A local country singer is looking to make it to the national stage his own way.
Country music can have a lot in common: pickup trucks, open roads, girls in blue jeans, etc. It’s this idea that all country music is the same that county singer Clark Manson wants to get rid of.
To hell with moonshine and tailgating, he says.
“I like to write songs that people can relate to,” says Manson. “It’s not a short process and making a living from it is a hard thing to do.”
He writes songs that he wants to hear and connect with, so whether that is about giving a girl a kiss or watching her drive that pickup truck, Manson heads to Nashville writing full-throttle.
Manson says his usual process is to write for a period of time, take a break and come back to reevaluate. He says that it can take up to seven hours to write one song, and even then it’s not done.
Often, there are other people sitting alongside of him, trying to do the exact same thing: Come up with something original. Though some songwriters pass their song on to an artist, Manson likes to put it on the record as soon as he can.
“Some people can write a song right away, and others will wait till the last minute,” says Manson. “It’s up to that individual.”
Manson’s main goal is to write all new music and hints that a radio single is on its way.
He says that it would be “a dream come true” to turn on the radio and hear one of his songs playing. However, a few years ago, Manson was on a different career path that had little to do with music.
Dreaming in his hometown of Covington, Ohio, Manson did not expect that soon the reality of being a singer and songwriter would be knocking at his door.
After graduating from Covington Exempted Village Schools, Manson went to Wittenberg University before transferring to Wright State University. Instead of earning a degree in musical performance, Manson’s majors included economics and business management.
While he tried to overlook a life in the music industry, the pull was just too strong.
Manson began to perform in university bars, singing covers of favorite country songs. Those university bars started filling up, and he says he unexpectedly met a promoter.
It just kind of happened, he adds.
Starting in the summer of 2013, Manson became officially sponsored by Jagermeister USA. Since then, he’s performed at country concerts, festivals and shows from Michigan to Texas.
The more Manson traveled, the larger his fan base grew, and so did the requests for autographs.
But Manson knew that his signature was awful.
“I remember a guy commenting on how bad my signature was. He came up with the signature I use now, right then and there,” Manson says. “The most unique autograph I’ve ever written was on a girl’s thigh. She got it tattooed there the next day.”
Manson’s Twitter page has over 60,000 followers and his fans dubbed themselves “Mansonheads,” but early on, Manson’s fan base was much smaller.
In his hometown, he mostly played for friends and family as his love for music grew, but he recalls a George Strait concert where his desire to perform blossomed. He wanted to be like his idols, but didn’t think it would be possible.
“I knew that I wanted to be that guy playing on stage,” says Manson.
Manson says that he can think of one particular family member that was a musical influence.
“My great uncle, who was a country singer, provides me with inspiration, because I knew I wanted to be like him,” says Manson. “I talk to him a lot, because the principle of what he did is the same now.”
The past year has been a busy one for Manson, but he knows that he has the support of his family.
“No matter what, they are there for me and I always have their support,” he says. “Though they don’t come to every show, they make it out to the ones in the area.”
Manson’s favorite concert to date was the 2014 Country Concert in Fort Loramie, Ohio.
“I freaked out a lot because I was like, ‘Did I just do that?’’’ says Manson. “It was the best experience.”
While other singers dream of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Manson has his sights on two places near Dayton: the Nutter Center and Hobart Arena.
“I’ve seen so many shows at Hobart,” he says.
Along his journey, Manson has met many of his idols, like Luke Bryan. He not only admires them for the way they perform, but how they interact with the audience.
“It’s not just the way they deal with themselves on stage, but off the stage as well,” says Manson. “They know how to treat people.”
Though taking on a full-time music career has always been a dream of Manson’s, he says he still enjoys playing at the bars that first booked him, like Z’s in Piqua.
“Coming back to the area is coming home,” he says, “even if it is just for a couple days.”
Z’s owner, Glenn Holbrooks, says that Manson has a great personality and has a strong vibe with Z’s customers.
“He’s made great strides, and we always have a full house when he is here,” says Holbrooks. “We schedule him three to four times per year, but we’d like to have him every week.”
With his new EP I’m On It being released, Manson can see how a song he wrote and recorded has great potential. His fans love it, too, causing his single to make the Top Ten on iTunes’ country albums chart in July and selling thousands digitally.
“I’ve had the same outlook the entire time,” Manson says. “[I’m] never better than anyone else and if anything, have made changes for the better.”
He does have advice for those considering a musical career.
“Be the best you can be. Take advantage of what you have. Don’t force things,” he says. “Ultimately, live your life.”