Brett Eldredge is an old soul.
The award-winning country music artist with the striking good looks and soulful baritone voice looks to classic male singers as inspiration for both his music and his personal style — Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Ray Charles among them.
“Frank influenced me more than any artist,” he said. “His music is timeless and the way he phrased things, you believe every word he said. I also learned style from him. He was the picture of confidence.”
His love of Sinatra notwithstanding, the 30-year-old Illinois native has achieved success within the country music arena since releasing his first studio album for Atlantic Nashville in 2013.
If his current single, “Wanna Be That Song,” hits the top spot on the charts, it’ll mark his sixth consecutive number-one single, joining toe-tappers such as “Don’t Ya,” “Drunk on Your Love” and “Lose My Mind.”
Eldredge was in New York recently to appear on the “Today” show and drum up interest in his latest project, “Glow,” a Christmas album that will be released this fall.
“I’ve been waiting my whole life to make this record,” he said. “I’m a Christmas freak and I feel like a kid a lot of the time. I really feel the magic of Christmas. I can be in the worst state of mind, but it makes me think of a warm family environment where everything is right in the world.”
For Eldredge, his world has been all right for a while now. He was named the New Artist of the Year by the Country Music Association in 2014 and is a fixture on country radio.
A cousin of Terry Eldredge of The Grascals, Eldredge grew up around music and, after graduating from college, moved to Nashville where he quickly put his songwriting skills to work. Some of his work was recorded by other artists including Gary Allan, and it wasn’t long before Eldredge signed his own record deal. His first two singles were moderate hits but it was his third — “Don’t Ya” — that reached number one, and he was on his way.
His first album, “Bring You Back,” peaked at number two and his second, “Illinois,” proved even more popular. “We released it a year ago and I hoped it would be as successful as the first. When it hit number one, it felt good and lifted a weight off my shoulders that I might be able to keep doing this for a long time,” Eldredge said.
He’s currently on tour with Keith Urban and at the same time is working on his next album that he hopes to release early next year.
“I’m always trying to up my game and make the next record even better,” he said.
But first up is the Christmas record, where he takes on holiday classics with a healthy dose of swing and jazz thrown in for good measure. While most of the songs will be recognizable, the title cut is a new composition that he co-wrote.
“I wanted to keep primarily to the classics that everybody loves,” he said. “There’s a reason that Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas’ has been around for 60 years. It’s hard to stand up to the classics, but I think ‘Glow’ does that.”
Eldredge, who stands over 6 feet tall with a muscular physique, is quick to admit that he’s really just a softie at heart. “I’m a mushy guy,” he said. “I’m not afraid of being soft-hearted or to cry. If I watch a romantic movie on the plane, I just let it pour out. I always like a good cry.”
It’s that sensitivity that shines through in his music and connects with fans, particularly those of the female persuasion. His appearance on the “Today” show, for example, found hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kobt swooning over him and playfully dueling over which one of them he was singing to during his performance of “Wanna Be That Song.”
Eldredge didn’t say, but he did reveal one of the other passions in his life when making the video for that song. A lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, he actually filmed the mini-movie at Wrigley Field, the first time a music video has actually been filmed at the stadium.
In the video, Eldredge uses baseball to represent the journey of life, starting with him as a young man in the stands who falls in love, marries and becomes a father. He even got to throw out the first pitch at a game in June the night the video was released.
“It was so magical,” he said. “When I found out we could do it there, I knew I wanted to explore the relationship between baseball and nostalgia. It’s an extra-special video.”
It also allowed Eldredge to do some acting. “I’ve played a lot of parts and characters over the years, and I actually think of songs in a cinematic way,” he said. “My grandfather was a huge storyteller, so maybe I got it from him. I see songs like movies that play out in my head.”
So while he would explore more opportunities to act, it wouldn’t replace music. “I would love to act if I can always do my music,” he said. “There’s something about performing in front of a camera that appeals to me. I get a high from acting and performing. I feed off everyone else’s energy.”
As Eldredge’s fame has grown, so has his personal style. “When I first started, I wore T-shirts and jeans,” he said. “My music hadn’t taken off and I was working to turn all those ‘no’s’ into ‘yes’s.’ So I started working out and got in good shape and I hired a stylist. My grandfather always said, you have to dress to impress and when you look good, you feel better and are more confident.”
So he ditched the jeans and Ts in favor of designer merchandise. “I love Burberry and Hugo Boss suits; they fit me well off the rack,” he said. “And I’m wearing a Tom Ford tuxedo on the cover of ‘Glow’.”
Eldredge is also one of the lucky artists asked to perform on “Forever Country,” a medley of three classic country songs performed by 30 current and former country music greats. The performance is part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Country Music Association awards, which will be held on Nov. 2 this year.
“I cried watching it,” he said of the accompanying video that “went crazy viral” right after its release. “I still can’t believe I got to be a part of it. I was standing in a field between Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton — very surreal.”