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Country singer-songwriter Oliver Anthony made music history this year by becoming the first
artist in history to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard charts without previously having a song on
the charts. He is also the first living male songwriter to chart 13 songs simultaneously in
Billboard’s Top 50 Digital Song Sales.
A musical poet of the people, Anthony became an overnight national sensation with the release
of “Rich Men North of Richmond,” which has been dubbed the nation’s “blue-collar anthem.”
But it resonates powerfully with Americans from all walks of life around the world.
The song has been streamed more than 77 million times on YouTube and more than 115 million
across streaming platforms. Five of his other songs have made iTunes’ Top 10, with “I’ve Got to
Get Sober” reaching No. 3. “Ain’t Got a Dollar” claimed the No. 1 spot on Spotify’s Viral 50 list
and No. 2 on ITunes.
Anthony is quickly changing the way musical artists release music and engage with their fans.
He speaks directly to his fans through videos shot in his truck or surrounded by his dogs
whenever the mood strikes. He doesn’t rely on others to tell his story or interpret his intentions.
Earning comparisons to Bob Dylan, he is a truly authentic artist who speaks the truth for those
who don’t have a platform to reveal their struggles.
His passionate voice, featuring a unique and emotional rasp shaped by his personal battles,
captures the despair of those living without hope, especially those who live in small-town or
rural America. His songs address the nation’s wealth gap, suicide rate, high taxes, and imbalance
and abuse of power. Variety says, “It almost seems as if Oliver Anthony hadn’t come along,
someone would have had to invent him.”
“Rich Men North of Richmond” has been embraced by people on both sides of the political
aisles. For instance, “Rich Men North of Richmond” was recently played at the beginning of the
first Republican presidential debate, which was ironic given that some of the people onstage
were the same people Anthony addressed in the song.
“‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ touches on my time in Western North Carolina working in the
factory. It talks about some people that live north of Richmond, Virginia, who I’m sure you’re
very aware of, who make life a little more difficult than it should be,” he said.
Of course, he knows of which he writes and sings. Anthony, 31, lives off the grid in a camper in
Farmville, Va., with his wife and two children (with another one on the way in November). He’s
been public about overcoming addiction and depression.
He dropped out of school at age 17 and later earned a G.E.D. before working industrial jobs in
Virginia and North Carolina. He was unable to work for about six months in 2013 after an
accident at a North Carolina paper mill fractured his skull. More recently, he worked in outside
sales in manufacturing before his music career exploded.
“I found an outlet in this music,” adding that he “started getting messages from people saying
how much the music was helping them with their struggles in their lives.”