Songwriter Spotlight: An Interview with Luke Laird

Luke Laird first came to Nashville with his family on vacation while he was in high school. One night on the trip, they found themselves at the Bluebird Cafe; that was when Laird realized songwriting was a real job that people have and do every day. “That was the first time I’d seen writers playing these songs that I had heard on the radio and I was blown away. That night I decided that’s what I really wanted to do,” he states.

Laird grew up in rural Pennsylvania on the western side of the state. He began his musical journey by playing piano in kindergarten. He then picked up the guitar in first grade. “As far as writing songs, I mean the second I could put two chords together, I was making up songs,” he tells The Nash News.

In high school, he developed a deep admiration for country music, specifically 90s country. When he was looking to go to college, his mom told him about Middle Tennessee State University’s Music Business program. When he made the move to town, he took his classes while participating in writer’s rounds in Music City. After graduating, he worked for Brooks & Dunn out on the road, surrounding himself with the music industry as much as he could. Eventually, he was introduced to Chris Ogelsby at BMG Music Publishing who Laird says, “Was the first guy to believe in my songs.” Two years later, Ogelsby offered Laird his first publishing deal.

Laird scored his first number one 10 years after he first moved to town in 1997. He had been writing with Hilary Lindsey for a bit and Lindsey had already established a relationship with then-rising star Carrie Underwood. The three wrote Underwood’s track “So Small.” After the writing session was over, he felt good about the song but had no idea it would be a promotional single, let alone the lead single for Underwood’s second album, Carnival Ride.“I’m grateful to Carrie because I had zero hits and she still wrote with me,” he says, “I’ll never forget the first time I heard it on the radio. It was pretty overwhelming because you just write so many songs, you think you’re a songwriter, and you hope that this is what you’ll get to do, but it’s not like hey, you signed a publishing deal, now you get to do this for the rest of you life. Every year your pub deal comes up.” He stops to think before adding a final notion. “Having that single- it was just a lot of validation.”