When Luke Pell charmed fans across the nation on season 11 of “The Bachelorette,” little did they know of the artist behind the bright smile and sweet personality.
Pell was a fan favorite from the start, winning over the hearts of many as he progressed further into the show, making it to the top four before his shocking elimination. While his hopes may have been dashed on the reality TV show, he’s now focusing his energy on his true passion – music.
Growing up in a small town in Texas, Pell says country music has always been a part of his life. “I grew up on country music and my life [was] kind of embedded in it and that small town life,” he says, adding that his first major country show was seeing Clint Black at the Houston Livestock and Rodeo Show. “A lot of the lyrics and content that’s in country music spoke to me personally and what I write ends up being what relates to a lot of middle American, blue collar folks that live that country life too. It was an easy fit.”
After graduating high school, Pell entered the military, an experience that gave him an alternative world view and new experiences. “My time in military, it pulled me into some different places far away from what my comfort zone was,” Pell says. And these places took him across the world, from being deployed to Afghanistan to attending college in New York where Pell took up the art of songwriting with a guitar in hand.
“It was just kind of my escape,” he says about how songwriting helped him deal with his intense surroundings and the feeling of homesickness. “’The military definitely affected it and molded it and it made me appreciate what I had. So those kind of things were what came up and kind of started the development of me as a songwriter.”
But it was a life-threatening heart condition he endured back in 2010 while in the military that kept him in the ICU for several days – and inspired his current single. “I had to face life and death in a real way,” he reveals. But it was this harrowing situation that led to a track called “Pretty Close,” which tells the story of how an ex-girlfriend came to visit him while he was in the hospital. “It has a lyric in there that says ‘if I died right now, holding you’s how I’d want to go out, heaven might not be at the end of this dirt road, but it’s pretty close,’” Pell reveals.
“It’s just about how the things that matter in life when things are bad, it’s about the relationships and the people around you and the people that you love. So it was a really personal story for me to tell.”
His time in the military, coupled with his talent as a musician, has inspired him to get involved with CreatiVets, an organization that brings combat-wounded veterans to Nashville to work with top songwriters and tell their story that’s then turned into a professionally-recorded song, a gift they “have for life,” Pell says. “That’s a charity that I’m very passionate about helping with just because it’s such a personal connection to my life, my background,” he continues.
Speaking candidly about his time on “The Bachelorette,” Pell offers insight into how why he decided to take advantage of the opportunity when he got a phone call to meet with producers “out of the blue.” “I was at a point in my life when the opportunity was presented to me and I was saying ‘why not’ to a lot of opportunities that were coming up,” the country singer says, describing the experience like “nothing you’ve ever done” before. “It’s completely foreign to any of the normal social, cultural norms of dating and relationships…it was a very, very outer body kind of experience, but it was fun at the same time.”
While he confirms many fans’ theories wondering if it’s fake, he also reveals that although it’s a bit contrived at the beginning, the experience begins to get more real as the show develops. “About halfway through the season, there starts to be this transition from just feeling like you’re a circus pony on camera to actually building a real relationship and kind of drinking the Kool-Aid of the concept of the show,” he admits. “And now you have an emotional attachment that you can’t really control or hide or fake. It is a crazy social experiment and it is very real toward the last few episodes.”
Though he didn’t get the final rose, Pell says he still keeps in touch with some of his cast members, including Wells Adams and fellow Nashville-based songwriter James Taylor. “It’s kind of a big family, once you’ve been through that unique experience, then you share that,” Pell says of the bond with his co-stars.
Fans can hear “Pretty Close” and several other songs on the rising country star’s upcoming album, which he says is a combination of “heartache and heartbreak,” “love songs” and small town life, as well as victories and challenges. “It’s pretty classic as far as the content goes, but it’s got it’s own flavor and it’s own angle in terms of the sound and the production,” Pell says of the project.
“But we feel like it inherently matches who I am as a person and matches my generation and the background and the influences that I have developed who I am as an artist.”
For more information on Pell and his music, visit his official website.