortunate coming together of five Alabama guys with an energy and a passion for making music. Heartland is comprised of brothers Craig (rhythm guitar/vocals) and Todd Anderson (drums), grade school buddy Jason Albert (lead vocals), Charles Crawford (lead guitar/fiddle/vocals) and Keith West (bass guitar/vocals).
By the time they smashed onto the national charts in 2006 with their debut single “I Loved Her First”, the band’s personal path to ‘overnight sensation’ had logged thousands of miles on the road and over a decade of paying dues. “I Loved Her First” established Heartland as the first group in country music to reach #1 on the first single outing since Diamond Rio accomplished the feat 15 years earlier. It was this single that planted the Heartland flag deep into the hearts of a new generation of country music listeners.
Craig Anderson remembers the “instant flashbulbs” that came with that once-in-a- lifetime career break. “It was wild after the single hit,” he recalls. “We were literally out on the road before we even had a booking agent or real management.
With the massive overnight connectivity of the band with country radio, their first album was rushed into the hands of fans. “We had no time to write for the debut album,” notes Todd. “We picked out what we hoped was a batch of great songs, went into the studio, and within ten weeks of the single hitting, our first album titled for the single was reaching retail.”
Heartland’s debut CD zoomed to a #3 debut on the Billboard Country Music Chart. Heartland handily crossed mainstream lanes to reach an impressive #11 ranking on Billboard’s All Genre Chart.
Quickly established as a major drawing card with concert audiences, Heartland’s tour schedule took them from coast to coast. The success of the single immediately put them on the road in September 2006 opening for Brad Paisley on tour—hitting their first concert stage with him in Lake Tahoe. Onstage partnerships with Montgomery Gentry, Trace Adkins, Sugarland, Toby Keith, Deirks Bentley, and good buddy, Blake Shelton helped take Heartland’s live music to tens of thousands of country music fans.
“We’d been on the road for years, sharing the driving and pulling a trailer with all our gear, so the road was nothing new to us. The hit single has provided some pretty awesome opportunities!” notes Jason.
With a label change and a new vision for ‘what’s next’, Heartland is now proving they have what it takes to build a long term career. “We have a new single—Mustache—a surprise little up-tempo for us–coming out mid summer ‘09 and we’ll be shooting a video for the song within the next few weeks. We’re also rehearsing a new tour show. It’s a busy time for the band.”
On tap before year’s end is Heartland’s sophomore project, which the guys are excited about. We’re really stoked about working with an Alabama buddy, Paul Compton producing—he shares our vision for the band musically—and we’ve struck a really creative studio vibe on the tracks we’ve cut in Nashville.”
The band feels fortunate to be associated with manager Herbert Graham of Graham Artist Mgt. “Herb has a real ability to make things happen when he believes in an artist—and we’re grateful to have not only his belief in us, but his solid direction. He’s been a tremendous friend to the band. We’re excited and look forward to the next chapter of the book.”
Heartland is positive that the next chapter will be creatively the best. “We’ve talked about the vision we have as a band for the next year or so,” Keith enthusiastically states.
“We’re anxious to finish the new album and hit the road for concerts. We want to continue writing and recording songs we enjoy playing live. But if a year from now—at the end of the day, we’re still getting to do what we love most—being out there playing our music for our fans—we’ll be a happy batch of Alabama boys! We’re passionate about what we do. It’s simple—but it’s the truth.