Later this month, Charles Kelley’s career will come full circle as he embarks on his first solo tour. The Lady Antebellum singer is trading sold-out stadiums and multi-artist festivals for smaller clubs and theaters as he introduces new music, harkening back to the days before his superstar trio had platinum albums, seven Grammys and worldwide fame.
“It’s gonna be fun to watch the fans hear a song they haven’t heard before, because the project won’t come out until early next year,” Kelley tells Rolling Stone Country. “So I go out there almost like we did with Lady Antebellum, with just one single on the radio, and have to prove myself. I miss that. It’s weird to say that. You get so used to screaming and everybody knowing all the songs, and there’s something really fun about taking you out of your comfort zone. . . I’m excited for it.”
Kelley will be taking country newcomer Maren Morris out as his opening act. “She has the perfect sound that will fit in with what we’re doing,” he says. The future tourmates gave a little preview of their upcoming concerts at this week’s Rolling Stone Country Live Nashville event, powered by Ram. Both played tunes from their first major-label solo projects — Kelley’s upcoming album, due sometime next year, and a self-titled EP for Morris that was released today.
Filmed at our jam-packed event, the video above includes Kelley performing his soaring first solo single, “The Driver” alongside his co-writers on the tune, Eric Paslay and Abe Stoklasa. It also gives a taste of the piano-driven power ballad, “Leaving Nashville,” which is highlighted by the Georgia native’s spine-tingling, sky-high vocal range. And picking up the tempo is the soulful, groove-fueled “Lonely Girl,” which was co-written with Chris Stapleton.
Morris’ clips in our video include her first single, as well — the catchy confessional, “My Church.” The petite singer with the big voice also proved somewhat of a country Kelly Clarkson with the empowering “Second Wind” and sassy, rock-infused “80s Mercedes.” (She’s actually written a song for Clarkson, along with Tim McGraw and several others.)