BURGIN — Stardom doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes hard work to achieve that dream. Just ask Mercer County’s Dillon Carmichael.
Carmichael, the son of Becky Montgomery and Matthew Carmichael, recently signed a publishing contract with The Song Factory in Nashville at the ripe old age of 19. The company has been helping him hone his talents, opening doors for him to work with several established songwriters and preparing him for the possibility of touring.
Some of the songs he has created since starting work at The Song Factory will soon be turned into a demo. He has actively remained involved in the writing process, as he wants to “be a part of writing every song.” The recorded demo will then be presented to record labels, and Carmichael will have the opportunity to perform for the labels in a showcase.
“They could sign me anywhere between six months and never,” Carmichael said, laughing.
Despite the uncertainty, he remains positive about his future and has proven that he won’t quit trying to follow his passion. He’s got some talented family members who know how the hit the big time in country music.
His famous uncles, Eddie Montgomery and John Michael Montgomery, have helped guide the early stages of his career.
“They pretty much told me, you gotta take risks. You gotta work hard. And you gotta be passionate about it,” Carmichael said. “They gave me a lot of inspiration themselves, in their music, because they are good, they are amazing musicians.”
Although he has grown up in a musical family, it wasn’t until he was 12 that he first began playing guitar. At 14, he said, he really got into music, eventually forming a band at the age of 15. At first, the group was without a vocalist.
His mom, Becky, encouraged him to sing. He gave it a shot, but said he “sounded awful.”
“I got discouraged and she told me, ‘just keep doing it.’ Every time I got discouraged she would just tell me to ‘keep doing it.’”
Eventually, the persistence paid off.
At the age of 15, he performed in a talent show sponsored by Farm Bureau, singing the first song he had written. He had struggled to choose a song to sing, and sought out his mom’s opinion on what would help him win the event.
“She said, ‘Write a song. That’ll really blow ‘em away’,” He took her advice to heart and began writing. Admittedly, he didn't feel he had much to say at the beginning.
“I was 15, didn’t have anything to worry about; no responsibilities. But I sat down and wrote a song about my mom and my dad.”
When he performed it on stage during the talent show, the looks from the judges gave Carmichael doubt. When the scores returned, however, he earned the win and gained entry into the regional competition. He went on to win the state, singing a song called “You Do Your Thing.”
“Until the deal, that was my proudest thing,” Carmichael said.
By the time he was 17, he was performing regularly in Nicholasville. Someone from Nashville had heard about Carmichael and checked him out on YouTube. They came to hear him sing, talking to him that night.
“I told them I was 17. They said, ‘are you serious?’’” he said, smiling about the meeting. He was still in high school at the time.
“They said, ‘You’re not even old enough to sign your own contract,’” but encouraged Carmichael to come to Nashville after he turned 18. He did precisely that, going to Nashville within a few weeks of his graduation from Mercer County High School.
Since then, Carmichael has been splitting his time between Burgin and Nashville, as he goes there every two weeks to write. The Song Factory is a publishing company that boasts songwriters, some of whom are noted musicians, such as Dustin Lynch, Jon Pardi, Britton Cameron, Burton Collins, and many others.