Back to the Roots of Country Music
By Heike Hellmann-Brown
Singer/songwriter Thomas Fountain is setting out to leave an impact on today’s country music. While his band is playing venues all across the South and Midwest, Fountain strives for much more than being a great performer; as a well-rounded artist he wants to steer country music back to its origins.
“Country music has gotten away from what it is about. It’s not just the natural evolvement of a music genre,” Fountain explains. “The music I grew up with is different from the songs they played in the 1950s. Yet, today’s country music is solely market-driven, full of effects, and geared toward a younger crowd. It’s more about a singer’s image than the actual song. To me, country music should be honest, meaningful. It should tell a story people can relate to.”
Ironically, music was not part of Fountain’s upbringing, although his family is very supportive of his career. “I began writing songs after I graduated from high school, and it took a lot of courage to actually perform for the first time,” the Ball Ground native notes. At age 20, Fountain founded his first cover band, “53 West.” He later got out of music and focused on sports. He has coached basketball and baseball at Woodstock Middle School, and currently is a PE teacher at Mill Creek Middle School.
In 2012, Fountain began to miss music. “I jumped back in, but this time I wanted to do it my way: write songs from the heart, share genuine experiences, and connect with my audience on a personal level,” he says. Drawing inspiration from the tunes of the 1980s and 1990s — “when country music artists were great vocalists, great writers, and great musicians,” Fountain looked for musicians who shared his vision. Today, the Thomas Fountain Band is comprised of acclaimed musicians who have played in the Grand Ole Opry, the Super Bowl, and the CMAs.
Fountain has taken his songwriting skills to Nashville, where he contracts for independent publisher Out-Write Music. While he has quickly garnered attention in the industry, he follows the advice of veteran musicians to establish a local fan base first. “In Nashville, you are one-in-a-million. Record studios are more inclined to scout concerts and back a seasoned performer than to launch a newcomer’s career.”
However, Fountain is on track to rising to stardom, having been named as “2014 Male Georgia Country Music Artist of the Year” and “Overall Artist of the Year.” He has toured six states, performed live on TV, and released his first EP that showcases his versatility. His single, “Float,” is played on 94.9 The Bull, the sixth-largest station in the nation.
How does Fountain handle his growing popularity? “I used to be known around the county as a basketball coach. Now, people stop me at a gas station to tell me how much the lyrics of ‘Daddy’s Old Billfold’ have touched them,” he says. “This genuine connection that I can make with my audience is what drives me.”