Aaron Carter freely admits to being a bad student. He was a rebel in high school, “shitty” once in a while, getting in trouble here and there. You’d never catch it with a book that didn’t have “Spark Notes” on the cover; he had no interest in Shakespeare, Hemmingway, Salinger, authors of classical or contemporary works.
And yet the chorus of the song “Fairytale Kind of Love,” which he wrote with a friend, Carter sings, “It’s a first kiss from Walmart, a kind of fairytale love,” a line so simple that the words themselves must have been on sale, and yet an obvious bargain of pure emotion and imagery.
Carter co-wrote the song for a friend whose daughter was getting married, and based the lyrics on the future son-in-law’s wishes and the history of their relationship.
“The difference between me and a lot of musicians, I would say, is that every song of mine has a story behind it,” Carter said. Some of these songs involve her rebellious days, including one titled “Sorry, Mama”, and nearly all of them touch on her past. He released six and said he has another 20 songs he plans to release periodically through 2024.
Many of Carter’s songs will have you speeding down country dirt roads, and then they’ll stick in your head for the rest of the day. For all his simple “get-‘er-done” puns, Carter has an undeniable knack for music with a hook. This earned him one of his first breaks, a live performance on Maverick Radio in Mebane.
A friend of Carter’s has a store that advertises Maverick Radio, and he urged some people at the station to give Carter a chance. The singer sent the station manager a song called “Hit Rewind”, which was unsuccessful with the Maverick. Undeterred, Carter emailed his next release – “This Town” – and was quickly contacted.
“I got a phone call within hours,” he said. “The guy from The Maverick said, ‘Hey, do you want to come in and play it live on the radio?’ And I’m like, ‘Man, do you want it pre-recorded or live?’ Because I was super nervous. But then I was like, ‘Well, let’s do it live. Let’s go.’ I played it live on the radio and they loved it They picked it up and when I went to play two more songs later the people at Maverick told me they were getting a lot of good feedback on my music.
It seems that Carter’s music appeals to a lot more people than those who listen to the Maverick. Carter is part of an organization called the International Singer/Songwriter Association, which was founded by a Nashville musician and is dedicated to supporting and serving independent artists.
“It was a great way for me to connect with other people who are also independent artists,” he said. “I once started putting out music, and then songs like ‘This Town’ started getting on the radio in Australia and Britain, and a few other places. Because I was part of this organization, my music started to be recognized.
And does he and his music get noticed. Carter recently received an email from the International Singer/Songwriter Association alerting him that he had been nominated for three awards, including Male Vocalist of the Year; United States Rising Star of the Year; and Male Vocalist of the Year for the song “This Town”.
The winners will be announced on August 6 at an event in Atlanta. “It’s a big deal in Atlanta,” he said. “Red carpet, there’ll be media, there’ll be other musicians. I just bought myself a suit, because I’ve never owned one before. I went and got one and everything, and I’m super excited about it.
Carter is from Rockwood, Tennessee, a small town about 30 miles outside of Knoxville. Growing up, he played football until an injury sidelined him, leaving him restless. His parents gave him an acoustic guitar in hopes that it would keep him busy, even though they were skeptical. Gradually – and with the help of YouTube – he learned the G and C chords and played the lights of the day. He never lost his interest in the instrument and began to put together his own tunes, writing songs from a notebook he carried with him to write down words and thoughts about growing up in a small town.
“Every song has a story behind it, and almost every story has something to do with some part of my life,” he said.
When he was in junior high, Carter became involved with a Burlington-based nonprofit that did missionary work in Haiti. The experience changed Carter’s life. So much so that he moved to Whitsett so he could continue working with the organization.
He is also an Advanced EMT at Alamance County EMS. He attends Rowan/Cabarrus Community College, where he is in the process of becoming a paramedic.
“My dad worked on the ambulance for about 15 years,” Carter said. “When I was in high school, I was trying to figure out what direction I wanted to go with my life. Back then – they could still do it now – you could do these things called spotter rides. Whenever I I wasn’t at school or busy, I would go to work with my dad and get in the ambulance with them and watch. After a few shifts, I said to him, “I think that’s what I want to do. Of course he tried to talk me out of it, but I ended up going to school and graduating and I’ve been on a truck for about seven years now. I love it.”
If his music career takes off and can support him financially, Carter said he would pursue this path. But he intends to keep his job with emergency medical services as a plan B.
“I will never let my certifications expire.”
He doesn’t let his two passions intersect either. Carter said his basic mentality was to leave his job outside his home. “You have these really good calls, you have the really bad ones, but I always try to leave it all outside the door.”
On May 27, Carter performed a free concert to a packed house in her hometown. It was his first time playing Rockwood and his first time in front of his mom and dad.
“It was pretty awesome having them there cheering me on,” he said.
Just recently, Carter approached the owners of Whiskey Sowers in downtown Mebane, to see if he could get a gig. Carter didn’t have a band and was playing an acoustic set, so he was told to come out on Thursday nights when the performers are playing acoustic. A few days later, his first song debuted on the Maverick, and less than an hour later Carter received a call from the owner of Whiskey Sowers, asking if he would be interested in opening for the 15th. July. Since that call, Carter’s has received more opportunities to play at the site, including opening Kasey Tyndall.
Carter is now trying to form a band and plans to make his first collection a double album, with more than 20 original songs he collected.
“I take on the music industry,” Carter said. “I don’t need a label. They are all written by me. I’m trying to make a statement to the music industry that says, ‘Look, I’m not here to have fun and play. That’s what I want to do in life.
Aaron Carter will perform again at Whiskey Sowers on July 15 at 9 p.m. You can find out more about him and his music by going to:
You can stream his music on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Pandora Radio and YouTube Music.