Michael Hardy was born and raised in Philadelphia, Mississippi, a town with a population of 7,500. His country roots run deep and true, and his music serves as a proud nod to the sights and sounds that have made him the candid singer-songwriter he is today.
Growing up in Mississippi, his family owned a chicken farm near their home. Hardy was engulfed by the sounds of classic rock on the way to work with his dad. Daily car rides and jam sessions with his father led to a lifelong infatuation with music, especially its ability to affect people on an individual level; Hardy knew this feeling firsthand.
He and his father saw Aerosmith perform in Birmingham in 1999, and KISS in Jackson the following year. The pure grit and power the bands embodied on stage was phenomenally electric, and inspired Hardy to give songwriting a try. Today he looks back on his first attempt at songwriting “Caroline,” with a laugh, acknowledging how far he’s come as an artist.
“It was just so simple and not thought out. There were little holes in the storyline. It’s interesting to think about it looking back now.”
Hardy attributes his style to experiences throughout his life. From the raw sounds of the classic rock in the car with his father, to the authenticity of living a country lifestyle. However, Hardy’s first visit to Nashville was a pivotal moment in his life. His sister was attending school in Tennessee, so he ventured to the legendary music hub to visit her and was pleasantly surprised.
“Music was everywhere – I had no idea. When I found out about publishing deals and that you could make a living writing songs. That was over one weekend, so when I went back home, I told my mom, ‘Hey, I’m moving to Nashville.”
Hardy packed his bags and began school at Middle Tennessee State University. He was introduced to Rick Carnes, a composer who had a wealth of knowledge and experience in working with musicians such as Garth Brooks, The Whites, and Reba McEntire. The two had an instant connection and Carnes enthusiastically stepped into the role of Hardy’s mentor as Hardy worked to complete a degree in songwriting. In January of 2017, he was invited to become a writing partner with one of the most eminent bands in the country music scene today: Florida Georgia Line (FGL). During their time together, Hardy co-wrote their hits “Simple” and “Talk You Out of It.” He also collaborated with FGL and Morgan Wallen to write “Up Down.” The rock-infused country track was met with enormous success, working its way up to become a #1 platinum-selling country single.
FGL’s Tyler Hubbard and the band’s producer, Joey Moi, agreed that “there was a place for Hardy’s talent in the marketplace” and offered to help him. With the eager support of his friends and colleagues, Hardy was brought on stage on three separate occasions while touring with Florida Georgia Line to perform Wallen’s part in “Up Down.” Hardy was instantly enamored with the prospect of performing, citing the audience as an impactful component of music.
“Playing those places and those people singing back to you, that whole thing put it in perspective. That is an incredible feeling. It’s just unexplainable.”
His genuine love for writing, playing, and performing is contagious and continues to be heard throughout musical endeavors of his own. In 2018, Hardy signed to Big Loud Records and released his debut four-track EP This Ole Boy the same year. Featuring songs like “Throwback” and “Rednecker,” Hardy delves deep into his country roots, exploring themes of mud-painted pickup trucks and sweat-doused blue collars. The title track, “This Ole Boy,” describes a country type of love and exemplifies the no-nonsense, small-town grit that grounds Hardy’s artistic style.
“I’m not really a love song dude. If I’m going down that road, it’s a song like ‘This Ole Boy’ where it’s a redneck-in-love kind of thing. People that are like me, or people who still live in small towns, still love that and want to hear that. That’s why I’m who I am as an artist.”
He followed This Ole Boy with another four-track EP in 2019. Hardy’s latest solo release, Where to Find Me, is chalk-full of songs that further establish his identity as a genuine, tell-it-like-it-is artist. His second EP sounds more sentimentally heartfelt than the first, but he continues to demonstrate his loyalty to his country style with lyrics like “I’ll quit loving you when country roads don’t wind and curve/when cold beer don’t quench your thirst/when there ain’t an “Amen” in church. . .” He’s influenced by his experiences growing up in Mississippi, in all its homegrown charm. He remembers the classic rock that played so often throughout his childhood, and to this day cites its complexity as a large influence on his sound.
“I like Pink Floyd a lot. They’re my favorite band. Thanks to my dad, I loved The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon growing up, and once I got older, I realized how metaphorical and parallel their writing is, and how you understand it. I really appreciate, in all genres, creativity that sonically nobody has ever heard before.”
Hardy thrives in the intersection of individuality and experience. His music is unique and fuses together his own personal flair with the sights and sounds he has encountered throughout his life. His latest single is no exception. Hardy collaborates again with Florida Georgia Line on his latest single, “Y’all Boys.” The fiery track is reminiscent of “Rednecker” in that it is an untamed homage to the drawl-talking, weekend-fishing, boot-wearing country lifestyle with which he is so familiar.
Enter to win now for a chance to see an unapologetically authentic performance by Hardy live on our very own Napa Valley stage at Live In The Vineyard Goes Country!