Making music for and of the people: Oliver Anthony

Making music for and of the people: Oliver Anthony

By Amber Otto for Country Music News International Magazine

 

Do you ever just want to scream and shout, “I’ve been sellin’ my soul, workin’ all day, overtime hours for bulls** pay?” or thought, “I wish politicians would look out for minors and not just minors on an island somewhere?” Well if those very real, raw words and thoughts have ever crossed your mind, then you certainly have a friend in Christopher Anthony Lunsford better known as Oliver Anthony, when performing his soul searing serenade, “The Rich Men North of Richmond.”

With his bright red locks, mountain man like beard, and his fingers strumming his and everyone else’s pain on his resonator guitar, Anthony stands apart from the crowd. Though he does, there is also something so comforting, relatable and simple about him that people have resonated with. Since the video release of “The Rich Men North of Richmond,” via YouTube on August 8th 2023, not only has the song went viral, but Anthony is now named the first singer-songwriter to make his debut at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 without any prior hits on the charts to solidify his position. If that isn’t enough for listeners to fathom, the song went to number one on the U.S. iTunes all-genres chart within days of its release, and number one on the Spotify U.S. and Apple Music charts a few days thereafter.

His mass appeal that has come about rather quickly has a reminiscent tone to that of Willis Alan Ramsey in that after listening to his punchy lyrics and raspy, gravelly voice you will surely say, “You’ve have to listen to this guy.” Many artists that come onto the scene in a profound way like that of Anthony (though one may say his entrance has been the most profound), conventionally sign with a label and announce their debut album and begin touring. But not for Anthony. He is not only an artist of the people but does music and all facets surrounding it, on his own terms. Within days of his prolific song reaching number one spots on several music charts and getting millions of views and likes on social media platforms, Anthony got an offer from country singer-songwriter John Rich previously from the group Lonestar, to produce his first album. While normally an offer of this nature would be a no brainer, Oliver again defied the odds and turned down the offer and others alike that were speculated to be eight million dollars in price. Anthony himself stated, “People in the music industry give me blank stares when I brush off 8 million dollar offers. I don’t want six tour buses, fifteen tractor trailers and a jet. I don’t want to play stadium shows, I don’t want to be in the spotlight (“Oliver Anthony Responds to Success, Says He Has $8 Million Offers,” by Chris Williams Aug. 17th 2023; variety.com).”

After being acclaimed as the artist for and of the people, he truly lives up to that title. For now, Anthony as well as fellow band members are “taking things slow” at this point in time when navigating their new found music success and all of the red tape that comes along with it. Since the record deal turn down, Anthony has yet again put his country-folk, barefoot down and refused to play at the Cotton Eyed Joe in Knoxville, Tennessee, due to high ticket prices. The Farmville Virginia native stated, “Cotton Eyed Joe has been cancelled. Ultimately, it’s my fault for not being more directly involved with the venues who have reached out. My plate has been full, and I delegated the responsibility to someone else to help me book.  I am not pointing fingers at Cotton Eyed Joe, I don’t know where the miscommunication took place. I’m just upset seeing those prices. We will find another place in Knoxville area that can do $25 ticket and free meet and greet. I will work to get your tickets refunded from my own budget if they can’t. This will never happen again. Thanks for your patience. I am still learning how all of this works (“Oliver Anthony cancels Cotton Eyed Joe concert over high ticket prices,” by Naledi Ushe Sept. 12th 2023; USA TODAY).” Other performances where Anthony definitely brought the crowd before and after Cotton Eyed Joe was the Morris Farm Market in Carrituck County North Carolina on August 13th, and the Blue Ridge Rock Festival in Alton Virginia on Sept. 7th-10th 2023.

Besides keeping his intentions clear on what his goals for how he wants to continue on with music (independently) and giving those who listen nothing short of what they deserve, he also made it clear cut and dry what his chart-topping song was about and who it was written for during the casting of a YouTube video. Anthony stated, “Ya know like it was funny seeing my song in the, it was funny seeing it at the presidential debate cause it’s like I wrote that song about those people. Ya know? So, for them to have to sit there and listen to that, uh that cracks me up (laughs after comment).” “But it was funny kind of seeing the response to it like that song has nothing to do with Joe Biden, Ya know? It’s a lot bigger than Joe Biden. Um that song is written about the people on that stage and a lot more too not just them, but definitely them.”

If you were unable to catch the blue eyed, fiery country man of truth at previously listed performances above, be sure to try to catch him if in or around these areas: Alley Fest on Oct. 6th 2023 in Paintesville Kentucky, Appalachia meets the Ozarks on Oct. 7th 2023 in Mineral Point Missouri, and at the Marion Event center on Oct. 11th 2023 in Marion North Carolina. The country-folk singer-songwriter stated, “We are working on a full lineup of shows with bigger accommodations in the near future (“Oliver Anthony Responds to Success, Says He Has $8 Million Offers,” by Chris Williams Aug. 17th 2023; variety.com).” To get a complete listing of all of his events, news, music and more visit http://oliveranthonymusic.com.

 

 

 

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