Neil Russell
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Neil Russell

Tucson, Arizona, United States | SELF

Tucson, Arizona, United States | SELF
Band Country Classic Rock




"2011 Freedom Festival: Independent voices fete independence"

• Do-it-yourself hometowners: Opening act Neil Russell & Southern Drawl from Tucson are self-produced, self-recorded and self-motivated. In 2009, this DIY approach earned frontman Russell a nomination for Best Independent Artist from the Internet Radio Magazine. The band has a raw, unpolished sound that is a refreshing contrast to Nashville's sheen. For sound bites, visit

- Arizona Daily Star

"Neil Russell"

Some seek fame, striving all their lives to attain it, while others have to be pounced upon and dragged into the spotlight. Neil Russell is one such artist who was ambushed by music and shown his calling.

The energetic athlete turned singer and songwriter tells us of his sudden realization. "It was kind of funny how it happened. I was a bar manager in Tucson, Arizona where I live, and they were doing karaoke down there. Nobody was really getting into it, so the karaoke company was getting frustrated with the fact that they kept doing all the singing and nobody was getting up. I wanted to show the patrons how easy it was, that anybody could do it, and got up and sang a song. From that moment it was just... that's what started it all. I never really sang before that. The crowd was drawn into the performance that I put on. I thought I just sang a normal number, but got rave reviews over my voice and the stage presence. Just doing a small community bar. It's just one of those flip things."

Unbeknownst to Neil, among those to be caught up in his spur of the moment act, were the owners of the label Sound Dawg Records. "They took notice of the performance that I did and began to work with me. Danny had the equipment in his house, asked me if I wanted to come in and just have some fun recording. I didn't think it would go anywhere. I walked in the door and felt right at home. It was just like singing karaoke in a bar, but we were doing it in his house. There were a few shows in Tucson that I would go to, a couple of the casinos that offered karaoke as well. I slowly got a small reputation as someone who could always put on a show no matter where he went."

He continues, "I sang at the Country Music Festival in Tucson that had Clay Walker and Neil McCoy as their headliners. I sang right after Luke Bryan, right before Trent Tomlinson. They were up on stage for about half an hour and I was on stage for about 10-15 minutes. Everyone asked me if I was nervous before I got up there. I was more anxious to get up there, and as soon as I walked on stage, I was right at home. I try to just exude the energy that I have and say, 'Let's go for a ride. Let's have some fun. Here I go.' and off I went. There were about 9,000 people there, so it was just the next step in this whole process, this journey of mine. It's one of those things I thank God for because it's absolutely opened so many doors and avenues for me. "

Neil is no longer with Sound Dawg Records and is currently looking for a new label to get his music to the people, but this detour has not stopped his determination and passion for country music.

He is currently seeking the chance to get out his first collection of mostly self-written songs, though admits there are a few hurdles to leap along the way. “I'm working on the originals of my first original CD I did. My projected first release is going to be titled 'Mud' which is just an absolute kick butt song written by Tommy Calame. As you hear the first lick of the guitar, you just know you're in for a treat. I do have a handicap right now, and that's not playing an instrument. It's really hard for me when I write songs. It's one of those things where the mood strikes me, and I sit there and think of ideas of what I would like to do as far as writing a song. If I played a guitar or keyboard I could easily put music along, but I sit down and just write lyrics. I have written five songs that have lyrics. There's no music tone, which I'm hoping to change. In my short time here in Nashville I've gotten together with a couple of songwriters and they've actually taken a look at those. Hopefully, we'll be able to sit there and figure out the direction I want the music to go with those lyrics. I love writing music. Ideas come up everyday just from normal conversation."

When Neil decided to pursue music, he surprised those close to him. "My wife and my parents were actually quite shocked. My parents never knew I had this aspiration. When they actually got to see one of my performances they were just like, 'You were made for this'. My wife and two daughters absolutely love it and support me in everything I do. I couldn't ask for a better family. My youngest daughter, who's 3, is now listening to my CDs. That's what she goes to sleep with. My oldest daughter loves it to the point until I'm performing on stage, then she's embarrassed because Daddy likes to shake his butt. I don't have a problem getting up there and doing a little hip swivel,” he says with a laugh.

The goals, which he grew up with, were literally more along the lines of the green swathes of the sports fields than the boards of the stage floors. "I grew up in a small town, that's not so small anymore, outside of Houston, called Katy, Texas. I’ve been chasing this dream of mine of singing country music for the last four years now. I'm just this average guy that is getting the chance of a lifetime to chase a dream that not many people get to chase down. It was always my dream growing up to be a professional athlete. It's funny, playing sports I used music, and now doing the music, I use my sports background to help me out. I play Australian football and the amount of energy it takes to play that sport is just tremendous. Some would say its rugby on crack. That's what feeds into my shows because I have such a structured training regiment with high activity. I run around quite a bit and bounce all over the place."

"It's amazing how things happen in life. You don't expect your life to go a certain way and one small little chance meeting starts things up. I thank God for every day that I'm blessed to do this." - Music Rising Stars Magazine


Album: Breaking Hearts In Heaven (11 tracks)
1.Good To Be Loved By You*
2. He Rides*
3. Breaking Hearts In Heaven*
4. Ghost Town*
5. Two Souls Joining
6. Redneck*
7. Got Me Through The Days*
8. Three Little Words*
9. Mud*
10. My Windbreak
11. 22 Hours A Day

*received or is currently being played via radio or streaming airplay

"Mud" reached #4 on the Independent Music Network Country Charts

"Good To Be Loved By You" reached #1 on the Independent Music Network Country Charts



This Katy, Texas native always had music in his life. Sundays would be the day that music would flow throughout the house. Neil's mother would have the music playing so that it would fill the halls and bedrooms for all to appreciate. This is where Neil got his early taste for music. While Neil had aspirations of glory through his athletic prowess, Neil, since his first taste of performing, has quickly developed a passion for music that has not even matched his intensity for sports. This, however, does not mean that Neil has forgotten his roots, as he uses his athletic abilities in his performances.

The uniqueness to Neil's singing ability is what sets Neil apart from other country artists. Neil's musical influences include Conway Twitty, Ronnie Milsap, Don Williams, George Strait, Garth Brooks and Clint Black. But don't think Neil was only influenced by lone entertainers, some of the big name bands also had a hand in Neil's musical background. Groups like Alabama, Oak Ridge Boys, Journey, KISS and ABBA influenced his taste. This diversity in taste has helped Neil win over the most skeptical of listeners.

In a very short time, Neil has vaulted not only his name but his music as well into the limelight. Neil traveled to Nashville to record his debut CD, "Breaking Hearts In Heaven" and since being released, Neil and his music have achieved some very memorable milestones. Neil has been featured four times on "The Conman Radio Show" hosted by Chris Conn. This radio program is a nationally syndicated show that broadcasts in over one hundred cities across America. This airplay by an independent or unsigned artist is significant as it helped propel two of Neil's songs into the top five on independent music charts. The song "Mud" reached number four and "Good To Be Loved By You" reached the pinnacle of the charts.

The rise in Neil's CD has lead to increased exposure on the performance side. Since 2010, Neil has been featured the most of any artist at the Pima County Fair in Tucson, Arizona. Neil also was apart of the 2011 KIIM FM Freedom Festival in Tucson, Arizona. This festival is a highlight every year for Tucson as it brings in national country acts from all across the country to perform.

Neil has shared the stage with the following artists:
Ash Bowers
Trent Tomlinson
Luke Bryan
Sunny Sweeney
Steve Holy
Neal McCoy
Clay Walker
Tracy Lawrence