Home Is Where The Heart Is: Russell Dickerson On The “Home Sweet” Of “Southern Symphony”

Russell DickersonPhoto Credit: Spencer Combs

Audiences already know Russell Dickerson very well as a prolific songwriter and powerhouse showman. In 2017, his gold-certified full-length debut, Yours, bowed at #5 on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart and #1 on the Emerging Artists Chart and yielded three consecutive #1 smashes, including the double-platinum “Yours,” the platinum “Blue Tacoma,” and platinum “Every Little Thing.” Nominations followed at the Academy of Country Music Awards, CMT Music Awards, and iHeartRadio Music Awards. Among many highlights in 2020, he received a nod in the category of “Best New Male Artist of the Year” at the ACM. Plus, he has electrified audiences on tour with the likes of Thomas Rhett, Florida Georgia Line, Darius Rucker, Lady A and Kane Brown in addition to bringing the “RD Party” to sold out venues everywhere as a headliner. Attracting a fervent following on social media (fondly referred to as “RD Fam”), he launched his own YouTube show, “This Is Russ,” bringing viewers deeper into his world. Here, Dickerson — whose latest single “Home Sweet” currently has 18 million worldwide streams, dishes on his latest album, Southern Symphony, collaborating with Florida Georgia Line and why home really is where his heart is.

Russell DickersonPhoto Credit: Spencer Combs
Tell us a little bit about how the Southern Symphony album came together.

This whole album feels like the story of my life. From the title track “Southern Symphony,” which goes back to my Tennessee roots and Southern upbringing all the way to my current single “Home Sweet,” that talks about my wife being pregnant with our son and moving into our new house. It covers so many major chapters of my life.

Can you walk us through your songwriting process?

Even when we’re at the very beginning of a song, I try to envision what it would be like to perform it live and how people will react to it during a live show. Half of the songs on Southern Symphony were written while I was on the road early last year. My cowriters would come out and spend the weekend on my tour bus and get to experience the kind of energy that a crowd puts out and get a feel for what we’re aiming for when we write the songs.

What was it like collaborating with Florida Georgia Line on “It’s About Time”? Can you tell us a bit about the collaboration process?

After we finished writing the song, we loved how it had turned into a big ol’ party jam, but we knew we wanted to do something a little more with it. I played it for Tyler Hubbard, and he absolutely loved it, so then he sent it to BK (Brian Kelley) and within 10 minutes BK said he was getting on a plane and we were going to record the song the following week. I’ve never asked them for a favor before, but this song just felt like the perfect one to reach out to them about.

How did you come up with the concept for the “Home Sweet” music video? Did you always know you wanted to use the home video footage?

“Home Sweet is in my Top 5 best songs I’ve ever been a part of writing. The stories portrayed and the emotions felt are all real life experiences all wrapped up in this all-out anthem. My wife, Kailey, and I have had all of this footage sitting around for years, so this just felt like the perfect song to use it for. The video shares some of my favorite memories over the years that have inspired not only this song but so many others.

When you’re on the road so often, constantly in a new place, how do you stay balanced with all of the chaos? Do you have any reminders of home that are constantly with you?

I think it’s really important to keep a semi-regular morning routine when I’m on tour. For example, my wife and I always make sure that we have our morning coffee together no matter what. Having a set schedule helps me keep a bit of normalcy in my life amid all the craziness on the road. Fitness and a consistent workout routine are also really important to me. It’s a great way to relieve stress too. My wife has added a few personal touches like using the same tile that we have in our house on our bus and similar candles and stuff like that.

What’s your favorite thing about touring and getting to share your music with fans in person?

I always went to shows because I loved screaming every word with everyone around me. And now holding the mic out to hear the crowd sing my songs every night is by far my favorite part!

What is it like getting to share the touring experience with your son? Do you think you’ll urge him to become a musician one day?

I love having him out on the road with me, he crushes the road life! He’s so attentive and he’s so aware, and he loves to hear my music. It’s crazy, he just knows my voice. All I want is for Rem to find something that he loves and is passionate about.

What are your top five favorite places to hang out at home in Nashville?

– My backyard around a big ol’ fire
Bongo Java – Get the Bongo Basic
Grand Ole Opry – Nothing like playing that stage!
Moto for a fancy date night
– A golf course

Who, or what, says “home” to you?

As long as I’m with my wife and son, I get that feeling of being at ‘home.’ Those two help ground me and bring me such a sense of peace and contentment when things get crazy on tour and life in general.

What to you is the greatest luxury in life and why?

I’d have to say it’s being able to spend time with my wife and son. Not having a “normal job” and being able to control my time is one of the most amazing things in this life!