But once the decision was made, Rhett – who dropped his famous father’s surname of Akins – has been determined to be the complete artist package. No frills; no coattails.
He considered some decidedly non-musical career paths, including kinesiology, before his songwriting craft landed him a publishing deal. Rhett has since written or co-written hits for Jason Aldean, Florida George Line, and Lee Brice. Now, he’s writing his own.
He signed with Big Machine label Valory Music Co. in 2011, and his full-length debut, It Goes Like This, has spawned four singles since its October release. He’s guested on other hits by Brantley Gilbert and Justin Moore.
Agent Joey Lee of WME Nashville feels Rhett is just “a single or two” away from making the leap to major market headliner, and he’s grooming the young star for a big stage of his own.
“He’s been out on the road with Toby Keith, Jason Aldean, and Brantley Gilbert; he’s out with Miranda (Lambert) this summer,” Lee told Pollstar. “And peppered throughout that, we’ve always been building markets for him with headline dates at big clubs that are sold-out, sold-out, sold-out.
“But the main focus has been putting him on the right lineup in front of a lot of people,” Lee continued. “I don’t know how much bigger you get than Aldean and Miranda, and there’s going to be a big tour next year we can’t talk about yet. It’s a good one, though, along with his own headline dates.”
There will be about 60 dates on the blockbuster tour to be named later, and Lee says he will probably book another 40 dates in between already in the chute for 2015. Lee and his team, including manager Virginia Davis of G-Major Management, reassess their development strategy for Rhett every few months, because things can always change.
One thing that’s remained constant with Rhett, though, is “his shows are exciting and fun, because he is that guy sitting out in the 10th row watching that show,” Lee said. “He is that guy. And that guy can relate to him, because he is them.”