Tommy Brandt: Authentic Cowboy, Authentic Christian

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Tommy Brandt Broken Nuff Said

In a genre where artists are all too frequently "all hat and no cattle," Tommy Brandt is the genuine article. I found Brandt's music while channel surfing and landing on something called Cowboy Church, where Brandt was singing his latest song, "Broken." The message was universal, the lyrics were unique, and the musicianship harkened back to a time when country music was easily identifiable as such, not a shade off from pop.

We sat down for a phone conversatin with Brandt about his music, his future and his faith.


What is it that drives you to do what you do? How did you get the calling and recognize that this is what you were supposed to be doing?

Well, it was a slow process. I actually grew up in country music, and had a different motive, although music has always been the driving factor. I've always known that music inspires people. Unfortunately, back in the day, it would inspire them to drink, drug, and carry on, and that was what I was all for. And then once I found Christ -- I got saved when I was 24 years old, but didn't start living for Christ until I was about 33 when I met Michelle -- and that's when I figured out that I could take music and use it to inspire people for Christ. So music has always been the driving factor, it just changed directions once I found Christ.

We first saw you on a cable show called "Cowboy Church." Are you affiliated with that, and if so can you tell us what that is? How does it differ from, say, Southern Baptist?

There's Cowboy Churches all over the country. There's around 1800 of them out right now, and they are all made up differently, just like any other kind of church. There's Baptist-sponsored Cowboy Churches, there's Pentecostal Cowboy Churches, there's non-denominational.

We do a lot of Cowboy Churches as we travel around, because my country styling of music fits in so well. I grew up on a cattle ranch and around rodeos, so whenever somebody needs a cowboy speaker or a cowboy singer, we usually get a phone call.

Country music today isn't really the country it used to be, and your style really pulls from the traditional "country and western" sound. Who were your influences when you were growing up in country music?

You're exactly right. You know, everything evolves, sometimes for the best, sometimes for the worst. I grew up on the Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Waylon Jennings. I guess once I started singing -- I didn't actually start singing until I was in my mid-twenties -- it was when Garth Brooks was kind of hot. And watching him entertain and perform, kind of as the whole package, really inspired me more than any other artist, as the way he communicates with his audience so well. It really inspired me. I still use a lot of his techniques, even though I do gospel music now, to communicate with the audience.

It seems that many of the songs from NUFF SAID are drawn from personal experience. Is there a specific song on that album, or in the rest of your catalog that you could point to and say, "That song there. That one is me."

You know, probably my recent song, "Broken." Even though I only wrote it a year or so back, it really paints a great picture of my life. The video really portrays me growing up; if there was trouble to get into, I got into it--and a lot of times, purposely. Even though I had the opportunity to have a better life, I chose the wrong paths and just wound up totally in a broken state. And it was all self-inflicted. I really can't complain that it was anybody's fault but my own. But it really took that broken state for me to find Christ in my life, to find a higher power. Once I tried everything in my own power to make it work and failed miserably, I realized that I needed Christ. Therefore, the brokenness in my life, even though it hurt tremendousy, was the greatest thing that ever happened to me.

It's interesting that you bring up that particular song. When I went to research you before the interview, the first thing the search sites automatically prompt for with your name involves "Broken" -- lyric, guitar tabs, video. It seems like you're getting a very good fan response to this one.

It is. It's been one of our bigger songs. We've got another song, "Meanwhile, Back at the Cross," that we put out last year that did really well. It seems like the video stuff has helped tremendously. We didn't start doing videos seriously until the "Broken" video, our first high-quality concept video. With "Meanwhile, Back at the Cross," I had a performance that I did on live television that was really a really good taping of it, and it picked up a lot of response. It seems like the visual aspect of things helps people connect a lot better than just the audio aspect.

Are you getting much in the way of radio rotation?

We do. Everything that I put out, as far as integrational country or Christian country radio -- I think I've had 18 now that I've released, and all 18 have went to number one. Which is probably a rarity. I haven't really checked the stats or anything. I don't know that anybody else has done that. Not that I brag about it. I'm not worth nothing without Him, but the music's really gotten a lot of good airplay and featured a lot in different areas that's opened up a lot of doors. So I'm excited that people get the music that most of them are, like you say, our life stories. They're stuff that really touches me and mean something to me, and I think I spin a song a little better because of it.

Why are you a Christian?

Well, I don't have much of a choice. I honestly believe I would be dead if I wasn't a Christian. When I received Christ I was 33 years old, when I totally committed my life to Him, I'd been amost two years living out of the back of my pickup, struggling from one day to the next, on drugs, drinking. I totally had messed my life up. I know that without Him, I was absolutely nothing--I might as well have been dead, I was worth that much. And with Him, I can do anything, and I know that Scripture tells us that, but I'm living proof that with Christ all things are possible. He continues to show me, day after day--even your interview, right here and now, proves to me that God can do anything with a wretch like me. And I'm just honored to be of service to Him, and let folks know that He is the only way.


For more about Tommy Brandt, visit his webpage, TommyBrandt.org. And check out our review of his latest album, NUFF SAID.