Though his songs are fresh and he himself is young, Paul Bogart is an old soul with a knack for capturing time-honored traditions and summing up classic sentiments in catchy, three-minute songs. Exuding sincerity and a rare, down-to-earth charm, he is, simply put, the epitome of traditional country music. After nearly a decade of writing, playing and touring, Bogart has begun pulling in big numbers in every arena, literally. Whether it’s the main stage at the AQHA World Championships with thousands in attendance or the social media scene with over 3.5 million fans reached through all social video platforms, lead by “The Cowboy Way” and “Cowboy Ride” with over 2.6 million views, Bogart’s songs have connected with America’s Heartland in a real, tangible way that modern country has perhaps missed.
You said, “All of my music just fits under a cowboy hat.” If you were to write a song about your first hat, how would it tell your story of growing up in Oklahoma?
My first cowboy hat was a 4X black felt Stetson. I still have it and it is still a little bit too big for Jett, my oldest son, who’s 3 but he wants to wear it when he grows into it. He’s already got a turkey feather stuck in the hat band. Metaphorically speaking, growing up in the family I grew up in, on the piece aground I grew up on, living the lifestyle I came to know and love, it’s not something easily thrown away. It is something I cherish, and I thank God for it.
How has your family inspired you to never give up on your dreams?
I come from a family of entrepreneurial minded, hard-working people. Call it dreams, call it vision, call it goals, my folks taught us to commit to something and hustle as hard as you can to accomplish the goal.
Competing in the American Quarter Horse Association — how did it shape you as a country artist?
The American Quarter Horse Association, along with college rodeo scholarships, paid for a bachelors degree for me. So I guess at least one thing it did was make me authentic in a cowboy hat :-)
You almost passed up the opportunity to connect with Garth Brooks! Can you share the story of how wanting to play a hometown show lead you to Nashville?
I had put out concert fliers for a hometown show in all the surrounding small towns and “for more info call…” my parent’s home phone number- small town Oklahoma :-) We got a call from a guy named Floyd saying he worked for Garth Brooks and that GB wanted to meet me. Everyone knew Garth lived in the area, so this story could be true, but I assumed Floyd had gotten this phone number and was prank calling. I told him I needed to check my schedule, thanks for calling- then I hung up.
Floyd called back the next week and asked if I had been able to check my schedule. Later that week he picked me up in a half ton Ford pick up and drove me to Garth Brooks’s place. I knocked on the front door and out he walked in a T-shirt, athletic shorts, Oklahoma State ball cap turned around backwards, and he was barefooted. What’s up man, I’m Garth… Brooks. I shook his hand and thought to myself, he really didn’t need to introduce himself. He encouraged me to finish my degree, and if I was serious about music, then I should move to Nashville because that’s where it all happens.
Once you were in Tennessee, you wrote with Billy Montana, Tom Douglass, and Jamie O’Hara. Do you remember the first song you wrote?
I don’t remember if it was the first song I cowrote after moving to town, but “Number 1 Fan” was for sure in the first five songs I wrote after moving to Nashville — wrote it with Jim Beavers. Jim is a fantastic songwriter and has had loads of success including multiple number one hits.
The devastation of the Nashville floods lead you to international touring. Can you share how you and your wife made the decision to continue your musical journey after you lost everything?
In May 2010 Nashville was flooded. Parts of downtown and over 11,000 homes had water damage including the first house my wife and I ever bought. We sunk our entire savings into the house so we could buy our payment down to an affordable monthly mortgage payment. We were not in a floodplain so we did not have flood insurance, making it all the more devastating when we came home to our house that had water up to the light switches.
At that point I had three options. I could go get a real job and pay to have the house rebuilt. I could rebuild it myself as cheap as I could do it. Or the third option, and thankfully, the option we chose — I called everyone I had ever worked for and explained that if their event needed entertainment this year, I could sure use the work. Since everything, including my two guitars, were ruined in the flood, Taylor Guitars gave me a DN8 and by the grace of God I put it to work. That first year we played over 65 shows!
People were so generous! On several occasions, after we played our set I would go pick up my check and there would be an extra thousand dollars in the check. At an event we played in Wyoming, the governor was in attendance wearing a silver Stetson cowboy hat and upon hearing about the miss fortune of my wife and I, he came up on stage, took the mic, took his hat off, and told the 700 people in attendance that he would be passing his hat around the room and he wanted it to be overflowing with love from the people of Wyoming to help out a young family in need. It was so amazing! I can barely reflect on the generosity of so many people without swallowing a big lump in my throat and wiping away a tear from my eyes.
By the grace of God, however devastating May 2010 was, it reshaped and kicked off my music career.
Your new single “I’m Just Sayin’” — what is the backstory?
I love this song! It is a groovy, good time, make you feel good, smiling, summertime song. Trent Willmon produced it and the band knocked it out of the park!
What message do you want fans to take away from the song?
There is not necessarily a message I want them to take away from the song. I just hope they love it as much as I do. I’m a songwriter. I write every day, but I did not write “I’m Just Sayin.’” It was a title I had tried to write in years past but didn’t ever come up with anything good enough to release. Trent Willmon, my producer, and I were thinking through songs to record on an upcoming session and he pitched a song to me that he had written with Jenee Fleenor and my Oklahoma friend Buddy Owens. He played me a rough work tape on the song and I was amazed that it hadn’t already been cut and made them a pant load of money. I told him that if he was pitching me this song, consider it cut!!
How has your voice evolved from the start of your career to this new song?
My mom played piano at church in my earliest memories. She taught us kids to sing harmony before we could ride a bike. When I first started taking paying gigs in high school I was covering old campfire cowboy songs and mixing in a few of my originals. I’d sure like to think the tone of my voice has improved with time, age, and experience.
Where do you see yourself moving forward in your music?
My music will continue to evolve, I’m sure. But I am certain there will still be a common thread in my music that has been there since the early days of camp fire cowboy songs. I’m certain that my music will always fit under a cowboy hat.
Dream writing partners?
What do you wish you would be asked in an interview?
Favorite place you’ve played? We got to play a beautiful amphitheater in Lignano, Italy. the crowd loved it, the band crushed it and my wife and I were treated like royalty.