Austin Burke continues to be an artist to watch in 2020. However, Burke has been on my radar since I discovered his music in 2018 after hearing “Whole Lot in Love” through a Spotify recommendation. Undiscovered Nashville did not even exist at the time, but I was a fan. Since our launch, we have promoted Burke’s music every chance we get, including in our CMA review last year. Austin’s performance on the Chevy Breakout Stage was one of the highlights for CMA Week 2019 for Undiscovered Nashville. Undiscovered Nashville was excited to sit down with Austin Burke to talk about his music, life, and journey in Nashville.
Austin Burke’s Path to the Music City
Moving to Nashville was not a certainty for Austin Burke, even though he has been singing since he was three years old. The singer-songwriter said, “I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, singing at rodeos and all around the desert, wherever I could play a show. The Parada del Sol was the first place I sang in Arizona, and at three years old, I sang the national anthem. Then it became this story; there is this three-year-old that can sing. I began singing for the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Coyotes. Rosie O’Donnell caught on and wanted me to come on her show.”
Austin Burke began writing songs when he was in high school, and what started his writing is similar to other songwriters. Burke said, “When I was fourteen, my family moved to San Diego. I had just gotten a guitar from my dad’s friend, but I never played it much. Eventually, I started playing in church, learning some basic chords. In San Diego, I went to a rough school, and I was bullied pretty badly. That’s when I started writing songs. I would work out my emotions in the songs, but I only knew four chords, so they sounded the same.”
The Decision to Chase His Dreams in Nashville
Burke spent his early years singing, but at one point, he would quit music before packing his car and moving to Music City. Austin remembered the moment he decided to move to Nashville. Burke said, “I was playing baseball in college. I was a left-handed pitcher, and it was boring to sit in the outfield and shag balls all day. I remember thinking, this is not what I want to do. During winter break, I was eating Stouffer’s Mac & Cheese and Top Ramen. One night I picked up my guitar and started playing some songs. I had a feeling that I had not felt in a long time. I wasn’t good at singing or playing, but I knew by the way it made me feel, it was something I needed to pursue. So I packed my car and moved to Nashville.”
To what does Austin Burke attribute his success so far?
Austin Burke started in Nashville like most singer-songwriters who move here. He was trying to find his way. The singer-songwriter said, “Looking back on my journey, being nineteen and naive was good. I had never even been to Nashville or the South before. I think you have to be a little naive and brave to make your path. When I look back, it’s crazy how many things had to fall in place for me to be where I am now. It takes talent, hard work, and a little luck.”
Burke released his first single, “Sleeping Around,” in 2016, after being in town for four years. Burke said, “After I released Sleeping Around, they started playing it on the Spotify Hot Country playlist as well as Sirius XM The Highway.” In 2017, he released a self-titled EP that featured “Whole Lot in Love.” Burke said, “I put out an EP and didn’t have any expectations or know what was going to happen. I was trying to figure out who I was as an artist. It had some country songs, some pop songs, a little bit of everything. The song that stuck was “Whole Lot in Love.”
“Whole Lot in Love” would catch on after several months. Austin said, “They started playing it on Sirius XM, and it ended up becoming one of the biggest songs of the year on Spotify in 2018. That song propelled everything for me. I ended up signing with William Morris, who started booking me shows. It has led to everything in my career that I have now. Austin Burke signed a publishing deal last year with HomeTeam, a company Thomas Rhett and Rhett Akins helped found.
Austin Burke as a Songwriter
From the beginnings as a teenager, Burke’s songwriting has only improved. He is not afraid to push himself when he is in a co-write. Burke said, “When I moved to Nashville, I had so many songs. I think most people can relate, but I had all these songs only to be told they sucked. It’s important to remember it is a process. No matter who you are writing with, it’s fun. I believe it’s important to push yourself in a write. Don’t be afraid to say something different or be different.
The songs the people like are not always the ones the songwriter likes the most. Songs the writer loves, the people may hate. Austin talked a lot of about “Whole Lot in Love.” Burked discussed the inspiration for that song. The singer-songwriter said, “I wrote it as if it were the first time I was telling a girl I loved her, but it was the first song I had ever written for my wife, Lexi.
Burke continued, “It’s cool how far it has gone. It’s crazy since I wrote it so long ago, I’ve been trying to write a song that compares. I have realized that song is going to be an incredible part of my career and my journey. The thing that makes that song so special was how real I was when writing it. Burke’s writing of late is to solidify his sound. Austin said, “Since I signed my publishing deal, I started writing every day. I wrote as much as I could to get all the songs together I wanted to have, and I feel like I have found my sound and the direction I want to take my music.”
