Recently the members of Parmalee, for the first time, set foot on hallowed ground. They debuted on stage at The Grand Ole Opry.
According to lead vocalist and guitarist Matt Thomas, it was the culmination of many years of sacrifice and gritty roadwork. “We started this band in 2001 and took every show we could,” he explains. “We were out there for 10 years before we got signed.”
Thomas, along with his brother Scott, cousin Barry and best friend Josh, grew up in and around eastern North Carolina, where they built a large and loyal fan base. Their live performances expanded to major hubs like New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta to further establish a presence.
“If nobody had reached out we probably would’ve hung it up.”
Because they were songwriters many music industry peers urged them to move to Nashville. “In 2010 a country artist we knew recorded our song ‘Carolina’ but his label folded before the song was released,” says Matt. “He was gonna take our song to radio so we thought that was the place to be.”
So, on a wing and a prayer, the band relocated to Nashville, camping in an RV for a month, with the sole purpose of networking. The quartet developed a writing and recording relationship with New Voice Entertainment’s David Fanning. In fact, the band recorded their hit, “Musta Had a Good Time” and “Carolina,” with him in the back of that RV. Fanning introduced the band to Broken Bow Music Group’s Benny Brown who was impressed with the demos and wanted to schedule a showcase when Parmalee returned from a short North Carolina tour.
One night after a September 2010 show Matt and Scott were robbed at gunpoint. Shots were fired. Scott, who had a concealed weapons permit, fired back. He sustained three wounds that left him in a coma. Miraculously, he made a full recovery and played the showcase, which led to their label deal in February 2011. “Our fans did benefits and charity events to help with Scott’s medical bills when we were off the road for two months,” says Matt. “If nobody had reached out we probably would’ve hung it up. Thank God we had the fans behind us!”
– Eric A. Harabadian