Lucas Hoge understands that great songs and an amiable stage presence are the keys to artistic gold. But a little marketing savvy never hurts. In an era where “fan engagement” is the prominent phrase, Hoge has practiced just that by partnering with outdoor outfitter Cabela’s, Wrangler, Gamble Family Vineyards and recently, Southwest Airlines. On the musical side of the fan engagement coin, Hoge released an album in 2017, “Dirty South,” that debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. The latest single from the album, “Power of Garth,” is now at radio.

The affable, personable singer sat down with “Sports & Entertainment Nashville” at Country Radio Seminar to talk music, marketing and his charitable endeavors. He’s excited about his new connection with Southwest Airlines, which presented him with a unique opportunity: a Brand Ambassador for the company’s Storytellers program. “There are 12 of us in the program and I am the only musical artist,” Hoge says. “We document our trips everywhere we fly on Southwest. I will tell a little story about my experience. I go from checking my bags to the final destination. Then, I will put those on my social media accounts and Southwest puts them on theirs. It’s going to be a lot of fun.” Hoge will also participate in Southwest-sponsored events during the year.

Partnerships like this are becoming almost a necessity, rather than a luxury, for contemporary artists, especially for those on small, independent record labels. They help pay the bills and certainly keep your name in front of the public. “They are very important,” assesses Hoge matter-of-factly. “I have been able to align myself with a lot of different brands. I am an official music ambassador for Cabela’s, which is a great company. And now, I just signed this deal with Southwest. It’s really helpful for my career.”

Hoge’s latest single, “Power of Garth,” honors the influence Garth Brooks has on Hoge’s career. Photo courtesy of Adkins Publicity

Of course, it’s ultimately the music that secures those deals. Hoge has plenty of that under his belt, mainly with the acclaimed “Dirty South” record that launched the title track and “Boom Boom,” which hit No. 1 on the CMT 12 Pack for seven weeks. The new single, “Power of Garth,” stands as a tribute to Garth Brooks, the artist who had a considerable influence on Hoge’s career. “I just loved Garth’s music and the stories he would tell,” Hoge recalled for his website bio. He told “S&E Nashville,” “I have been waiting to get that out for a long time. I think people will relate to it.”

When he’s not in the studio or touring, Hoge devotes time to patriotic and charitable causes. He has visited and performed for the U.S. military on several occasions, playing for troops on overseas bases. Recently, he teamed up with Special Olympics Tennessee for what one might label a “cool” event, as the celebrity jumper for their annual Polar Plunge in Nashville.

That did involve jumping into a pool of icy cold water, outdoors on a Saturday in February. He enlisted some friends for a plunging team called Hoge Wild to help raise funds for Special Olympics Tennessee. “I’ve never done something like that before,” Hoge noted a few days before the plunge. “I don’t know if I’m looking forward to the actual jump, but I know they have these warming tents you can run into, so it will be fine. It’s an opportunity to do something fun and raise money for a good cause. They are a great organization.”

During the much warmer summer months, you can find Hoge at many of the fairs and festivals that dot the country music landscape every year, “We do a lot of fairs and festivals,” Hoge smiles. “We have a bunch of them throughout the Midwest this year, and those are always fun. People just hang out and have a good time. They’re my favorite shows to play. We hope to see everyone out there.”