By Kelly Baughman
Many musicians spend a lifetime trying to turn their trials and tribulations into a song they can be proud of. While many fail, despite all the odds, Erath Old has succeeded.
Born in the Birmingham outskirts of Hueytown, Old was exposed to music from day one. His father, a traveling musician, and his mother, the daughter of a preacher and avid choir singer, taught Old the basics of music at the age of 4. While he explored that passion for music as a young boy, tragedy struck in his life when his mother made the decision to leave the family behind.
Confused, heartbroken, and filed with uncertainty, Old struggled to make sense of the chaos that her absence brought to his life. “After my mom left, I didn’t think very highly of myself. I cared so much what other people thought of me, and it was a lot of pressure. I always kept telling myself I had to be better,” he said.
Old said it was his 5th grade teacher, Ms. Rheuby, who saw him struggling at school and in his family life, and offered him help. “I always needed attention and I was the class clown, but deep down I was hurting. Ms. Rheuby saw that. I told her that my dad said he would buy me my first acoustic guitar if I made all A’s and B’s, and she agreed to help me study and get my grades up. When I did, I got that guitar and learned how to play some songs. I brought it to show and tell to play for the class, and she was so proud of me. She taught me to be proud of myself and that hard work pays off. I still have that guitar to this day,” he said.
Old went on to say that he considers Ms. Rheuby one of the most influential people in his life, and that he still stays in contact with her today after all of these years. “Without her, there may have never been music for me,” he said.
At the age of 18, Old moved to the Nashville area to pursue a songwriting career, but soon found himself in Atlanta where he formed a power-pop band with his brother called Loverush, which was influenced by some of his favorite artists, such as the Goo Goo Dolls, Greenday and Cheap Trick. “We were full of angst, with long hair and loud guitars. But we got the opportunity to collaborate with the manager of music for Coca-Cola who got us some major label interest. Things were going really well, but the late nights and fast living got the best of me and I messed it up,” Old said.
His manager told him that he was talented enough for success, but he wasn’t ready to handle it and left Old and his brother to their own devices. In 2009, Old’s father fell ill and passed away, and a week later, his friend overdosed. “I knew I had to make a change or I was going to end up the same way,” he said.
Old left the music scene, but continued writing songs. “I was trying to channel my pain and find myself at the same time. I think we gain wisdom through pain, and I had to learn some humility and self-awareness,” he said.
That’s when Old said he met the woman of his dreams that would one day become his wife. In 2012, Old and his wife moved back to Birmingham where he joined a cover band for the first time and learned how to make a living just playing music….any music.
For the next six years, he played 200 shows a year. “I learned more about song craft, my voice and how to love on a crowd than I ever did with original music. I also learned a lot about life during that time. The booze, the partying, the late nights, even the pride and selfishness that grew inside of me, it got the best of me and, therefore, my relationship,” Old said about his hard partying life that ultimately led to his divorce.
Lonely, heartbroken, and in a deeper despair than ever before, Old found himself on the floor after a four day binge that left him on the brink of death. “I knew I didn’t want to live this way anymore, and I knew I needed help.” Old said that was the day he got down on his knees and gave his life to God.
“God has renewed my mind and my spirit and He has rejuvenated my since of self-worth. In fact, in only about three months into my sobriety, I started to see God working behind the scenes. I got a place in Nashville and cautiously went into the studio with a new vision and new songs, inspired by truth, honesty and the parts of life that grieve us all,” he said.
Finally capable and ready to live up to his full potential in both music and life, Old said that even after all his years in the industry, he found himself back at the beginning. “I took writing classes, I studied my favorite artists like Rod Stewart, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, CCR, Blackhawk, and many more. I found my own inner voice and came up with a collection of songs that for the first time in my life, were an authentic version of myself,” he said.
His new album, ‘Sooner or Later’, is a representation of a journey full of love, loss, pain, and redemption that mix elements of rock and country, jazz and blues. Old said of his best work to date, “These are about some of the truths in my life, some that I’d like to be able to share with you. I still have a long road ahead of me, sure. But, I have hope again and I have some joy. I pray that, through some of my stories, others can connect and find some hope and joy in their own lives.”
Old released the third single, ‘All About You’, from his new album on May 31st, and will continue to release a new song the last Friday of every month until its official release in August. You can find Erath Old’s new releases on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music, and more.
Erath Old will be performing on the Gulf Coast at the Flora-Bama June 27th through the 29th with six shows.
For more information on Erath Old or his music, visit www.erathold.com.