To the country music world, Dierks Bentley is as real as Nashville gets. Fresh off his co-hosting of the 2016 ACM awards this month, he is a Top Ten singer and entertainer who embodies country music's steadfast support of our nation's military. He is also the son of a World War II Army Veteran.
Bentley brings an impressive discography and biography -- starting in 2003 when Capitol Nashville released his self-titled debut album, he's produced nine albums and several number one hits. The album's first single, "What Was I Thinkin'," reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts later that year.
Two years later, Bentley married his wife Cassidy, received the CMA Horizon Award (for New Artist of the Year) and was accepted into the Grand Ole Opry as one of its youngest members. Bentley is also a CMA winner for Best Video, ACM Awards winner for Top New Artist, and an 11-time Grammy nominee.
A father of three and very cognizant of the impact of fatherhood his music has inspired millions, much as his father inspired him.
Bentley's father, Leon Bentley, was a stockbroker, bank vice president, and a WWII Army 2ndLieutenant, who passed away in 2012. The elder's passing really hit home with Bentley, who penned the inspirational song "Riser," saying it reminded him of his father:
"I'm a riser. I'm a get up off the ground, don't run and hider. Hey pushin' comes to shovin', baby I'm a fighter. When darkness comes to town, I'm a lighter. A get out aliver, of the fire, survivor. I'm a riser, I'm a riser, I'm a riser."
"What a feeling that must be that I will never know, to put on that uniform, American flag patch on your shoulder, and you're out there literally fighting for the flag, fighting with your brothers next to you and for everyone back home," Dierks told the Great American Country cable channel. "We can never really honestly have a sense of how that feels, but certainly we can honor them."
"He (Bentley's dad) grew up in a town of 1200 people and the Army was a chance to go overseas and see some of the world. He really enjoyed the men in his company and lost some friends over there," Dierks said, according to the Boot. While he was alive, “he [didn't] talk too much about that aspect of it, but he had nothing but good memories of being able to serve and be part of that."
According to Music City USA News, Bentley also attributes his passion for country music to his dad. “My dad's my biggest influence in country music because my dad loved country radio, so we always drove around listening to country radio — George Strait and Hank Williams and Randy Travis – and all those guys. So, without him, I wouldn't be doing this, for sure.”
Dierks started out in the most unlikely of places for a Country Star: New Jersey, where he attended boarding school during his teens. After a college stint in Vermont, he ultimately graduated from Tennessee's Vanderbilt University, and began his professional life in Nashville. One of his first jobs was at the country music station, the Nashville Network (which has since become Spike TV).
Thanks to his father's influence, he is also a big supporter of the military, and most recently the ACM Lifting Lives program. The program put on a charitable event Party for a Cause – a three-day music festival in Las Vegas last month – to raise funds for veterans and their families. Bentley headlined the concert just before the April 3 ACM Awards which he co-hosted with Luke Bryan.
"ACM Lifting Lives is involved with helping military families get back on their feet and readjust to civilian life. I can't even imagine how difficult that must be,” he told People Magazine. “These men and women spend their whole lives training for one particular skill set and then have to come back here and adjust to this world."
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