This is the story of a Georgia boy playing sold-out arenas with his good friends, charting No. 1 singles and recording duets with an "American Idol."
Might sound like a fairy tale. But that's the life of Jason Aldean, a country singer without much flash who simply records catchy country-rock songs and can still go platinum in a digital-download age.
Aldean's new album, "My Kinda Party," will be released Tuesday and includes, among other things, a duet with Kelly Clarkson. Expect to hear a few new songs from that effort when Aldean headlines his concert Thursday night at the Oklahoma City Arena (formerly the Ford Center). Aldean's buddy and fellow Georgian Luke Bryan will join him on the bill.
"Because of the success of the last album ('Wide Open' sold 1.5 million copies), it took the pressure off," Aldean said. "I'm excited for people to hear it. It still has songs like 'Hicktown' and 'Johnny Cash.' And we try some new things. But we're not going to get too far away from what brought us here."
Aldean, who has spent his entire career on the independent Broken Bow Records label, has enjoyed a slow and steady ascension to country stardom. His first single "Hicktown" dropped in 2005. And while it was a mild hit, the song wasn't an "Achy Breaky Heart." His next single "Why" took a slow climb to No. 1. Meanwhile, Aldean built a bigger audience through constant touring and two more successful albums.
Then his career launched into superstardom after three consecutive singles ("She's Country," "Big Green Tractor" and "The Truth") reached the top of the country charts. The next step was a headline tour.
"I've been lucky," Aldean said. "A lot of artists that come out have everything happen really quick. The first single explodes, and that instant fame can be hard to handle. But we've had a slow and steady calm to my career. Speaking of my own personal life, I've had time to adjust from '05 until now. When you start on top of the mountain, you don't really have anywhere else to climb."
Aldean and his buddy and opening act Luke Bryan have toured together since spring, creating what Aldean calls one of the most fun years of his life. The two country singers met at a radio station in Chattanooga several years ago. Stories of their native Georgia led to phone calls and hunting trips and finally a tour.
"I know it's a cliche to say our show is high-energy, but it really is," Aldean said of the live performance. "We know people come to shows to escape, so we try to make it more of an event than just a typical show. We do some cool things visually with video screens and really try to make it something people enjoy."