YouTube video, Radiowv - Screenshot
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Oliver Anthony's powerful song "Rich Men North of Richmond" has gone viral and prompted country music fans and legends alike to take notice. Whether it's a matter of the song helping to exorcise the sickly zeitgeist or just resonating with Americans "living in a new world with an old soul," millions are tuning in — and country legend John Rich has reportedly volunteered to produce Anthony's record.
The young man, who has roots in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia, sings in his viral song, "I've been selling my soul / working all day / overtime hours / for bulls*** pay / so I can sit out here / and waste my life away," proceeding to note, "It's a damn shame / what the world's gotten to / for people like me / and people like you."
Anthony introduced himself on YouTube in an Aug. 7 video ahead of his song's debut on Radiowv, saying, "It's going to be the first song to get out there that's been recorded on a real microphone and a real camera and not just on my cell phone."
"Lord willing, it's going to get some traffic," said Anthony, noting the song touches in part on his time working in a factory in western North Carolina as well as on depression and the evil of child trafficking.
"This is no Dr. Phil episode," he continued. "But I found an outlet in this music. ... I started getting messages from people saying like how much the music was helping them, you know, with their struggles and their lives and that they'd been sitting on the back porch listening to me for the last hour. ... It really gave me a purpose."
Reflecting on his time working in a factory and on various job sites as well as upon his engagements with other Americans struggling to make ends meet, Anthony said that he wants to "be a voice" for people who are "sick and tired of being sick and tired."
Days before his meteoric rise, he stressed, "I don't care where you are or what you've done, where you think your life's heading — everything can change in a moment. As long as you're above the dirt, you've got a fighting chance."
Among the millions of ears Anthony's song has graced were those belonging to the founder of High Value Dad, Jason Howerton, who promptly reached out to the musician.
Howerton learned that Anthony had struggled with mental health, alcohol, and drugs in the past.
"Just about a month ago," Howerton relayed, Anthony "got to his knees & broke down in tears. Though he wasn't a religious man, that night he promised to get sober if he helped him follow his dream."
According to Howerton, "Here is a man who broke down & surrendered everything to God."
Only 30 days sober, someone apparently reached out to him and asked him to record a song for his YouTube channel. That song: "Rich Men North of Richmond."
Within hours, it had gone viral.
There's little surprise in that. Have a listen:
Oliver Anthony - Rich Men North Of Richmondyoutu.be
Anthony's song has attracted some significant attention.
Early Thursday, Howerton posted, "Hey, someone get in touch with this artist for me and tell him I will fund him to produce a studio quality album with this as the first single. He is too good to not have a better catalogue on iTunes," adding he didn't want "some asshat in a suit digging his hooks into him, would love to see him stay independent and own his music."
Tyler Cardon, CEO of Blaze Media, tweeted to Howerton, "This is so awesome. Let's get him to Dallas. I want to help blow this up."
"I offered to fly him to Dallas to be a guest on a few of our shows. The song and Oliver’s performance are just tremendous. It’s so beautiful and honest it actually hurts," Cardon told TheBlaze. "It’s resonating because he was able to capture what so many people feel. It’s a ballad for the forgotten man. I just want to help him sell a ton of records. It’s a remarkable piece of folk art that deserves to be heard."
Soon, other country fans, media professionals, and conservatives were offering to help Anthony, who joined Twitter Thursday and within hours had netted over 27,000 followers.
Doug Eldridge, the founder of DLE Agency, which specializes in marketing, offered to handle strategic media and communications for free.
Conservative commentator Matt Walsh indicated Thursday night, "If he produces an album I'll promote it on all my platforms."
Dan Bongino announced he and country music legend John Rich were "in" — meaning he would assist with distribution, while Rich would produce Anthony's record — then asked Anthony to play his song on the radio today, such that it could be heard on "over 300 stations across the country."
While kingmakers and newly minted fans spoke of record deals, promotions, and distributions, Howerton quipped, "The irony is Oliver is probably working his ass off right now and doesn't even know what's happening."
Anthony used his first tweet to express his gratitude, writing, "Rich Men North of Richmond has been uploaded to all major streaming platforms and will show up there in a few days. Im still in a state of shock at the outpouring of love I've seen in the comments, messages and emails. I'm working to respond to everyone as quickly as possible."
In his Aug. 7 video, the breakout star made clear, "Sometimes it takes falling down on your knees and getting ready to call things quits before it becomes obvious that [God is] there. But He's always there. You just gotta look out for him and listen for him."
It's a pleasure to meet youyoutu.be
This article has been updated to include comment from Blaze Media CEO Tyler Cardon.
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Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News.