American Made, Southern Raised: An Interview With Matt Williams

Matt Williams' portrait

photo courtesy of Matt Williams Facebook page

American Made, Southern Raised: An Interview With Matt Williams
| published July 23, 2015 |

By Jennifer James Thursday Review contributor

James Dean once said, “Dream as if you’ll live forever; live as if you’ll die today.” And that is what Country’s newest rebel, Matt Williams, has set out to do. Equipped with little more than a God-given talent, a few blank sheets of paper, and a zest for music, this aspiring singer-songwriter is on the brink of exploding onto the online music scene and leaving an irrevocable impact in his wake.

With a combined total of 606,200 followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, along with 34,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel, up-and-coming Country artist, Williams is quickly making a name for himself. His overnight viral successes with uploaded original songs, “The Difference” and “Long, Hard Road” have catapulted him to stardom. A cell phone video of him singing the title track to his first album, You’ll Make Her Cry has already had over 14 million hits on YouTube and Facebook. And yes, the song will make you cry.

But it takes more than popularity and charm to woo the industry these days. The artist is also expected to convert talent into an unforgettable and unique story—in addition to being charming and popular. So how does Matt Williams fit this mold? How does he stand apart from the rest? Some would say that Williams’s vocal styling rivals that of Country superstars Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton, and George Strait. Others would go on to describe how his ethereal piano melodies provide just the right balance between accord and dissonance to thoroughly captivate his audience. Many would also say it’s the uncensored, raw emotion conveyed in his lyrics that draws them in, and they would all be accurate in that assessment. But what really sets Williams apart from the rest is his ability to infuse his inspiring life story with powerful, original harmonies, leaving a lasting, relatable impact on listeners.

From the muddy riverbanks of rural southeast Alabama to the dusty roads of war-torn Afghanistan, this soulful musician has seen and endured more in his twenty-nine years of existence than most centenarians. Williams’ past is laden with personal suffering, loss, rebellion, scandal, war, betrayal, and heartbreak—enough to pull anyone below the surface in its wake. Many in Williams’ shoes might have turned to addiction, or even worse, suicide. Matt, however, chose to take a different path to cope with his demons: music. Having served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, this eight-year veteran has since traded his boots for a six string and a microphone. And his story of triumph is evermore poignantly voiced through the heartfelt lyrics of each song that he writes.

Matt currently resides in Michigan where he just finished recording his first album, You’ll Make Her Cry. With a team of extraordinary talent led by legendary producer, Bill Chrysler, Williams is now setting his sights on dominating the airwaves in hopes that his music will do more than entertain its listeners.

Thursday Review recently got the opportunity to catch up with him and let him tell his story in his own words.

Thursday Review: What is the title of your debut album?

Matt Williams: You’ll Make Her Cry

TR: Of all the songs appearing on it, which one do you relate to the most?

MW: On this album, it would have to be “Heaven and Hell.” It really speaks about my life and struggles.

TR: Which song do you enjoy performing the most?

MW: (laughing) All of them. They are songs about me and my life and I love sharing them with the world.

TR: When will your album be released? Where can it be bought?

MW: The album will be released either in August or, at the latest, September. It will be available for download online through CD Baby, Amazon, and iTunes, as well as other sites and stores.

TR: Once your album is released, how do you intend to promote it?

MW: I will be promoting it on my social media sites and radio and hope for the best. (laughing) I'm a broke musician so I can't afford the fancy promoting.

TR: What can people expect to see and hear at one of your shows?

MW: Well, expect to hear the truth, for one. As far as what you will see, I never know…(laughing) I just get out there and perform my best.

TR: How did you get to where you are now? What path did you take?

MW: I literally woke up one morning last year and said, “I’m going to try this!” So, I sat down at the piano and I wrote some songs and put them on Facebook. The next thing I knew, I went viral and my songs went worldwide in a matter of weeks. The fans made me successful this far by sharing my music and following me and they will make me successful for as long as I am in this business. A record label doesn’t make you, the fans do. That’s something that artists have forgotten these days.

