Nashville makes many sounds. It sounds country, pop, and by all means ‘radio-friendly.’ But there’s a wrinkle in Nashville’s genre status that’s begging for soulful folk music. The sound that returns people to their roots, but their ear hasn’t quite settled on. Bentley Caldwell is forming that sound. Soulful as an Otis Redding record, Bentley’s catalog seems as though it would be more at home in a dusty old record shop, but is characterized by his thrilling lyrics, which soothe the ear of the 21st century.
Raised in Paducah, Kentucky, Caldwell had a traditional upbringing and sang in both youth and men’s choir in his little hometown Baptist church. The summer before Bentley’s senior year, he was selected for Kentucky Governor’s School of the Arts. He was also offered a scholarship to Western Kentucky University for vocal music, but declined it and went to community college for a few years instead. While he was there, he ended up winning the last ticket to see BB King perform a sold out show. “He looked like a Lego man onstage.