Country music has entered a new era, and Russell Dickerson, who is headlining his "All Yours, All Night" tour, spoke with Fox News Digital about the direction of country music. He became animated while talking about the infusion of genres taking hold of the landscape.
"I always have been, and I will always think this, but the purists just frustrate me so much," Dickerson, 34, explained.
"They’re like, 'Oh, that ain't Merle Haggard' or whatever. It's like, dude, it ain't the '70s either, bro. Like, it's 2022. Collaboration is so easy and so available to everybody, why would we not try?" Dickerson wondered.
Dickerson, whose total music streams have amassed more than 1.5 billion, said he was eager to work with Jake Scott, whom he teamed up with for his single, "She Likes It." He said he knew the two would have creative chemistry, which is a huge draw for many collaborators.
"He's a pop guy, and it's like, why would we not write a song together and figure out if we can make magic? And we did," Dickerson explained. "So it's OK that there are so many different types of music. I feel like people just get so close-minded with country music only. They're like, 'It ain't sounding like it used to.' And, well yeah — it's been 40 years."
"So I am a fan of where the genre is going and how it's expanding and growing," Dickerson added. "And I love old country music. I love traditional country music. I love pop country. I love hip-hop country. I love it all, man. And I'm just super excited for just any and every avenue – any and every artist that wants to collaborate and get into country music, I say, 'Welcome.' Like, Come on in."
Even with the huge success that Dickerson has enjoyed, the singer-songwriter from Union City, Tennessee, still has a soft spot for one particular artist he says he has to collaborate with before his career is over.
"Michael Jackson was one of my first. That would be one of them, but I think another would be Usher," Dickerson revealed. "I remember in fifth grade, his 'My Way' (1997) album, and I absolutely wore it out. Just to be in so early on a legendary artist like that. I mean, he was like a teenager at the time or whatever it was. And just to hear that back in the day and to follow him and see him grow into the living legend that he is, man. That's probably one of my top, top choices, for sure."
The album included singles "Nice & Slow" and "You Make Me Wanna?" and propelled a young Usher to fame, selling more than 7 million copies.
Dickerson has just four dates remaining on his tour, which wraps up March 25 in Nashville, Tennessee, at The Ryman Auditorium. Speaking to the type of performances he loves to play for his fans, Dickerson said he draws inspiration from Tim McGraw and the greatest showman, Garth Brooks.
"I feel like people have said that about my show – that it’s a new experience for them. People are like, 'Dude, you go at 120 octanes for 100 minutes – it's insane,’" he said. "But hearing Garth Brooks' 'In Pieces,' that was one of my favorite all-time country records. And then, Tim McGraw's 'A Place in the Sun,' that's another one. Those are the kind of like legendary albums that careers are built on.
"And you're right, Garth Brooks is like the pinnacle. I mean, he's the highest-selling RIAA artist of all time – over Michael Jackson, over the Beatles. So, that's what I have my sights set on. And why not? If you're not trying to be the greatest, I don't understand what you are doing this for."
Dickerson seemed to find it difficult to comprehend his own music streaming popularity.
"Honestly, as you're saying that – you know, you see the numbers every week and then [the] team kind of gives you a rundown on this song had this many million and all that stuff, and it is crazy to step back and think about 350 million human beings or however many million people have listened to it how many times. That is insane," said Dickerson. "So thank you for that perspective. I appreciate it."
"As far as a catalog – that's great, but I've got my sights set on a much bigger kind of catalog of songs and hits," he continued. "I mean, Garth Brooks is one of my heroes. Tim McGraw is one of my heroes. That level of catalog, which includes decades of hits, is what I'm gunning for."