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Hardy

Hardy

Celebrating the kind of little Southern towns he calls home, Hardy is rooted in down-and-dirty country and arena rock. On his first two EPs for Big Loud -- 2018's This Ole Boy and the next year's Where to Find Me -- and his 2020 full-length debut, A Rock, he mined this macho blend without succumbing to the amiable swagger of bro-country or the stylish country-R&B fashions of the late 2010s. Separate from his recording career, Hardy worked as a songwriter, scoring a hit with "Up Down," a single from Morgan Wallen featuring Florida Georgia Line, which led that superstar duo to collaborate with him on their 2018 hit "Simple." Hardy returned to both the rock and country charts in 2022 when "Sold Out" reached the former and "Wait in the Truck" appeared on the latter. Hardy melded these two aspects of his musical personality on The Mockingbird & the Crow, a double album released in 2023.

Hailing from Philadelphia, Mississippi, Hardy was born Michael Hardy. He headed to Nashville in the early 2010s with the intention of breaking into the country music industry. First, he attended Middle Tennessee State University as a student in their Recording Industry Management program; he wound up graduating with a degree in songwriting from the college. While he was studying, he self-released an EP called Redneck Recipe in 2013; he also posted his songs to the Internet. These tracks caught the attention of Dennis Matkosky -- the writer of Michael Sembello's Flashdance hit "Maniac," as well as LeAnn Rimes' "I Need You" (she also happened to be a cousin of Hardy's grandfather, who signed the fledgling singer/songwriter to his publishing company Watsky Music).

Hardy landed his first charting hit with "Up Down," a song he co-wrote with Brad Clawson and CJ Solar. Morgan Wallen recorded it with the support of Florida Georgia Line, taking it to number one on the Billboard Country Airplay chart after its November 2017 release. Things began to happen swiftly for Hardy after that. FGL recorded "Simple" -- a tune Hardy wrote with the duo, along with Mark Holman -- and took it to number one while making an appearance on Seth Ennis' single "Call Your Mama." By the point of the Ennis single, Michael Hardy had signed to Big Loud and adopted the stage name Hardy.

This Ole Boy, Hardy's debut EP, was produced by Joey Moi -- the producer behind FGL's hits -- and was issued in October 2018. Where to Find Me arrived on its heels in January 2019. September brought the release of Hixtape, Vol. 1, a country variation on a hip-hop mixtape featuring cameos by Cole Swindell, Morgan Wallen, and Thomas Rhett. "One Beer," a single pulled from Hixtape, Vol. 1 featuring Lauren Alaina and Devin Dawson, became Hardy's first Country Airplay single in 2020, leading to its appearan4ce on A Rock, Hardy's debut full-length album. Arriving in September 2020, A Rock also featured the hit "Give Heaven Some Hell," which reached 11 on Country Airplay in 2021.

In 2021, Hardy appeared on the Dierks Bentley single "Beers on Me" and Brantley Gilbert's "The Worst Country Song of All Time." On his own, he released Hixtape, Vol. 2 and a cover of Puddle of Mudd's "Blurry," telegraphing his move toward hard rock in 2022, a transition marked by the Billboard Hard Rock chart-topper "Sold Out." Despite his Rock success, Hardy also concentrated on the Country market, reaching the Country Airplay Top Ten with the Lainey Wilson collaboration "Wait in the Truck." He brought these two musical personalities together on the 2023 double album The Mockingbird & the Crow; the former represented his country side, the latter his rock personality. Upon its January release, it reached number one on both Billboard's Country and Rock charts, while debuting at four on the Top 200. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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