Easton Corbin a Modern-Day Standout in the Competitive Country Music Industry
Growing up on his grandparents’ farm helped to make Easton Corbin what he is today. After his parents got divorced, he went to live with his father’s mom and dad, who raised cattle in a small town in northern Florida and loved to listen to old-time country music in their spare time. So when Easton wasn’t helping out with chores on the family farm, he was learning to enjoy the sounds of historic artists like Jimmie Rodgers, Bill Monroe, and Roy Acuff.
“There’s no question that had a big impact on what I’m doing,” says Corbin, a modern-day standout in the competitive country music field. In his first decade as a recording artist, the wholesomely handsome Corbin has had repeated radio success with a series of songs that, for the most part, reflect everyday situations and real-life emotions. Musically, he leans hard toward the classic sounds his grandparents loved while adding enough contemporary flavor to please younger listeners. “For me, it’s kind of putting one foot in the traditional and one foot in the modern and bringing those two together,” he says between sessions at a studio in Nashville where he’s recording tracks for his upcoming fourth album. “You’ve got to keep it as fresh as you can.”
Corbin sings clearly in a pure country voice that more than one reviewer has compared to a young George Strait. He’s a Strait fan, too, but his own very favorite singers are the late, great, and legendary Merle Haggard, Keith Whitley, and George Jones. “And I loved Elvis, too,” he quickly adds. Now in his late 30s, Corbin started playing guitar around the age of 13, around the time he was showing livestock for the local 4-H club and getting ready to join Future Farmers of America. He feels fortunate to have gotten lessons from an older musician named Pee Wee Melton, who was an accomplished songwriter and studio musician from South Carolina with a successful career in Nashville before settling down not far from the Corbins’ farm.
Corbin studied agribusiness at the University of Florida before heading to Nashville to follow his musical dreams. He got a job at a hardware store and quickly made some key contacts, signing with Mercury Records in 2009 and recording three albums before they parted ways in 2018.
Corbin’s seven Top 10 singles since 2010 include two songs (“A Little More Country Than That” and “Roll With It”) that were on his debut album and quickly shot to No. 1. His other chartmakers include “I Can’t Love You Back,” “Lovin’ You is Fun,” “All Over the Road,” Clockwork,” “Baby Be My Love Song,” and “A Girl Like You.”
While clearly a first-rate songwriter in his own right, Corbin also has a knack for picking good songs from other writers. His 2018 single “Somebody’s Gotta Be Country” was written by Ashley Gorley, Dallas Davidson, and Rhett Akins but seems tailor-made for him. When they went to film a video for it, he says, they simply headed out of town to one of his favorite places and used props that were already in his truck. Viewers see him tossing bales of straw, singing and strumming by an open fire, slinging mud from his side-by-side, and taking target practice with a compound bow. “We went to a farm that I hunt on that’s about 45 minutes out of town,” he recalls. “I was just being me—shooting my bow, riding my Polaris, just doing the kinds of things I like to do.”
A seasoned live performer who has toured with the likes of Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, and Brad Paisley, Corbin loves to work a crowd. His six-piece backing band is versatile enough to rock hard with upbeat energy and dial it back for tender acoustic moments, such as his recent performances of a remarkable song called “Raising Humans.” Lots of country performers have had dog songs, but this one’s unique in that it is sung from a dog’s perspective. Spoiler alert: it’s a tearjerker. “Every time I play it live, I look down and see people crying. Yes, it’s about dogs, but it’s more than just a dog song—it’s about life.”
The song, which was written by Michael Smith, has helped to draw attention to some of Corbin’s favorite charities, including one called Companions for Heroes. The organization saves dogs from shelters and trains them to provide emotional support for active-duty military personnel, veterans, and first responders in need. Corbin has long been supportive of military and veterans issues in general and continues to perform private concerts at U.S. Air Force bases. His father, Dan Corbin, is an Army veteran who served in Vietnam and, like many from his era, Corbin says, does not speak much of his wartime experiences. “I think it’s important for us to support our veterans. Members of the military sacrifice so much, and their families, as well. They don’t get enough support or compensation, considering all the risks they take.”
Love of the Outdoors
Corbin was drawn to hunting and fishing from an early age, and his hometown of Trenton, Florida—about an hour’s drive to the west from the college town of Gainesville—offered plenty of opportunities. “I grew up a mile from the Suwannee River, so we did a lot of fishing—mostly for bream and bass,” he says. He also recalls a memorable elk hunting trip a few years back in Cascade, Montana, where he was a guest of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. And in 2017, he was one of a handful of country artists handpicked to perform at the gala grand opening of the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium at the Bass Pro Shops headquarters in Springfield, Missouri. (The others included Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, John Anderson, Chris Janson, and Tracy Byrd.)
Corbin says his busy schedule makes his time outdoors even more valuable to him. He says the experience itself, and not the outcome, is the ultimate reward. “Getting outdoors and experiencing nature is how I recharge my batteries,” says Corbin. “I’m surrounded by people so much of the time, so it’s nice to just get off by myself and unwind. And it’s a good time to reflect on things—and maybe even come up with a song idea.”