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Homegrown Success

Up close and personal with country crooner Cole Swindell.

Head to Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood July 25-26 to see Cole Swindell live with Luke Bryan and Lee Brice.

Bronwood, Ga., native and country singer Cole Swindell has gone from selling merchandise for fellow Sigma Chi brother Luke Bryan to opening up for him on his That’s My Kind of Night tour. The 30-year-old Georgia Southern University grad has established himself as a hitmaker, penning top tunes such as Bryan’s “Beer
in the Headlights” and “Love in a College Town,” among others; Craig Campbell’s “Outta My Head”; Thomas Rhett’s “Get Me Some of That”; and Florida Georgia Line’s “This Is How We Roll,” a smash he co-wrote. Fresh off his self-titled debut album and his chart climber “Chillin’ It,” JEZ caught up with the rising crooner to talk touring with Bryan, run-ins with Tim McGraw and more. @coleswindell 

You’re a Georgia boy through and through. Tell us about your Southern roots.
My music career started in the Statesboro bars like RumRunners and Locos [Grill & Pub]. My favorite spot to hang out and eat was always Dingus Magee’s. I always stop by that little corner bar to say hello when I’m back in town.

Now you’re touring the country with fellow GSU alum Luke Bryan. What’s that like for you?
It’s like waking up in the middle of a crazy, awesome dream, except it’s real! You have to get your foot
in the door somehow, and for me, that was selling merch for Luke. Now I’m out here on the road with my best friends and my own merchandise! If we didn’t have proof of it, it’d sound like some story I made up.

Anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
There’s a bunch of country artists I could name, but if we’re talking other genres, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry and Rob Thomas, to name a few.

What’s the ride to the top been like for you?
I thought signing my record deal was my I’ve-made-it moment, but my first Academy of Country Music Awards experience may top that. I was walking down the hall backstage, and there stands Tim McGraw. ... I’m telling myself, ‘You gotta say hey. ... You have to. ... One of your biggest influences is right there.’ Before I could, McGraw reaches out his hand and says, ‘Hey, Cole. I’m a big fan of your music.’ If there was a picture to go with the definition of starstruck, it would be me in that hallway in Vegas.