It takes a special kind of bravery—or craziness—to debut in the middle of a global pandemic. But country singer Chris Bandi has both in spades.
The singer released his self-titled debut EP in May 2020. Now, he’s shipped his new single, “Would Have Love Her,” to country radio.
Bandi is one of Nashville’s most promising new stars. But he also may be one of its hardest-working. Bandi built a performance schedule like a seasoned veteran before he even signed to RECORDS Nashville in 2019. So, when Bandi got the chance to create an EP, he took it, pandemic or no pandemic.
“I know that there are people in Nashville who are better songwriters than I am. And I know there are people in Nashville who are better singers than me,” says Bandi to Outsider. “I try to live by the mantra that no one will outwork me.”
Searching For That Nashville Dream
Chris Bandi’s self-titled EP features seven songs. It’s his big introduction to Nashville and the country music world. But Bandi has been hard at work for more than a decade.
Chris went from being a local celebrity in Oxford, Mississippi, to a city that didn’t know or care about him. The country singer built a following for himself around the University of Mississippi by playing open mics and bars, almost every day of the week.
After moving to Music City in 2013, Bandi quickly realized he was in a new league.
“To me, it was just starting over. I was kind of a big fish in a small pond when I was in Oxford,” Bandi says. “When I moved up to Nashville, no one cared at all what I did in Oxford. I was starting from square one. Dreams take time. If I had just given myself one year, I wouldn’t have seen the positives that I’m seeing now.”
Bandi arrived in Nashville with 100 original songs and a dream. He spent that first year living on an air mattress in his friend’s closet. He earned just enough money playing gigs to pay rent and buy Ramen noodles.
But Bandi never had a Plan B. So he started doing what he knew best—playing music. The country singer performed at venues Thursday through Sunday. And then he worked on new material the rest of the week.
Chris Bandi Debuts
Back in 2017, he released “Man Enough Now” on Spotify. Bandi kicked off 2020 with a music video for the track, with big plans for the year. For one, he made his debut on the Grand Ole Opry.
“I’m not the type to sit around and wait. The timing wasn’t the best,” Bandi says of releasing his debut EP. “But I’m so lucky I have a team behind me that made sure every ‘i’ was dotted and every ‘t’ was crossed in releasing this. I’m thankful I get to call music a job and a profession.”
Bandi’s debut project features four tracks that the country singer co-wrote himself, including “Would Have Loved Her.” The track is a mournful and tender ode to his late grandfather. Bandi’s grandfather passed away six months before Bandi met his girlfriend. The artist wished that the two could have met each other.
“As a songwriter, all you want to do is have people connect to your music,” Chris says. “The fact that this is connecting with people is more than I could ever ask for.”
Flying By the Seat of His Pants
Garth Brooks literally flying by the seat of his pants inspired a young Chris Bandi to pursue music. He was five years old watching Brooks, attached to a harness, sail over the crowd at one of Brooks’ packed-out shows. A young Bandi knew exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up. I want to be Garth Brooks.
But Bandi spent the next two decades learning how to be Chris Bandi instead.
Bandi’s musical influences are vast. There’s a bit of that old-school ’90s country like Randy Travis or Alan Jackson in his songs. If you listen to his music closely, you can hear all those car rides jamming out to Matchbox Twenty, Bruce Springsteen, and Kenny Chesney.
But Bandi’s music is also wholly his own. His songs feel like stories he’s telling his best friend. But they could also be about anyone in the crowd. Bandi will hit the road in May for a handful of tour dates with Matt Stell.
“My one stipulation on what we write day in and day out is it has to be true to me,” Bandi says. “Country is just being true to yourself. I just try to go in and write the best song I can that day and hope everybody likes it.”