A Songwriter by Day and Professional Athlete by Night, Bryan Ruby is a man of many talents:
Growing up in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Bryan was raised in a family of five athletes. His parents, both former college coaches, introduced him to sports at an early age. Ruby played street hockey, basketball, and soccer, but quickly found a knack for baseball where he excelled on the field. Driving to Little League practice with his Dad, Bryan’s first exposure to music came through his father’s hard-worn but dependable CD collection: “He kept 3 in his car-no matter where we were going we would always listen to one of them: Mellencamp’s Greatest Hits album, Jimmy Buffet’s Songs You Know By Heart, and Bruce Springsteen’s The Rising. As a kid in the early 2000s, Bryan had a wide range of musical influences ranging from Top-40 Pop to R&B artists such as Trey Songz, Kelly Rowland, and Jennifer Hudson.
It wasn’t until his freshman year of high school that Ruby first heard country music. Acting on a tip from a classmate, Ruby purchased Kenny Chesney’s She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy on a 2GB iPod Nano he’d got for Christmas. “By the end of the first chorus I was hooked. There was something there that filled a void in my life: the music was more fun than anything I’d ever heard and I just connected to it. It felt so natural, and from then on I got wrapped up in learning about the artists and songwriters behind my favorite songs. The thing was, it wasn’t cool in my high school to like Country. I didn’t care- I knew early on that country music was going to be a big part of my life.”
As he matured, music became the dominant force whenever Ruby wasn’t in school or on the ballfield:
“By the age of 14 I was regularly calling into 92.5 WXTU- the local country station- trying to win tickets. I memorized all the times for their daily giveaways, I even won a few times and got to see Jason Aldean, Parmalee, and Love and Theft.” During his senior year of high school in 2014, Ruby cold-called that same country station and talked the promotions assistant into giving him a job as an intern. “I was the youngest person in there-it was weeks before I could work up the courage to introduce myself to the DJs. My job was pretty simple-cleaning out the promo closet-but I didn’t care. I loved just being in the room at the time.”
While at the station, Ruby met Kristian Bush of Grammy-winning Country duo Sugarland, who was on radio tour promoting his solo project Southern Gravity at the time. In a brief conversation with Bush after the radio interviews were over, Ruby learned Bush had attended Emory University in Atlanta, GA. Encouraged by Bush’s humble and approachable demeanor in spite of worldwide success, Ruby asked Bush for songwriting advice and was inspired by what he said.
After high school, Bryan was recruited by several schools and offered a Division 1 Scholarship to play baseball for a school in New Jersey. However, he turned it down and chose instead to head South to play for Division III Emory, Bush’s alma matter. “My rationale was simple: it was the Southernmost school that had recruited me, good weather, good baseball, and the only school that offered me with any type of Country Music connection.” During his 2 years in Atlanta, Bryan once again met his idol after Bush’s annual Thanksgiving Eddie’s Attic show, once again asking Bush for advice. This time, Bush advised Ruby to begin making trips to Nashville to meet people in the music industry.
After 2 years in Atlanta, Bryan decided to transfer schools and auditioned for a vocal scholarship to Vassar College in upstate New York. He spent 5 semesters there and was a 2-Year captain of the school’s baseball team, leading the team to two conference tournament appearances. At Vassar, Bryan’s passion for music began to take off: “The scholarship gave me free singing lessons and I also started learning guitar. I changed my major to Media Studies and focused on Music Media, formed a 6-piece Country Rock band we called ‘Rubies in the Rough’, and started playing solo gigs at local bars, restaurants, and coffee shops. It was no-rest-for-the-weary in college…Our band was kicking it. Baseball was in full swing, and I had my solo shows going on top of that. ”
After another year of writing songs, Ruby showed up to a local writer’s round and caught the attention of Grammy-nominated Guitarist Terry Champlin. Champlin offered to put in a word with Chris Connors, a sound engineer he knew with Production credits on records ranging from pop-superstar John Legend to British R&B singer Craig David and Southern Cristian-Rock band NEED2BREATHE. Based out of New York City, Connors first agreed to do just one initial tracking session with Ruby. After 2 days in the studio, Connors and Ruby agreed on a more permanent tracking schedule, making Ruby the first college kid he’d ever taken on as a client.
Ruby began making trips to New York City to record with Connors, even dropping out of school for a semester to give him more time to write. “That semester off I was really making it work-working as an Uber driver in Pennsylvania and crashing in an 8 by 11 foot room that I sublet from my cousin’s apartment. Every penny went into music and we cut some great demos…”
“After we got our first set of demos I started making more trips to Nashville to shop them around. We’d get feedback, I’d head back up North to cut more songs, and we’d repeat the process. The songs weren’t great but we were making progress and people were starting to pay attention…”
With one more season of college baseball to play, Ruby returned to his team and band at school, continuing with the New York studio trips and quick Nashville visits on the rare off-weekends from baseball. After an explosive senior season in which he hit .308 in New York’s Liberty League and was named 1st Team All-Conference, Ruby signed to play baseball professionally overseas for the Frankfurt Eagles in Germany.
“This time was a little bit better-the team was putting me up in a hotel downtown. I’d write songs by day and play baseball by night. I even made a routine out of opening up my guitar case at the local train station and playing for tips.”
After the season was over, Ruby returned to New York to claim a $5,000 songwriting prize he’d won in absentia while in Germany. For two months in the Big Apple, Ruby used his prize money to fund the creation of several dozen demos for himself and his New York songwriting friends. He moved to Nashville on October 30, 2019 and has been immersed in Music City’s songwriting community ever since. Bryan’s first professional cuts as a songwriter are due out in late 2020!