Country musician Robbie Walden has moved closer to the main stage.
Walden, a 2000 Sequim High School graduate, signed a deal with Perry Music Group, Inc., part of Universal Music Corporation.
His manager, Brian Wayne Perry, is the son of Wayne Perry, founder of the group that helped Tim McGraw, Toby Keith and The Backstreet Boys with hit songs and albums.
Perry chose Walden because he saw and heard a natural talent.
"This kid is already a legend and hasn't even got started yet," Perry said.
Walden has started recording at Tacoma's Pacific Studios with producer Mark Simmons.
"Robbie is from Washington so he wanted to support the local music economy. If you go to Nashville and you aren't from there, then it (costs) $75,000. We won't need to spend near that here," Perry said.
Simmons will produce seven more albums for Walden.
Perry said investors from larger labels are looking at Walden but are waiting for the first new album to be finished, by the end of April. It will be available on major download sites and a digistick - a portable flash drive - will be for sale with music videos, behind-the-scenes footage and photos.
Walden still plays with his lead guitarist Henry Smith, but the Smith and Walden duet has grown into Robbie Walden and the Gunslingers.
While recording, Walden met studio artists Colby Sanders, melody guitar; Eric Robert, piano/organ; Jeff Leonard, bass; and Darin Watkins, drums.
Perry hired them for the band.
"Robbie's voice is powerful. All of his songs are all very meaningful. I've never heard a nothing song," said new Gunslingers member Robert.
The new band helps round out Walden's act, but Perry said they aren't quite ready to push Walden nationally.
"Seventy percent of country music is bought in Texas," Perry said.
"I'm known as a good acoustic act here, but it is tough to break into the scene," Walden said.
He finds MySpace, Facebook and Twitter useful to build a fan base without expensive advertising or touring. On Walden's MySpace page, he had 19,000 plays in one day.
Perry encourages people to add Walden as a friend on these sites for album updates and to listen to his music.
Walden's song "Take Me Home" is being pitched to country musician Toby Keith as a potential single. The song is about Walden's adopted brother, Army Staff Sgt. Jesse Williams, who died in Iraq, leaving a wife and an 11-month-old daughter.
Walden's story-based songs are meant to relate to all sorts of people. His themes include faith, redemption and alcohol abuse. He's a Christian but said most Christian music appeals only to people of the same faith and he feels led to branch out.
"The Lord said, 'Bring me a new song,' so I do. I write them to be true to me," Walden said.
"I play in bars, but I'm a normal person. I'm a Christian. I don't want to make people turn away from my music because of that. I just want to share my gift."
Walden enlisted in the Army in 2000 and served a tour in Iraq. He was a reconnaissance sniper in a Stryker brigade before he was medically evacuated and honorably discharged after being wounded in combat.
Walden has two albums available now: a full-length acoustic album, "Head Over Heels," 2004, and a live band, five-song album, "Stepping Stones," 2008.
Matthew Nash can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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