Derek Andrew is a paramedic by day and a singer-songwriter by night. He currently resides in Georgia but was raised in northern Tennessee on country music greats like Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson. While he was growing up, he was constantly around the genre (his parents were even in the music industry) which eventually caused him to retreat from the world of country music. At one point he even thought, “I don’t ever want to hear another country song again.”
Andrew found his way back to music thanks to the Seattle alternative rock movement, crediting Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains as influences. That led him to Christian rock music but when he left those bands, he took an eight-year hiatus from music in general. That’s when Andrew found his other calling. He became a paramedic.
Eventually, the two worlds collided when a co-worker asked him to bring his guitar to work to “play while we have some downtime.” Together they covered a couple of Top 40 songs and added the videos to YouTube. This is where Andrew found his own sound — country with a rock edge. He started to write and record his own music, using that style.
“When we go into the studio, I kind of help direct the style and how it will be played,” he explains. “I hear it in my head how I want it to sound and I stick with it.”
He knew he needed a following to do his music himself so he started to hustle on social media. “In 2015, I decided to create a music page, built a website, put social media to good use and got good feedback from it.”
That feedback was from people in the music industry. He caught their attention and eventually got booked to support big acts. He’s opened for Luke Combs, Andy Griggs, Collin Raye, Ty Herndon and will open for Phil Vassar in October. Andrew enjoys these shows and loves playing for audiences of all sizes.
“Big stage shows are great, nothing compares with [its] energy. Listening room stuff is more fun [because] it’s more intimate and is more of a one-on-one feel. [There’s] more of a connection that way.”
When he’s not playing live music, he’s working in the studio with his producer, who has produced all of his albums. His producer has a unique way of perfecting their songs.
“He’ll pace, sit at the desk, pace again, go outside and come back and say he’s got it,” Andrew says before adding, “There’s no rhyme or reason why things happen the way they happen but the process is fun, it’s interesting and I enjoy every minute of it.”
No matter how much he loves recording music, it’s not easy to release music independently. He’s had success doing it on his own, though. Twenty-five stations have picked up “Tangled,” including WSM. According to Andrew, radio play isn’t his biggest going — it’s playing shows.
“It’s not about who you know, it’s who knows you.”
Andrew can easily catch your attention and steal your heart with every lyric that he writes and sings. Take a listen to some of his tracks on Spotify below.