His tribute song, “This is Our Home,” was inspired by the devastation left by tornadoes in his and co-writer Matthew Huff’s home state of Arkansas in April. It’s not surprising they arranged for the proceeds to help the victims of the storm which claimed the lives of 15 people in its 40-mile path.
What is surprising, though, is that only 6 months prior to the storms, the Ozark, Ark., native was helping victims of natural disasters in a different way.
“Up until October of last year, I worked for FEMA for 8 years,” he told us recently. “I traveled the country and worked Federal disasters — Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ike, and last, Hurricane Sandy up in New Jersey and New York City.” Lance has been based out of Nashville since 2011.
He continued, “Matthew is a good friend of mine. He’s from Mammoth Spring, Ark., and we both had people affected in the storm. He called me and was coming to town, and he had this song he was wanting to write. And I didn’t know it was about the tornadoes. I just thought it was something else.
“And I told him, ‘Man in all these years I’ve never written a song about a disaster because I’ve been so close to them, but now that I’m resigned from (working for FEMA), and I’m doing music full time, let’s do this.’ But let’s not just do it for the folks in Mayflower and Vilonia, Ark. Let’s make this universal where anyone in the country, anyone in the world who went through something like this — you know a storm in your life — this song would kind of help you get through it, give you some hope.”
So they wrote it. Lance described the result this way: “We got knocked down to our knees, but we’re going to get back up and pull together, and the community is going to prevail.
“I talked to my publisher and our lawyer, and we got it to where a 100% of the proceeds of it are going to go to all the storm victims. Us not being huge artists, that may not be a big amount but it’s a small piece.”
But the piece may have been bigger than they imagined. The song rang up 10,000 listens online in its first week. “We’ve got calls from many states saying, ‘hey, we heard your song it touched us. Thank you so much for giving us something to listen to and hold onto and have that hope.’ So it’s an honor to use this gift of music we’re given to help other people and not just try and get a No. 1 song on the radio, and not just play a big sold-out stadium or something.”
This is only one of many examples of Lance’s success since he went full-time in the music business less than a year ago. This year, he released his self-titled debut album and backed it with a successful tour.
“We released it last February here in Nashville and had a big show down at the Listening Room, and that went real well,” he said. “Putting that first album together was exciting. I was in town a couple of years and had a lot of songs to choose from.” For the album, Lance wrote two of the songs himself and co-wrote the other 10.
He described the tour as “wonderful.”
“We got a band put together, and so far this year we’ve played shows in Tennessee and Arkansas, Kansas, Ohio, Kentucky. We played some acoustic shows down in Key West, Fla. We spent a whole week down there for a songwriting festival – a great networking opportunity.”
The next leg will take him north. “I’ve got some guys in Boston I’ve played with, and I’m going to be in the Boston and New Hampshire areas pretty much all of September. And I’m going to do a parking lot party with Darius Rucker and then play Toby Keith’s, and a couple of Hard Rock (Cafes) and some house concerts.
“It’s going to be fun,” he said, in what appeared to be somewhat of an understatement.
Lance arranges his tour to include venues where all his fans can see him. “There are certain people who will come out to bars and listen to you play, and then some others they want to see you in church,” he laughed, “So I try to play shows everywhere I can so I can reach as many people with my music as I can.”
Although he is enjoying life on the road, Lance considers himself a songwriter first. “When I first came to town, I was afraid to put 50 percent into trying to be a songwriter and 50 percent into trying to be an artist,” he said. “And I had the fear I would fail at both of them, so I just kind of focused on songwriting and craft, and got to where I could write a decent song. Then I was blessed to get a publishing deal signed to Bigger Picture Music Group in 2012 just shortly after putting the album out.
“I got a couple of cuts on Dylan Scott over at Sidewalk Records pretty quick,” he said. “And about a year into that is when I thought all right let’s put some songs together and do an album. And I never dreamed that I would get a band together, and we would go and be playing shows with Toby Keith, Luke Bryan and some of those guys.”
Currently, Lance is a staff writer for Parallel Entertainment. “That’s my job,” he said. “And on the artist side, that’s all on my own, independently. And we do that for fun and we have a good time out there with the band and the fans playing our music.”
Lance said he is satisfied with being an independent musician for the moment. “I would rather be in a crowd of 20,000 people and hear an artist sing a song I wrote back to me than be on stage and sing to 20,000 people,” he said.
But, not so fast.
He added, “My friend, Casssandra Tormes — we had breakfast not too long ago — she used to work for Cotton Valley Records. She’s one of my champions in town that loves my music and kind of got some things going for me. And she said, ‘Well what about I throw a third little wrinkle into that?’ She goes, ‘What if you’re on stage and 20,000 people are singing your song back to you?’ And that kind of got the chills on the arms and I thought, you know, that’d be pretty nice.”
He added, “Right now my goal isn’t necessarily to get a record deal. There’s a lot of people who come to town to write songs — you know Eric Paslay, Thomas Rhett, the list goes on and on — who come to town and have success and become artists in their own right. I’m not going to say I don’t see that in the future, you know that could definitely be a possibility.”
Lance’s latest accomplishment is “Love Me Like You Mean It,” a song he wrote which was recorded by Kelsea Ballerini. The tune is already on Sirius XM the Highway. “She’s on radio tour right now, and in September “Love Me Like You Mean It” goes for adds for regular radio, so that is something I’m really excited about right now.” He added, “She’s a phenomenal artist, and hopefully we’ll have a long career in this business.”
Though he’s serious about his music, Lance doesn’t take himself too seriously all the time. “I’m country as a horse turd,” he blurted out during our talk. “And I’m a pretty good ol’ boy. I am what I am and you get what you see.”
Then he said, “The more successful I am, the more significant I can be in the lives of other people. Right now I just want to write great songs and go out there and have some fun, and what the Lord has planned for me I’m willing to accept.”
And whatever the future holds for Lance Carpenter, his fans will certainly be thankful for him.