So Fit to be a Star
Following a string of hits that put him on country music’s radar, artist Russel Dickerson shares how he’s taken to life on the road and stayed fit in the process.
You probably wouldn’t know from observing him onstage, but composing and performing chart-topping country hits are just two of Russell Dickerson’s talents.
He also does a mean Donald Duck impression.
“And I’m a major wine nerd,” he adds.
Donald Duck quacks aside, Dickerson has fine-tuned his low but lush vocals since graduating with a music degree from Belmont University over eight years ago.
“Every night, I have to do my vocal warm-ups while also eating greasy Lay’s potato chips and [drinking] a little bourbon to grease up and loosen the ole pipes,” Dickerson explains.
His method has, so far, yielded a consistently smooth, strong range of music, making his style distinctive in a genre populated with more than a few bourbon buffs. Dickerson’s library of songs, going back to those released off his first EP, “Die To Live Again,” in 2011 to his most recent, “Yours,” in 2017, lay claim to more than 200 million streams on Spotify.
From the addictive tune of “Blue Tacoma” to the single responsible for a thousand slow dances and putting him on the radar and radios across the nation, “Yours,” Dickerson has risen steadily and gracefully through the ranks of country music artistry.
That said, don’t expect him to slow down anytime soon.
His current tour schedule finds him traveling the U.S. with Darius Rucker, an invaluable source of career advice and, as Dickerson refers to him, “one of the wisest in the biz.”
“Love that guy,” he exclaims. “Usually we’re just sitting around after a show and we just start talking about the whole thing.”
Though Lay’s and bourbon play a vital part in his vocal warm-ups, Dickerson says the majority of his on-the-road diet involves less grease and more greens.
“I pretty much stick to this whole Keto low-carb thing. It’s worked really well for me to stay in shape and give me the energy I need every day. I also try to get a decent shred session in a few times a week as well.”
Dickerson says he and his wife, Kailey, are “total foodies,” and enjoy sampling the local fare of each city they visit on tour. “We love to first find a great coffee spot and later a nice dinner spot with a major vibe.”
As for his exercise regime, “It’s always different at this point,” he says.
“We aren’t consistent enough to have a full-time trainer yet, but when we were out with Lady Antebellum, they had a sick workout trailer with anything we needed to get a nice lil pump in.”
Dickerson admits he is still figuring out how to most effectively adapt his workout regime to his concert calendar.
“Geez. It’s so hard. Finding time and energy at this point to work out in a hotel gym, eat healthy and keep the beer to a minimum is a struggle. But that’s what you gotta do—adapt. Great buzzword.”
When he and Kailey are not at the mercy of adapting to life on the road, they embrace the outdoors in Dickerson’s native Tennessee.
“When I’m home, I love waking up first thing and building a fire. I love being outside. I can often be found mountain biking, running trails at Percy Warner Park or hiking at Lake Radnor in Nashville.”
Back on tour, “Yours” continues to be his number-one crowd-pleaser both in the U.S. and across the pond in Europe, but when Dickerson wants to get everyone clapping and screaming, “MGNO” off “Yours” is the way to go.
“I’ve got a lot of energy to get out of my ADHD self, so this song involves a lot of jumping, running and dancing.”
The vigor radiating through Dickerson’s persona and high-energy performances makes him a magnetic for fellow artists and life-enthusiasts, and the headlining country acts he opens for provide him and his music with both generous exposure and unforgettable memories. One artist in particular he still can’t believe he opened for is Keith Urban.
“I was walking back from front of house on his last two songs, and when he came off stage he was like, ‘Bro where were you?’ I watched the whole thing from the soundboard! He had called me up onstage to sing ‘The Joker’ with him and I freaking missed it. Oh well. Next time, Keith!”
For Dickerson, the inspiration for his music mirrors his perpetual love for life, and no one can deny his genuine gusto when the beat drops and sparks the hum of his next hit.
“Whatever it is I believe, it’s got to be real. The process happens all different ways. Sometimes it starts with a beat, a song title or even just a quick melody,” he says. “As an artist, my only goal is to take this as far and wide as possible. So I dream of arenas and stadiums. Will I be there in three years? Who knows, but that’s what I have my sights set on.”
He chuckles. “Personally, I think we will definitely have a baby by then. Wow that’s weird to say.”
The pride in Dickerson’s professional life intersects with that of his personal, a common makeup of many a country artist’s post-breakthrough gratification. Fans of his work are quick to mention Kailey directed the music video for “Yours” as well as co-directed the one for “Blue Tacoma.”
“My wife is definitely my good luck charm. She’s been with me since before any of this started happening.”
This lean country-music-making machine knows he’s blessed and what’s best for his health and craft, but also who stood with him when the world was not yet singing along.
“This career I built from the absolute ground up. My wife has helped me in so many ways and I’m just so proud of us for sticking to what we knew was going to be a breakthrough song and video and we never gave up. That’s what I’m most proud of.” •