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Chase Bryant shouldn’t be here right now, and yet he’s never sounded more alive, more vital, more himself than he does on his extraordinary new album, ‘Upbringing.’ Recorded in the aftermath of a season of darkness and despair, the record is a searing, honest portrait of struggle and resilience from a songwriter finally learning to love and trust himself, flaws and all. Though the journey to this moment nearly put him in the grave, Bryant’s stronger now for his struggles, with a clear head, and an open heart.
Born and raised in rural Orange Grove, Bryant grew up dreaming of a life in music. Those dreams came true faster than Bryant could have anticipated, though, and fame and success arrived with a hefty price.
Rock bottom came in a gas station parking lot, when Bryant’s anxiety and depression led him to put a loaded .357 revolver to his head. “I was sitting there begging for some kind of intervention,” he recalls. “I said, ‘God, if you’re real, I need you to help me, to show me what I’m supposed to do, because otherwise I’m done.’ I felt like I just couldn’t take it anymore.”
When no sign arrived from above, Bryant screamed that he was sorry and pulled the trigger. He opened his eyes a few moments later, certain he was dead and waking up on some alternate plane of existence only to realize that something miraculous had happened, that he was somehow still alive. Opening the cylinder on the revolver, he found only five bullets instead of the six he was sure he’d loaded. The empty chamber had spared his life. “For the first time, I felt like somebody had heard me crying out for help and stepped in,” says Bryant. “It made me realize that my life wasn’t supposed to end that day, that I still had a purpose to live for.”
And so Bryant began the long and arduous road to recovery, checking into a mental rehabilitation center and enrolling in intensive therapy. He spent the next several years facing his demons head on, learning to be comfortable in his own skin, to make peace with being alone, to be okay with not being okay all the time.
With the floodgates open, Bryant entered one of the most prolific creative periods of his life. “I wanted to be that empty chamber for somebody else,” Bryant explains. “I wanted to help people realize that they’re not alone in this fight, that somebody’s out there listening and has their back.”
It was a close call, but Chase Bryant is still here, and he aims to be for a good long while.
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