Guitar Center's Your Next Record with Keith Urban contest was a staggering success, receiving more than 6,000 submissions. After eight weeks of peer judging through OurStage.com, finalists were painstakingly narrowed down to 100 entries that were presented to Urban and his creative team, who hand-selected the winner. While the 100 finalist songs were all quite impressive, Brandon Green's "Love Lovin' You" stood out for numerous reasons, including its guitar hook intro, memorable chorus, and driving country-rock arrangement—all elements that often distinguish Urban's own hits. But for Urban the ultimate determining factor that influenced him to choose that song above the others was Green's passionate vocal performance.
"It was extraordinary to hear so many gifted artists submit their creations to this project," says Urban. "It was no easy task trying to narrow it down, and quite frankly I could've chosen a dozen easily. From solo singers and players to duos, trios, bands, it was amazing to hear so much great talent. But I heard something in Brandon's voice that resonated with me. He had an authentic blend of confidence and vulnerability that made me want to hear more."
If "Love Lovin' You" is any indication of what's to come, country and pop audiences will certainly be eager to hear a lot more from Green as well. Although the Your Next Record competition wasn't the first brush with success for the 25-year-old performer from Lucedale, Mississippi—Green previously reached the top 48 of the Hollywood Week phase during the seventh season of American Idol and he was the runner up along with Jonathan Cox (as the duo JB Rocket) on CMT's Can You Duet in 2009—winning Your Next Record with Keith Urban stands as his most impressive and personally satisfying achievement to date.
"Winning Guitar Center's Your Next Record with Keith Urban was cooler than being on American Idol and Can You Duet combined," says Green. "First of all, Keith Urban is my idol. I base a lot of the things I do musically on him. My music is also a combination of pop, rock, and country similar to what he does. The opportunity of working with his producer Dann Huff in the studio was another dream of mine. When Guitar Center told me that he was the producer who was going to record my tracks, I freaked out. Dann is the man when it comes to producing country music. He's like the genre's equivalent of Steven Spielberg."
As part of the first prize package, Green won the opportunity to work with Huff in a Nashville recording studio on three songs. Urban performed on one of the songs as well.
"Meeting Keith was awesome," Green recalls. "I was in the studio with Dann for three days. On the third day Keith came in to do his guitar work. There was a bunch of people in the studio when he came in, but his manager pulled Keith and me aside so we could meet in private before things got crazy. He's a great, real nice guy. I was star struck at first and didn't know what to say, but I eventually eased up and we had a nice conversation. It was one of the highlights of my life, you know?"
Another important part of the prize package was a supporting slot for one of the shows on Urban's current "Get Closer" tour. Green opened for Urban's concert in Knoxville, TN before a packed house at the Thompson-Boling Arena on August 12. In addition to opening the show, Green joined Urban and Jake Owen on stage during Keith's encore where they performed a cover of Steve Miller's "The Joker." Urban even let Green take center stage at the beginning of the song to perform the first verse and chorus. Judging from the Youtube videos and comments on Green's Twitter page, he won a lot of new fans that night.
Other prizes that Green enjoyed for winning the contest included $10,000 worth of new gear and endorsement deals from Gibson, D'Addario, Planet Waves, and Evans, as well as a $10,000 shopping spree at Guitar Center. Green put the latter to good use after he finished working in the studio with Huff.
"I bought three amps, a Mac computer, and enough gear to set up a nice little recording studio in my house," he says. "I've already used the studio to record background vocals for my new record. I didn't have time to do my background vocals with Dann and Keith in Nashville, so it was cool to have my own studio and all of the new equipment that I won from the prize package waiting for me back at home so I could finish them later. I also got a bunch of strings, straps, picks, tuner pedals, and other good stuff from D'Addario and Planet Waves, and I just ordered an ES-335, a goldtop Les Paul, and a J-45 acoustic from Gibson."
For Green, winning the Your Next Record competition has taken his already impressive career into the fast lane. He's landed bigger and better gigs, and his songs have gained attention from several major artists in addition to Urban. Although his performance schedule is busier than ever, he's also spending more time in his studio working on new songs.
"All I do is play music," he explains. "I've never had a ‘real' job. I started singing in church when I was three or four, and I played in band in middle school and high school. When I was in high school I formed my first rock band with my buddies, and after that I was always in and out of bands with friends. I now have a couple of regular gigs every Wednesday and Saturday on the Gulf Coast, and I try to fill in a couple of days of each week playing somewhere else. When it was announced that I won the Your Next Record contest I gained a lot of new fans on Facebook and Twitter, and a lot of them have come out to see me play."
Now that Green is starting to taste some significant success, he's paying it forward and trying to help out others in need. Once again he points to Urban as an inspiration. "One of the things I admire the most about Keith Urban is how he likes to help out people," he says. "He's always involved in relief shows that help out victims of disasters like the Nashville floods or the earthquake that happened in Haiti. He raised a bunch of money for Habitat for Humanity and presented the keys to a new house for them before the Knoxville show. I've always wanted to do things like that. Being a successful musician is a great way to make a good living and help out other people in as many ways as I can."
To achieve that goal Green has remained focused on his ascending career path. While Green previously earned a record deal with Valory Music as a member of JB Rocket thanks to his success in Can You Duet, the deal fell apart when the company shelved the project. Fortunately, that closed door allowed Green to compete in Guitar Center's Your Next Record contest, opening another door even wider for him.
"When I was working with Dann in the studio, I asked him what my next step should be," says Green. "Dann said that he and Keith hoped that something would come out of our work together and that they'd pass it along to their record exec friends. Hopefully a record deal might come out of it. My ultimate goal is to get a record deal and not be shelved like the last time I got signed. Having Dann Huff and Keith Urban's names on the credits of this record and having their support behind me should give me a better chance of making my ultimate goal come true."