Barns Courtney in Texas (Thursday, November 2 - Sunday, November 5)

“I always knew I wanted to perform somehow,” says Barns Courtney. “There are photos of me at three years old, with my teddy bears all lined up, singing into a plastic microphone. Music is just an inherent part of me, and it was something I couldn’t help but pursue.”

Suddenly, that pursuit has exploded into one of the most exciting music stories of recent times. The young artist went from working part-time jobs and sleeping in his car to scoring hits on both sides of the Atlantic.

“Fire,” Barns Courtney’s first U.S. single, took off at SiriusXM’s Spectrum channel and ultimately charted in the Top 5 at Triple A radio and within the Top 15 at the Alternative format. Bradley Cooper and Harvey Weinstein personally tapped it for use in the film Burnt. “Fire” was subsequently heard in advertising campaigns for the Showtime network, the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack and BOSE Soundsport Wireless Headphones.

Meanwhile, “Glitter & Gold” went to No. 1 on the Spotify UK Viral Chart. Soon Barns Courtney found himself opening for The Who at London’s Wembley Stadium and also supporting such artists as Ed Sheeran, Elle King and Blur.

Growing up in Seattle, Barns Courtney’s passion for music was apparent early on. “I’ve always written songs, for as long as I can remember,” he says. “I wrote songs before I could play an instrument, just little poems or whatever, as young as six or seven years old. 

“I liked to make the other kids laugh, making up silly songs or doing comedy, but my school was so serious that it didn’t even have a drama department, so I couldn’t see any outlet for who I was.”

The first album that really captured his imagination was Nirvana’s Nevermind, which he listened to every day for a year while walking to school. Courtney wasn’t aware, though, that the band shared his hometown, or the importance of Seattle as a musical hub. When he was 14, an aunt gave him a guitar, which proved to be a pivotal event.

He began performing, bouncing between various bands, and also expanded his musical palette. “My music is based in Americana,” he says, “but I was definitely into the Libertines, the Fratellis, Arctic Monkeys, all those British indie bands.”

Barns Courtney dedicated himself to his songwriting. “I knew that what I was writing was terrible,” he says, “but I thought that if I kept working, by the time I was 20, I might be alright.” He signed a recording contract straight out of high school, but when that deal fell apart, he went through several years of struggle.