BY PIPER WHELAN
Whether it’s through music or photography, Chris Petersen is passionate about providing a glimpse into the western lifestyle he loves. The Utah born-and-raised musician writes country songs with a distinctly cowboy feel, and his popular photography account, Diehard Cowboy, has a huge Instagram following for his images of a working cowboy’s everyday life.
However, it took time for Petersen to feel ready to share his voice with the world. He enjoyed music and wrote songs when he was younger but kept them to himself. “It just became more and more a part of my life as I got older, but I was really too shy to share these songs,” he recalled.
Through the encouragement of a group of friends who got together to sing and play guitar, Petersen built his confidence and became more serious about song writing. He later recorded six songs for family and close friends, and a burned CD of his music reached country artist Collin Raye. Raye liked what he heard and asked Petersen to open for him at a show in the latter’s hometown.
“I was scared to death,” Petersen admitted. “This would be the very first time I played in front of anybody other than my close friends, but I agreed to do it because I just felt like I needed to.” This experience and the encouragement he received from Raye changed everything for Petersen, who amped up his pursuit of a musical career. “I decided from there it was something I wanted to do, and I was determined to overcome my fear of singing in front of people, so for the next solid year I sang at an open mic every single week.”
Petersen’s first album, Make a Memory Tonight, was released in 2014. In an effort to take his music to a higher level, he teamed up with acclaimed Nashville producer Trent Willmon for his latest record, out in early July.
He describes his music as traditional country with a cowboy twist, and counts Merle Haggard, George Strait and Chris Ledoux among his influences. With the popularity of what might be called “pop-country,” there has been a resurgence in more traditional country music, which he’s noticed firsthand.
“Country music as a whole has changed a little bit, and not that they’re producing bad music, but it’s different music and it’s not the country music that fits me,” he said. “I started to miss true country music, and I figured that other people felt the same, and as I continued to share my music with people, I feel like they’ve really been drawn to my music because it’s speaking to the music that I like and the music that I feel represents who I am.”
He’s also embracing new opportunities to discover artists who may not get as much or any mainstream airtime. “It’s a fun time to be in music because there’s so many possibilities,” he said. “You don’t have to only find music on the radio.”
You can stream Petersen’s music on Spotify, and for more info on his new album, visit cpcountry.com.