How it began
DEREK JOSEPH was born and raised in the rural farming community of Phelps, New York, and his love of music started at a very early age. “I’ve always loved music and was literally always listening to it one way or another! Remembering the lyrics to each song always came easy to me.” His parents encouraged their young son to further his love for music, and he began taking piano lessons at the age of eight. He later took a liking to drums and started lessons on the instrument until he discovered his voice – and that’s when Derek’s true musical journey began! From there, he moved on to performing with several successful local bands around the region. Music has no doubt been an integral part throughout Derek’s life. In fact, he hails from a musical family. “My mother always played piano when I was growing up; she was very good at it. She was also a good singer. My brother was a drummer, my sister played the flute and my dad plays guitar and sings.”
Growing up, one artist who truly impressed the budding musician was country music superstar, Garth Brooks. “I really loved how Garth took country performance from just standing and singing to running around and being animated on stage. He really gave a show and was entertaining!” Derek is also a self-proclaimed “huge” Brad Paisley fan, and he is equally as much so a fan of Jason Aldean. “The influence of my country style has come from mostly those three artists for sure.” In addition to country music, Derek also loves classic rock and 80s hair band music, and according to him, there might not be as large a gap between those genres as people might think! “I think many of today’s new country listeners who relate to that type of music are switching over to country and finding that it has some undertones of that 70s-80s rock in many of its new artists coming up. This, of course, is growing the country fan base even bigger!”
Given his early appreciation for music, it’s no surprise Derek would choose to pursue a career in music. And once Derek made the decision to give it a go as a solo artist, things fell into place very quickly for him! “I was playing locally and it seemed that more and more people were coming up to me after my shows and saying that I belong in Nashville. At first, I took that with a grain of salt. But after a few months, I decided to try and see if maybe I had a chance.” As it turns out, Derek was rewarded with a welcoming reception from Nashville. “It seemed like the stars aligned just right with things happening very fast, and then, I had a recording contract!” That contract opportunity came from Nashville-based Little House Records. The label helped Derek record and release his debut single, “No Cool Way,” which quickly found its way up the Music Row Breakout Chart, hitting the Top 75 within a few weeks! Now in the process of finishing his debut album, Derek has utilized a basic gauge when choosing songs for the project. “I like well-written music with great lyrics that tell some sort of story,” he says, “not just words fit to a melody or some basic melody built around words.” He knew he achieved his goal for the album when he had all solid songs where any one of them could be released as a single. “My whole goal for my album is to not have any ‘filler’ songs, and give people their money’s worth. I don’t want to put only two great songs on there that people want to listen to; I want an album with solid songs that make people take notice.”
Having learned a few things from his predecessors – including Garth, Brad, and Jason – Derek has refined his own stage show to be a high energy, up-tempo party! “Anyone who knows me can tell you I’m not a very serious guy! I like to have fun on stage, and I want my fans to have fun too! I want to make sure people come away from my shows feeling like they got their money’s worth, and they want to come back again and again.” His setlist is loaded with high-energy songs that make the audience want to get out of their seat and dance! Derek describes his own musical style as being country southern rock. “I love traditional country, but I love contemporary country and southern/classic rock as well. I am equally comfortable singing in any of those styles, so I try to mix them and give people what they want to hear!” One thing he is not interested in is making “cookie cutter” music. “I want to stay true to myself and the music I create.” So far, so good, Derek has opened shows for some of country’s top names, like Cole Swindell, Trace Adkins, LoCash, Chris Young, and Keith Anderson. And he has played some pretty impressive events, such as Summerfest in Milwaukee, WI (The worlds largest music festival), and several shows during CMA Fest over the years, as well as having been a house band at the world famous Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville, TN.
If you asked Derek whether he ever thought he’d really get this far, his answer is ‘no.’ Realizing that success can be fleeting in the music business, Derek is even more grateful for the success that he has already enjoyed. He admits, “I want it so bad, but so do so many other artists. There’s no rhyme or reason as to who gets noticed and who doesn’t. For some, it’s talent; for others, it’s luck of the draw; and for others still, it’s as simple as being at the right place at the right time. I thank my lucky stars that I was fortunate enough to find a record label willing to take a chance on me, that believed in me and my voice, and that felt people would want to hear my music. So far, so good! I couldn’t ask for more.” His early success has only motivated him to continue learning about the music business and creating music that he and his fans can be proud of! “EVERYTHING about what I do is about trying to be top-notch. From the music we play, to the songs we select for my album, to the quality of shirt we produce for the fans to purchase, I never want someone to feel they got short-changed!” Derek believes this philosophy also extends toward the people who are buying his music, and therefore makes sure to let each of his fans know how much he truly appreciates their support. “People tell me I’m a very likeable person and that my personality alone is going to take me a long way. I love meeting and talking to my fans! It’s not unusual for my wife and I to go out to dinner with fans or hang out with them. Like everyone else, we like to have fun. I take time with every fan that wants to talk to me.” His approachability coupled with the type of live show he gives has helped tremendously in gaining supporters as quickly as he has.
As far as the future is concerned, Derek would eventually like to be invited to perform on the Grand Ole Opry stage as well as be one of the artists featured on the Nightly Stage at a future CMA Music Festival event!
As long as he continues to create tiptop quality projects for his fans, we should be hearing a LOT more from Derek Joseph in the coming years!