Dakota Bradley’s first love before music was sports. He grew up in St. Louis playing basketball, soccer, hockey, and jr. football. He still jumps into a pickup game of basketball every chance he gets, and works out every day.
At 12, Dakota picked up an old guitar in the family basement and spent the entire day learning songs on it. He never put it back down, and was soon listening to bands like Guns & Roses, Aerosmith, and Motley Crue. When he discovered the heart-tugging lyrics of country music a few years later though, he knew he had found a home.
Dakota’s parents are a big inspiration in his life. His mother lost nearly 200 pounds when he was a kid and became a motivational speaker, and watching her accomplishments gave him the confidence to chase his own dream. And his father, who spent his life in the construction business, taught him the value of a hard day’s work. He also instilled a positive outlook in his son -- something Dakota prides himself on and always practices. “My dad was always working and I got my work ethic from him. When I was little he was digging ditches, and he never complained! Growing up we were dirt poor, and he would come home happy as can be…he never complained. So I’m never in a bad mood ‘cause it’s in my blood -- my dad is always happy.”
By the eighth grade, Dakota had formed a band with some friends and despite their age, the group began playing gigs at local clubs around town. Though they only played a few shows, they were so good, they managed to win a battle of the bands competition against some 30-year-olds.
Dakota and his family moved to Nashville in his early teens, but when he turned 16, he went through some trying times that gave him plenty of fuel to power his dreams of a bigger and better life. His home burned down to the ground, then his stepdad, who suffered from addiction problems, left the family. But his fortune quickly turned around when he met a manager who wanted to represent him. His manager hooked him up with another aspiring artist, and the two made a video of a song they performed together, “The Girl Is Mine,” that eventually became an internet sensation.
When the video of their duet made its way to the producers of the “Ellen” show, the boys were invited to be on the show, and within a few weeks, they were performing the song on the talk show for Ellen DeGeneres and her audience.
Focusing on his writing, Dakota began writing songs with some of Nashville’s best producers and writers, including Taylor Swift producer Nathan Chapman. He soon received a call from Tim McGraw producer Byron Gallimore, who was so impressed with the young talent he eventually signed him to his new label, Streamsound Records.
Dakota had a pretty impressive backing band for several of the songs on his upcoming debut…Tim McGraw’s band, the Dancehall Doctors. During his initial audition in front of Tim, he cut his finger wide open on a guitar string, but continued to play and sing, never missing a beat while blood ran down the front of his guitar and onto the floor. His enthusiasm impressed McGraw so much, he got to work with the band.
The 18-year-old brings the powerful, raw energy of rock to his songs, but is definitely very much a country artist at heart. He describes his music this way -- “I sing like a rock singer like Steven Tyler, but I sound country. I think people are gonna like me, because my music is honest and it’s real. I really sell it live...I take performing and my career really seriously, ‘cause I gave up a lot to do this.”
If Dakota had to describe where he is in his life now in one word, it would be fearless. I’ve been through some tough things early on in my life, and that’s the reason I’m fearless…‘cause I’ve lived through those kind of things. So for me, being in front of people singing is no big deal compared to what I grew up dealing with. That’s the reason I’m so positive, because I don’t ever want my life to look like that again! I’m gonna make my life happy, and I believe what you put into something is what you get out. Life is what you make it, and I’m very excited about my future in music and what it can be!”