Since he released his debut track, “Drunk Me,” in March 2018, Riser House/Columbia Nashville artist Mitchell Tenpenny has set new standards for breakout success in country music. The 2X Platinum-certified, No. 1 hit was taken from his premier album, Telling All My Secrets, which arrived in December 2018 and earned him the best first week showing for any major label country debut LP of that year. The breakout song also introduced Tenpenny’s “unforgettable voice” and “highly creative slant on country music” (Think Country Music), inspired by his lifelong love of artists as disparate as Michael Jackson, John Mayer, and the Oak Ridge Boys. His latest release, “Broken Up,” which arrived July 3, is one of his most personal releases to date. An arena-ready anthem with an emotionally raw and heartfelt message, the song was actually written in the hours leading up to a celebration.
“We were just killing time before a surprise bachelor party for one of our friends,” Tenpenny says of writing “Broken Up.” “I started playing this guitar part and humming melodies, and we were talking about the idea of someone still being broken up about something. The play on words intrigued me, and we had the song written in about 35 minutes!”
That the song was penned in an impromptu session speaks to Tenpenny’s creative heft, which he’s had with him since the beginning. As a Nashville, Tennessee native, he grew up just down the road from where he’s chartered his career as a singer-songwriter. He attended Lipscomb University, where he played football, before transferring to Middle Tennessee State University and deciding to pursue a career in music. After graduating with a music business degree, Tenpenny landed a number of popular song cuts, including Granger Smith’s Top 10 hit, “If the Boot Fits,” and soon signed a publishing deal with Sony/ATV.
“I wanted to be a songwriter,” he recalls. “That was always the dream. But I always loved playing shows, and that response was always there. When it started to feel like [being a recording artist] was something that could actually happen, that’s when I started going down that road and giving it everything I have.”
With continued support from those around him, and a catalog of hundreds of songs written, Tenpenny committed to the artist path, signing a record deal with Riser House/Columbia Nashville as part of a joint-venture between Sony Music Nashville and the imprint in January 2018. After releasing a string of fan-favorite singles that year, he closed out 2018 with the release of Telling All My Secrets.
Tenpenny welcomed the 11-song project with performances on NBC’s “Today” and ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” while “Drunk Me” was praised by the New York Times as one of the best songs of 2018 and included in multiple Amazon Music “Most Played” and “Best Of” year-end lists. The single, which Tenpenny co-wrote and co-produced, also made history by achieving the highest entry ever for a new artist on Nielsen’s On Demand Audio Core Country Streaming chart and has amassed nearly 450 million streams since its release. The “winning” singer (the New York Times) has joined stars like Luke Bryan, Maren Morris, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Jake Owen on the road, and in October 2019, he kicked off his first headlining voyage, the “Anything She Says Tour,” with labelmates and award-winning duo Seaforth joining as support.
Seaforth also featured on Tenpenny’s upbeat single, “Anything She Says,” which has garnered over 46 million on-demand streams. In 2019, Tenpenny was nominated for New Male Artist of the Year at the ACM Awards and Breakthrough Video (“Drunk Me”) at the CMT Music Awards. Additionally, he was the only country artist named one of Pandora’s 2019 Artists to Watch, adding to his placement on other honorific lists including Music Row’s Next Big Thing and The Tennessean’s Next Nashville Stars. Now, with “Broken Up” populating radio stations across the country and new music on the way, Tenpenny is on track to becoming one of country music’s most celebrated mainstays.