published Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Rossell poised for stardom in Nashville

Just a couple of weeks after leaving UTC in 2009, Mitch Rossell moved to Nashville and has been on the musical fast track there since.
Just a couple of weeks after leaving UTC in 2009, Mitch Rossell moved to Nashville and has been on the musical fast track there since.
Photo by Contributed Photo.


Hometown: Chattanooga.

Age: 23.

Education: Silverdale Baptist Academy, Virginia Tech, UTC.

Vocation: Musician living in Nashville.

Movie: "Old School."

Book: "Hank Williams the Biography."

Song: "No way. There are too many to list one."

Performer: Shawn Mullins.

Local wisdom says that Nashville is a five- to 10-year town. That's the time frame most artists expect it to take to either make it in the music business or fail trying.

Occasionally, someone bucks that trend and hits it big quickly. Chattanoogan Mitch Rossell hasn't hit the musical Powerball yet, but he keeps hitting on the Quick Picks, figuratively speaking.

Rossell has been in Nashville for less than two years, and already he has spent a day with George Jones and sung with Eric Church. He has also hooked up with the guys from the Zac Brown Band and has recorded with several of the band's members.

One of the biggest indications that the Silverdale Baptist Academy graduate is on the right track is that he was invited to perform regularly at Tootsies on Broadway. Steady work in Nashville at one of the best-known clubs is a big deal.

His debut album, "Who I Am," was released in 2008, before he moved to Nashville. A self-made video for his latest single, "Prayin' It Don't Rain," has been viewed more than 80,000 times on YouTube. A professionally done version comes out today.

Q: When did you move to Nashville?

A: I graduated from UTC in December of '09 -- I think the 13th -- and by the 28th, I had moved to Nashville. I did a couple of things. I worked at a hospital and at a bank for a while. Then I got asked to start doing gigs down at Tootsies, and it became my main source of income.

Q: How often do you play?

A: I play days and nights. Pretty much every day that I want to perform.

Q: Does it pay the bills?

A: Yes.

Q: Are you doing covers or originals?

A: Mostly covers, but I play originals too.

Q: Talk about that experience a little bit. What are you learning from doing that?

A: The biggest thing I've learned is playing with a full band. I'd never done that before. I've learned how to entertain people. It takes more than just singing well. You have to pick the right songs. You have to bring the energy every time and keep people entertained. When I first started, I was a little rigid but the more I've done it, I've actually become very relaxed.

I've learned how to rock the crowd. You've got to down there or they won't keep you playing.

Q: I understand you've become friends with some of the guys in the Zac Brown Band. How'd that happened?

A: Well, I've ended up in a relationship with those guys. I've recorded with some of them on my first record. I opened up for my bubby Hop [John Driskell Hopkins]. He plays bass for Zac.

Q: Are you doing many road gigs?

A: Some, but not a lot. I'm making enough money around here but we are starting to branch out.

Q: Have you met anybody else? Any of your heroes?

A: I got to hang out with George Jones at his house. That was really cool. I got to do a duet with Eric Church. He's one of my favorites and Zac Brown is one of my Top 3 groups. I've made some cool relationships and met some cool people. I've been pretty blessed.

Q: Has your life changed or are you ready for it to change? Things are happening pretty quickly for you it seems.

A: YouTube has gotten me so many opportunities. I play on Broadway (in Nashville) and at least once a day I get recognized from YouTube. I went to Walgreens to get some allergy medicine and the girl said, 'Are you Mitch Rossell?' That was neat. It's always neat. It's kind of surreal, though it happens more and more.

Q: What product is out there that people can hear or buy?

A: We are releasing a video [today] for 'Prayin' It Don't Rain.' We recorded two others but they are not out yet.

Q: Any upcoming shows in Chattanooga?

A: No. Nothing any time soon.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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