Profile of an Artist: Zach Bryan

Zach Bryan is currently one of the biggest names in the world country music. His influence within the past year has skyrocketed; he is now one of the most beloved names in country. After the release of his first album in 2019, Zach Bryan has put out a total of four albums since, each amassing more attention than the last. From his adolescence in a small town in Oklahoma to his rise to country superstardom, the musician has had a fascinating career. 

Zach Bryan was born on April 2, 1996 in Okinawa, Japan while his parents were stationed there as active-duty members of the military. However, he grew up in Oologah, Oklahoma, a small town with a population of only around 1,000 inhabitants. Coming from a family in which nearly all of his relatives had served in the Navy, it was only natural that Bryan would follow in their footsteps; at age 17, he enlisted into the service. He went on to serve in the Navy for eight years, taking him to places as varied as the state of Washington to Djibouti, in East Africa. However, he was honorably discharged from the Navy in 2021 due to his rising levels of fame.

Zach Bryan started posting his music on social media in 2016, but didn’t go viral until 2019, with a Youtube video of his song “Heading South”. It was a shakily recorded video of the musician singing and playing guitar in a dark field, sweating in the oppressive summer heat; there was nothing about the video that was refined or professional. Nonetheless, something about it resonated with audiences. His lack of production or spectacle only drew people in more. It was clear that, at his core, he was an authentic artist who just wanted to share his love for music. From this point forward, Zach Bryan continued to attract increasing amounts of attention leading up to his exit from the Navy to pursue music full time.

Although he is now a bona fide country superstar, Zach Bryan’s music still carries the same candor and simplicity as it always has. In “Burn, Burn, Burn”, he sings, “I’m a simple man/I don’t need much/just my simple songs/and some human touch”. He has reached unprecedented levels of fame, but remains the same down to earth, genuine soul. The artist pays homage to his Navy past in songs like “El Dorado”, honoring his friend from the military who tragically passed. Further, all of the profits from the song were donated to a foundation dedicated to preventing veteran suicide, a cause clearly near and dear to his heart. Most prominently, Zach Bryan’s music reflects his late mother, DeAnn, after whom he named a song and an album. In the song “Sweet DeAnn”, he sings candidly: “I miss having you around”. His lyrics are heart wrenchingly honest, revealing the deep love he carries for his mother and her continuing influence on him today. 

Between his birth overseas, his quiet adolescence in Oklahoma, and his eight year long stretch in the Navy, Zach Bryan has experienced life in a way that is unique compared to most other Hollywood stars. Because of this, he has remained grounded and relatable to audiences. His songs have a truthfulness and sincerity to them that can’t be manufactured. Most recently, the musician has fulfilled a lifelong dream of getting a college degree, graduating with a bachelor’s in psychology. No matter what endeavor he pursues next, it is sure to be completed with the same humility and earnestness he has carried with him thus far. 

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