There are many ways to describe Shy Carter. He is an in-demand songwriter, soulful vocalist and emerging country star all rolled into one.
Carter has spent the last decade in music, amassing a long list of songs cut by other artists, both in and out of country music.
His songs have been covered by Charlie Puth, Meghan Trainor, Rob Thomas, Kane Brown, Kieth Urban, Sugarland, etc. Even before acknowledging the growing list of staple country tracks he shares under his own name, his songwriting credits alone make him a formidable powerhouse in the music industry.
Add her soulful vocals and charismatic stage presence to the mix and you have a true triple threat.
Carter has been on the rise since releasing her debut EP, The rest of us, last year to rave reviews. Earlier this month, Carter had a moment to reflect on all he accomplished in his highly anticipated debut performance at the Grand Ole Opry.
A colossal moment for the singer-songwriter, he spent most of the day hanging out with his two children to soothe the nerves of the demanding day.
“They really are my heroes,” Carter told the American songwriter. “I just realized the other day that interacting with anyone in life can be difficult because there is always something going on in business or in their relationships – there are feelings that can come out But with my kids, I never feel like that. I always just feel joy.
“So it was really special for me to be able to spend time with them before dark,” he adds. “We had the camera so we were able to capture some of that and it made for a peaceful day.”
Once he finally stepped into the famous Opry circle, it was to the sound of a standing ovation and wild applause – instantly Carter began to relax into the milestone.
“I took a few breaths, got up there and it was just amazing,” he says. “It was truly magical.”
His headlining set included songs from his EP, as well as a personal rendition of his Keith Urban track, “God Whispered Your Name.” As the hallelujah chorus began to sound towards the end of the song, Carter stepped into the audience for a moment of genuine connection with her fans.
“It was a spiritual thing for me,” he says. “I was floating on cloud 9 after. I go over there and shake somebody’s hand and give them a high five and give them a hug. You know, just to be more involved with the crowd. I feel so away from the audience up there on stage. I want to be with them and have a good time.
As Nashville’s live music scene continues to rebound, following a wave of COVID-related cancellations, live shows, like her Opry debut, are all the more special for Carter.
“It’s really great to share new music and see people’s reactions,” he says. “I like to add songs that have been cut by other artists as a good showcase to let them know that I wrote the songs they love.”
Watch a behind-the-scenes video of Carter’s Opry debut below.
Carter shared The rest of us at the end of last year, bringing together a handful of songs for its biggest release yet.
While much of the EP is a classic good-time country record, Carter isn’t afraid to lend his soulful vocals to heavier themes as well. One of these songs is “Hard”. The piano ballad evokes a painful separation in Carter’s life. When asked about the inspiration behind the song, he returns the question by asking, “are you sure you want to know?”
He finally recalled, “Actually, I was also thinking about my kids in that song. My daughter was so small and my son wasn’t much older. I was going through a breakup and all I could think about was the kids and how hard it would be.
He adds, “It was me pouring out my heart about this situation. Now I feel much better. but at the time, I was just worried that we were taking the easy way out. It’s usually better to go far, you get the best reward.
Carter recently shared a live recording of the track, which carries all the emotional weight he wanted.
“I get a lot of comments from people telling me they’re going through something and the song really touches them,” he says. “I feel better when a song helps someone in whatever situation they are going through in life.”
One of the album’s lightest notes is its ode to loved ones, “Beer With My Friends,” featuring Cole Swindell and David Lee Murphy.
“The pandemic was still going on and people couldn’t come out when we wrote this song,” he says. “We just wanted to write something about reuniting with our friends, just sitting down and having a beer with someone who cares about you.”
In addition to releasing his own material, Carter has gone on to create a fair amount of cut material from other artists, including Tim McGray, Jason Derulo, Meghan Trainor, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Lopez, Nelly, and more.
When it comes to writing for other artists, Carter tends to avoid thinking too much about what another artist would want, in favor of writing something authentic for himself.
“A lot of times I sit down and write not knowing if it’s going to be for me or someone else,” he said. “You can lock yourself in if you worry too much about what another artist would want. If I know that I write for myself, I feel a little freer.
He continued, “If you’re writing with someone else, it’s fun to be able to write something from their perspective, to put myself in their shoes. I love being able to enjoy the full spectrum of songwriting.
Main photo by Cris Hollo/Grand Ole Opry