For Nevada, Iowa native Neil Hewitt, life has been a series of small steps on a musical journey leading to a huge leap, a record label deal with Nashville's ATP Records and the release of his first single "The Request," which reached #65 on Music Row Chart, #9 on New Music Weekly, and #3 on Indie Country Top 30. With the help of his debut single, Neil has gained a greater following and has even landed a sponsorship with Iowa based agricultural supply store giant, Theisen's. The company is now selling Neil's album "Roll the Dice" in all of its 20 locations around the mid-west. While Neil is only 22, he's been traveling on this musical journey since the age of 11 and, with years of hard work, he has developed a maturity that can be heard in his soothing voice and straight forward lyrics. His debut album, Roll the Dice, has a traditional country sound that includes influences from artists such as Travis Tritt, Tracy Lawrence, Vince Gill, and Johnny Cash. Neil's break in the music industry came when he recently graced the stage of 12th and Porter, one of Nashville's most popular venues that has played host to music's biggest artists such as Keith Urban, Neil Young, and 3 Doors Down. It was there he was discovered by ATP Records president Mark Alan Thompson. Neil's recent success has allowed him to perform on some big stages, including opening for country star James Otto in the summer of 2010.
Prior to being signed to a Nashville label, Neil spent all of his teens and early college years balancing school with paid gigs and performances across Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Kansas at various state fairs, rodeos, bars, and weddings. Although performing was his main source of an income, Neil also took on a part-time job at Iowa State University. "I had a rather interesting job while in college," Neil laughs. "I was on the ISU lighting crew. I was part of a team of about 10 ISU students that worked for the university changing light bulbs all around campus. That's right, we changed light bulbs!" This job kept Neil humble as his musical career continued to grow throughout the region.
Neil's first step into music was at age 11 when he attended a church camp and observed the camp counselors playing guitar. Immediately upon returning home, he signed up for guitar lessons with his parents' blessing. Since he was kind of shy at the time, Neil kept this new endeavor to himself, not telling any of his friends. It wasn't until age 14 at his 8th grade talent show that Neil performed for the first time in front of anyone. He found himself in front of 140 of his fellow students with his acoustic guitar and a voice that was being heard for the very first time. Neil had chosen to perform an early hit by singer/songwriter Jimmy Wayne called "Stay Gone," and as he let the last chord of the song ring out from his guitar, the entire 8th grade class jumped to its feet and cheered! The crowd loved Neil's rendition of the hit so much they asked for an encore performance. It was at that moment Neil knew he was destined to become a country singer.
Each thing Neil has done on his musical journey has been a stepping stone to where he is today, and he doesn't plan on slowing down! The biggest thing Neil has learned from all his experiences is that opportunities can sometimes be few and far between. He is grateful that he has been very fortunate in his career thus far, and he possesses the fire and passion to seize all the future opportunities that lay ahead.