Special Moments for Austin Burke
During CMA week in 2019, I saw Austin play the Chevy Breakout stage before lightning cut his set short. Burke describes why this was special, “When I moved to town, I worked a restaurant downtown, and for so many years, that stage was in front of the restaurant where I worked. I would look out the window and say I hope to play that stage one day and be a part of it. It was a special moment for me, as well as my brother, who was working a the restaurant with me. He got to see me play CMA Fest as well.”
Burke has become an avid golfer, but playing golf opened an opportunity for him. The singer-songwriter said, “I got to play The Ryman is some ways because of golf. I played in Vince Gill’s golf tournament at the Golf Club of Tennessee, and he forgot to have me play at that event. Vince called me to invite me to play with him at The Ryman. It was me, Vince, and Reba.”
Playing the Ryman and the Opry are significant achievements in the life of an artist. Burke explained, Playing the Ryman was a great experience, and the only thing that tops it was playing the Opry last year. Vince Gill called to tell me they wanted me to play. It solidified my place in country music. It truly was a special moment.”
Austin Burke Embraced Releasing Music in 2020
2020 is a time of uncertainty for so many artists and singer-songwriters. Due to the pandemic, some artists have held back releasing music without being able to tour to support their music. However, Burke’s team embraced it. Austin said, “The plan coming into the year was to release a lot of music. It was a tough decision, but I knew I worked so hard last year writing these songs. It was time to put them out.”
Burke’s first release of 2020 was “Desert Child.” Burke said, “This was the first song in the new direction. I wanted to write a song being from Arizona and the West coast and pay tribute to some West coast towns.” In May, Austin released “I Grew Up.” The singer-songwriter said, “This was a song that was throwing shade on an ex. It was an in-between release because we felt “Young Love” would be big for me. We didn’t have any expectations, but it’s been doing great.”
Austin Burke Releases “Young Love”
Each song Austin Burke has released this year has been tremendous, but “Young Love” is a first for the singer-songwriter. “Young Love” is the first song Burke has put out that he wasn’t the writer or co-writer. “Young Love” was written by an all-star team: Thomas Rhett, Ashley Gorley, Zach Crowell, and Brandon Day. Thomas Rhett and Brandon Day also produced the single.
Burke described his connection to the song. Austin said, “Thomas Rhett sent me this last year, and I immediately fell in love with it. It’s where I am in my life. I am in a young love, a new marriage, and it just felt right for me. I feel lucky to have put my name on this song and have Thomas be a part of it. There are incredible writers attached to this, add up all the number ones between those guys. I am excited to see what happens with this song, but it takes time for a song to catch fire. However, it’s fun to see the journey a song takes. It has big days and small days.”
Balancing Marriage and a Career in Music
In a typical year, a recording artist will be on the road playing shows where they can. As you can imagine balancing career and home life can be tricky. However, Austin Burke wouldn’t have it any other way. Burke said, “Lexy and I have been together since I moved to Nashville, through all the ups and downs. We dated for six years. I think it is important to keep each other first. We have tried so many things in our careers, but we always put each other first.”
Burke continued, “Lexy is a videographer, so our careers complement each other. Especially during these times, it is important to cling to each other. If I have a bad day, she is the first person to pick me up, and I hope to do the same for her. It has been awesome to have her be a part of this journey, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Some people in town may feel like a relationship is a distraction, but she is the opposite of a distraction. I need her to survive this town.”
Fun and Heartwarming Facts about Austin Burke
Fans are always curious to know who their favorite singers are off stage. Austin shared a few things with us. Burke said, “I play a lot of golf. I am not funny, but I think I am. My wife has a series on her TikTok called “Not Even Dad Jokes” with me. As much as I love going out, there’s nothing more I like more than hanging out at home with my wife and my dogs. I don’t love anything more than my wife, but behind her are my dogs.”
Attention bachelorettes! Burke said, “Another thing people might not know about me is I own a pink bachelorette house that we rent as an Air BNB. We used all of our wedding money to turn this house of ours into a bachelorette dream house. It’s the craziest thing I have done, but they seem to love it.”
If you have not yet gotten on the Austin Burke train, give his music a listen. Give Austin a follow on social media and look for more music coming from the singer-songwriter this year. Listen to “Young Love” on Apple Music, Spotify, or wherever you get your music.