In Nashville, the joke is that it takes 10 years to build an overnight sensation. The joke is mostly true. Just like every rule, there are exceptions and there is fate. Enter Clark Manson, the handsome young boy from Covington, Ohio… The picture of the Heartland - wholesome, all-American and as fate would have it, the closest thing to an overnight sensation this industry has seen.
At 150 shows per year nationwide, the 25-year-old hit the ground running headlining shows as well as opening for acts like Brett Eldredge, Chase Rice, Tyler Farr, Cole Swindell, Easton Corbin, Old Dominion and more.
When Clark isn’t on stage, the ORCA Coolers Pro-Staffer brings his lyrics to life on a boat, beach or lake seeking the next adventure. With a national Jagermeister sponsorship, a good time isn’t difficult to find.
The “3 Wishes” singer’s talent speaks for itself with his newest release by hit-making producer, Luke Wooten (Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley, Chris Stapleton). Unlike many of his peers whose talents come from a long line of musicians or who are schooled at their grandpa's knee, Clark's parents educated him in music appreciation. After realizing their toddler had memorized all the words to “Achy Breaky Heart,” they began hauling their son to every local music experience possible.
“There's a really big music festival just north of where I grew up called Country Concert in Ft. Loramie, Ohio,” Clark remembers. “Every summer since I was a little kid, my parents took me up there. But when I was 5-years-old, my parents surprised me and took me to see George Strait because I was in love with him. We didn't have a lot of money, so we were in the nosebleed section.
"But ever since then I wanted to be George Strait.”
His parents continued the gift of music with a guitar for their 9-year-old. “I think they thought I'd play for a while then put it down, but I didn't,” he laughs. “I taught myself to play, and by the time I was 12-years-old I could play 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door,' and those first three-chord songs people learn.”
Clark reveals that being a singer wasn't on his agenda at first. He smiles and offers that he considered a career as a trap shooter, but he wasn’t that good. He laughs again when he confesses he wasn't a “guitar god” either.
This is where passion set in… that deep passion for music and the innate ability to turn a phrase into a work of art inspired him to continue studying his craft. While his parents encouraged a formal education and all that comes with it, they also encouraged turning this passion into a career.
He spent two years at Wittenberg University and two more at Wright State University for Business Management while continuing to practice music. Fate stepped in.
“We had a little party in our dorm room, and when the R.A. came in she said, 'I could write you up, but I'm the head of the activities department. You’ve got to play a free show at this bar to make up for it.'”
Clark became a repeat performer at the campus hangout, building a loyal fanbase and leading him to form a full band with his hometown pal Nick Christian.
Before they could process it, Clark and his friend were scheduling 150 shows per year around Ohio. The local success was the gentle kick Clark needed to send him to Nashville where he recorded a project of tunes co-written with another hometown pal, Dustin Blythe. Four months after landing in Nashville, Clark secured publishing, management and was building on an established fan base with an ever-expanding tour schedule. Not exactly overnight, but about as close as it comes.
An independent radio station added a few tracks from his debut indie album, Runnin’ With the Night, which led to a meeting with fellow Buckeye, Todd Boltin, a booking agent for Variety Attractions. As fate would have it again, Todd put Clark on the bill for Country Concert.
Clark had finally come full circle. He opened for artists like Cole Swindell, Dustin Lynch and Chase Rice during the event, setting attendance records for the side stage.
“We had 10,000 people,” he laughs in disbelief, then adds, “We just played our third year at Country Concert.”
Young and enthusiastic, he believes his sound and writing is strong and always evolving. “I'm still learning, but I’m at the point where I know who I am and what I want to be,” he says. “Our show is never the same because we feed off of the crowd. Every time I go in to write, I have them in the back of my mind.”
Relatively speaking, he's still fresh to Nashville, but his resume speaks to that of someone with years of experience. That accomplishment was demonstrated with the release of his independent debut album Runnin’ With The Night, which appeared on Billboard’s Top 5 Heatseeker Chart, while his I’m On It EP went Top 10 on iTunes Country as an independent artist. As the 2015 TouchTunes Breakout band winner, Clark’s last single “Track 9” was featured on the Spotify “New Boots” playlist, Music Row radio stations and Sirius XM The Highway.
“The stuff we're putting out now is that summertime, feel good, arena kind of sound,” he says of his new single “3 Wishes” and upcoming album.
“When you hear it, you're ready to party, you're ready to do something fun.”
Looking toward the future, he hopes to some day measure up to the standard George Strait set for country music. “He was so simple. There was nothing fancy or glittery about George Strait, he was just George Strait. So, I try to be like him in that way. His music always had a lyric with significance. It always made you feel an emotion.”
Maybe having a career like George Strait's is a lofty goal. But for Clark, whose goals seemed to be achieved before he could even set them, it is completely possible.
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