BEDFORD, Ind. — “This is my mom. This is my niece Stella. Hopefully she’s cooking some breakfast right now. Are you? Okay good,” Clayton Anderson said.
He's back home in Bedford—back to where it all started.
“This used to be my bedroom. Obviously, I’m a big Indiana Hoosiers fan,” said Anderson. “This is a Bobby Knight basketball,” he said with pride.
It's been a little over ten years since Anderson catapulted from a virtually unknown singer to an up-and-comer in country music.
Now he's playing shows all over the country, spending time in L.A., writing and working on the business side of his career in Nashville.
But his voice, his music—it all comes right back here.
“I remember sitting in here just banging the time out of it trying to teach myself how to play and my sister banging on the wall cause her room was over here, saying ‘Shut up!’” Anderson said.
“I wrote my first song in the library on the top floor of Indiana University. I was supposed to be studying. I was trying to study,” he continued. “It was a little song called ‘California Sunshine.’”
It was a battle of the bands in 2008 that launched him places far beyond this bedroom and playing frat parties at IU.
Winning that competition in Cincinnati made him the opening act for Kenny Chesney.
Reminiscing, Anderson said, “Man I was so nervous. We were running around backstage and everyone was being so nice to us. Leann Rimes was walking around in a towel. She had just gotten out of the shower. I was like ‘Oh!’ I was like, ‘Hello!’”
From that stage onward, Anderson gave up on a normal job and decided to chase his boyhood dream.
But life on the road, playing shows from town to town, it never takes him too far from Bedford and family.
“There’s a song off my first record called 'What you’re missing.' It talks about my grandma’s fried chicken." His life is in the lyrics. "We sing a lot about small towns. What’s going on with, you know, the drug problems to small towns dying, factory jobs leaving.”
An Indiana boy who truly never left home.
“I think my music would definitely suffer, suffer big time, if I wasn’t from here. I don’t know what I’d do. I don’t know what I’d sing about,” he said with a smile.
Laughing, he said, “Hillbilly country music singer from Bedford, Indiana. That’ll work.”
Anderson admits he’s been really close to a big break, even a deal with Justin Timberlake, but he sees his career going nowhere but up.
He says you can expect new music this year, and we could be seeing him at the Indy 500 this May.
To this day, he still dreams of selling out Lucas Oil Stadium.