NASHVILLE SINCE 2011
Though artist Chris Shrader moved to Nashville in 2011, the Pulaski, TN native has always considered Music City a second home. Now, with a second lease on life, he’s making a name for himself on lower Broadway and beyond.
Growing up, Chris was surrounded by music. His extended family all play, so family reunions would be bursting with songs. Doing odd jobs with his grandfather, who raised him, he’d constantly be listening to the radio, and his grandfather would turn it down to hear Chris sing along.
At 14, Chris was given a mandolin, which set the wheels in motion. His cousin, the first grandchild to express an interest in music, had just been given a beautiful family guitar. “I learned “Rocky Top” and we were gonna play it for the family every time they scored,” he says of their first musical foray during a family viewing of the Orange Bowl.
Though music was central to Chris’ life, he never considered it as an option. “Unless it was a family reunion or gathering, music wasn’t in my future,” he says. “I always loved it, I always listen listened, I always sang karaoke, and we had two or three family get togethers a year so I was playing two or three times a year but nothing major.”
He was working outside sales at Home Depot when his life – literally – was hit by a truck. Chris was in a major car accident while on the job, which put him in the ICU and took over 18 months of recovery. He spent four months in a wheelchair, and has had 22 surgeries since the accident in 2007.
“While I was rehabbing, there was a guitar in the house and I picked it up,” he says. “I taught myself to play the guitar off the internet. I didn’t have nothing but time on my hands.”
His recovery was just in time for the housing crisis, so he switched gears, working for an eye care group in Alabama. One day, his girlfriend brought home a newspaper ad from a man who long ago had played bass for Merle Haggard, Chris’ favorite.
Though he’d never had a formal gig and didn’t know what a demo was, the man took a chance on Chris and hired him to sing at the Sundance Saloon in Muscle Shoals. Almost immediately, he was playing four nights a week for over 400 people a night.
He eventually formed his own band and made his way to Nashville. He now has an EP, a single "K-I-S-S-I-N-G", and ongoing gigs at some of downtown Nashville’s most exciting venues, where he makes a living playing his music onstage. He plays over 200 shows a year. And as he continues to impress crowds every night, he’s got his eye towards stardom.
“You don’t quit,” he says. “If you’re breathing, you don’t quit.”
Follow him @chrisshradermusic