Emerging artist: Country singer Granger Smith is a two-decade overnight success

With his first big hit, “Backroad Song,” Granger Smith isn't some newcomer jumping on the beer-and-trucks bro-country bandwagon. Smith has actually been doing his thing since the late '90s, issuing a half-dozen self-released albums and building a fanbase with relentless touring.

Now, the mainstream has finally caught up to him. “Backroad Song” holds down No. 10 on the country singles chart and rises to No. 65 on the Hot 100, giving the singer-songwriter his first major smash. In between “ooh-ooh” chants, Smith sings, “I got the windows down, way out of town singing / Freedom is the miles I'm rollin' on / Out here cruising to a backroad song / I feel the wheels like a melody, like a radio dialing in strong / C'mon, c'mon sing along, sing along to my backroad song.”

Smith wrote “Backroad Song” with Frank Rogers, the celebrated writer and producer responsible for some of the biggest hits of the past 10 years, including Darius Rucker's “This,” Brad Paisley's “I'm Gonna Miss Her,” and Trace Adkins' “Swing.” Rogers and Smith co-wrote most of the singer's major-label debut Remington, which hits stores in March.

Smith recently told the Herald-Tribune he's thoroughly enjoying the ride with the success of “Backroad Song.” “Man, it’s a great feeling,” he said. “It’s the first thing I think about when I wake up and last thing before I go to bed. It’s my first major market single with a huge team around me and it’s doing well. It’s like a dream come true.”

Earlier in his career, Smith lived in Nashville for four years after earning a songwriting contract and played backing guitar for other artists, but he finally decided to return to his native Texas to finish school. There, he built a following from scratch by playing tiny bars and interacting with fans via social media.

“A lot of grassroots and a lot of miles on pickup trucks and Suburbans and lots of blown transmissions and nine albums and ultimately one word, connection,” Smith says when asked about how he made things work in Texas. “I finally learned to connect at concerts, tell my story and make it relatable. I found the things that were the best by seeing the reactions, seeing what people used as a bathroom break or screamed at the loudest.”

Because of his extensive touring history, Granger Smith's music is best experienced live. He has dates lined up at clubs nationwide through the end of February, so if “Backroad Song” catches your ear, take a look at his upcoming tour dates.