Nashville Notes

Waiting for a Bus

Since graduating from Berklee, Charlie Worsham has been building a successful career one brick at a time. For more than a year, Worsham has been signed on the Warner Music label. He recently released his debut album, Rubberband and has seen his first single “Could It Be” reach top-20 status. Given his relatively quick success, it would be easy to think that he became an overnight success. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Worsham was born and raised in Grenada, MS, approximately 100 miles south of Memphis, TN. His father was a “banker by trade, a drummer at heart” as Worsham describes him. But it was a Worsham family trip to the Grand Ole Opry that ignited the artist’s desire to be a musician. Starting out on a cheap Sears, Roebuck banjo, Worsham progressed and began playing at bluegrass festivals, local contests, and, eventually, bar bands.

In 2004, he came to Berklee to study music production and engineering. In reflecting on it, he most appreciated his Berklee experience for the interactions with other students and with faculty. “[Berklee] really is a microcosm of the music industry,” he says. “Nobody is going to come to you. You need to search out other musicians and opportunities.”

For Worsham, Nashville always seemed like a natural landing spot. While enrolled at Berklee, he began spending summers in the Music City to make connections. In 2006, after being hired as a utility man for the band KingBilly, Worsham left Berklee for Nashville with less than a semester remaining before graduation.

Other sideman gigs followed, but Worsham always envisioned himself at the front of the stage. Opportunity knocked when Arthur Buenahora, the creative director at ole, a music publisher, saw Worsham perform and approached him. Buenahora arranged a meeting between Worsham and Ryan Tyndell, a rising songwriter, and a new chapter in Worsham’s career started to unfold.

In 2010, Buenahora signed Tyndell (who would later write the hit “Springsteen” for Eric Church) and Worsham. The two were instant songwriting soul mates. As Worsham’s songwriting chops developed, so did his confidence and image as an emerging artist. By the spring of 2012, he had signed with Warner Music Nashville. Tyndell coproduced Worsham’s debut album and Buenahora was the executive producer. Worsham specifically requested Eric Masse ’07 to be the recording engineer. Worsham and Masse had met in MP&E classes at Berklee. According to Worsham, Masse is “the fourth member of the wolf pack,” whose three other members are Worsham, Buenahora, and Tyndell. The wolf pack’s efforts yielded Rubberband, Worsham’s 11-song debut, which has received rave reviews from critics and the public.

Worsham has now taken to the road to build a fan base one performance at a time. He has some great shows on the calendar—including opening slots for Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert. But Worsham is not yet riding in luxury as he tours the States. He’s quick to note that his mode of transportation is still a van crammed to the brim with music gear and suitcases. “They may give you a record deal in a few months—if you’re lucky,” he says. “But it takes years before they give you a bus.”