TR: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How long have you been a musician/singer?

MW: Well, I grew up in south Alabama in a little place called Geneva. I guess I grew up like any other little boy would: riding bikes around town with my friends, playing baseball in the summers, getting into trouble for coming home late. Music was always a part of my life. I was self-taught on drums and piano. They just seemed to come naturally to me. Singing was always something I loved to do. I would sit and listen to my mother’s CD collection which were all classic rock albums. I would sing them over and over again in the mirror, watching myself and picturing me on a stage. Ever since then, I guess I’ve been hooked and I knew I wanted to be a singer songwriter.

TR: What is something you would want people to know about you that hasn’t previously been disclosed anywhere on social media or the internet?

MW: (laughing) Oh Lord! I don’t know. I think every aspect of my life has been open to the public so I don’t think there is anything that everyone doesn’t know. My faith is strong. My will and drive is endless and I don’t stop until I reach my goal.

TR: What three words would you use to describe yourself as a musician?

MW: Honest. Creative. Different.

TR: How old were you when you wrote your first song? What inspired it?

MW: Well, I believe I was 11 or 12. Me and my cousin, Traci, wrote a song called “Reminisce.” I’m not sure what inspired it, but I do know that the song we wrote together was very lyrically advanced for two 12 year olds.

TR: What factors/external influences impact your songwriting the most?

MW: Life is my influence for my songs. Telling stories of struggle and perseverance that are truly about me is amazing because everyone can relate to it no matter what.

TR: What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? What kind of impact do you hope your music will have on people?

MW: I want people to remember me by my music and the good I did in my life and in other people’s lives. I get emails all the time from people who tell me how much my music has helped them through hard times. That, to me, is success and to know I helped someone I’ve never met is an inspiration to me and that is what I would like to be remembered for.

TR: What other types of music do you listen to?

MW: I listen to everything—smooth Jazz is actually my favorite. Rock, Jazz, Blues, Gospel, Country…I love it all!

TR: Who is your favorite artist/ band?

MW: Hmmm…I don’t think I can honestly answer that because I really love them all. My favorite song is “No More Tears” by Ozzy Osbourne. Mainly because I love the music and how it was put together to make a truly beautiful song.

TR: Where can fans of your music go to find out more? Do you have a website?

MW: They can follow me at ,, and

TR: Are you currently involved in any charities or philanthropic endeavors? If so, what are they and how do you promote their cause?
Band of Heroes
MW: Yes, I am. I am currently part of the Band of Heroes. We are a group of combat vets who have turned to singing and songwriting to cope with our PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). What we do is raise money to help VETS get help with PTSD and Depression so that they do not resort to suicide. You can visit the website at I also contribute to St. Jude’s Children Hospital to help fund the research so they can continue to help children with cancer.

TR: What advice would you give to any aspiring musician seeking to get their foot in the door?

MW: Don’t be what everyone wants you to be. Make sure you be yourself and let the people decide what’s good and bad. Also, be very involved with your fans because they are the ones who will make you successful. Always be honest and tell real stories through music.

TR: Have you met any famous artists? Who? Were you star-struck?

MW: Yes, I’ve met many actually. Although, I can say I have never been star-struck, really. They are human just like us, the difference is they have made millions of Matt Williams' portraitdollars by singing, but money doesn’t impress me. Who impresses me are the people who can make millions of dollars and still go buy a pair of jeans at Wal-Mart because they don’t have to impress anyone; they stay humble.

TR: So far, what has been your most memorable moment on this journey?

MW: This entire journey has been the most memorable time for me. I have gone through life changes—some good, some bad, but they have made me who I am today. They made my music what it is and people have received my music in such a powerful way that it is really amazing to me.

With the love and support of his family, friends, colleagues, and his ever-growing fan base, Matt Williams remains steadfast in the pursuit of leaving his mark on the music industry. Having dominated the leader boards on for weeks at a time, it’s evident that this rebel with a cause is on the right track!

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