There was never a back-up plan for rising country artist Russell Dickerson. Even the years of traveling from show to show with minimal pay, there wasn’t any other option but music.

“Having no plan B was like the best thing that ever happened to me,” he said in a phone interview.

Growing up in the heart of Music City (Nashville, Tenn.), he couldn’t escape it. His father was the minister of music at their local church, and his mother was a pianist. Dickerson was involved with the children’s choir and took part in piano and singing lessons. This led him attending Belmont University where he earned his bachelor’s in music in 2010.

Then, he put his career into acceleration.

“I bought an SUV, my family helped me buy a trailer, and we just like drove anywhere that would pay us like 250 bucks just to get to the next show and get some Taco Bell on the way,” he said. “That was literally like from 2011 to 2015.”

And he knew all it would take was just one song to put his name out there. In 2015, Dickerson released the single “Yours,” and was an instant hit, becoming the title track to his extended play in January of 2016.

On Oct. 10, 2016, Dickerson signed with Triple Tigers, an independent record label. Nearly a year later, he extended the EP into a full album. It soared to No. 1 on Billboard’s Heat Seeker chart and peaked at No. 5 on Billboard’s Top Country Album chart.

His two singles “Yours,” and “Blue Tacoma,” (released in 2018) have both reached No. 1 on the Country Airplay chart. “Yours,” was named one of the best wedding songs in 2016 by the Knot, and it was also nominated for AMC Song of the Year in 2019. He became Spotify’s RISE artist and today, he has over 200 million streams.

“Especially after we released ‘Yours,’ I was like ‘Dude, this might be the song,’” Dickerson said. “You just got to place all your bets on yourself and just keep crushing it every day.”

He’s currently amid the “Summer Hot Tour” with Thomas Rhett, also accompanied by Dustin Lynch.

But Dickerson will make a stop at the Ellensburg Rodeo on Aug. 29 for “Rockin’ the Arena” with Whey Jennings. Jennings will open up for the first 40 minutes, and Dickerson will play for the final hour and 45 minutes — more or less.

Dickerson grew up attending rodeos with his family and has performed at a few, too. While the crowd is smaller than what he’s accustomed to, it’s a chance to build his fan base even if it’s smattering.

“A built-in crowd is a little different than me selling my own tickets, you know,” Dickerson said. “But I see this as an opportunity to win new fans over every night.”

Ellensburg Rodeo board member Kerry Clift, who’s in charge of the Gold Buckle Club and concerts, was looking to find two artists who have contrasting styles of music. Jennings, the grandson of the Waylon Jennings, brings old country, and Dickerson brings the new.

But what Clift wanted to find was someone who can captivate a crowd, and Dickerson is adept in that aspect.

“Another thing I look for in an artist to bring here is someone that’s an entertainer,” Clift said. “… And Dickerson is an entertainer. He’s got some really good songs, he’s a new guy, but he throws a party.”

Dickerson is in the process of recording his second album and says he’s about halfway through.

“Hopefully have an album out at the top of next year,” he said.

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