RIVERVIEW — Making it big in Nashville is not easy.
Becoming a top country music star at the tender age of 23 is even more difficult.
But Texas-born Chase Bryant has achieved just that.
As he prepares for his performance at Saturday's South Shore Music Festival, Bryant easily can reflect on how his family heritage has guided his path to the stage.
His grandfather played piano for Roy Orbison and Waylon Jennings. His uncles formed the successful country music group Ricochet.
Bryant grew up surrounded by the music of Conway Twitty, Merle Haggard, Vince Gill, Keith Urban and Jedd Hughes, who influenced and inspired Bryant to become a country music performer.
"Those records told me that I could be a mainstream country artist and also write guitar riffs that would stick in somebody's head," Bryant said.
He taught himself to play the guitar when he was 3 years old as if he was born to it, and his talent and success have grown at an incredible pace.
His career sky-rocketed with his summer 2014 release of Take It On Back. Bryant wrote the debut song from his heart.
"It reflects me growing up in high school," Bryant said. "It really defines who I am."
The song quickly reached 1 a combined 3 million views on YouTube and Vevo and spent 14 weeks on the CMT Hot 20 Countdown. Bryant's upbeat ode to lost young love caught the attention of country music legend Tim McGraw, who became such a fan that he invited Bryant to open for his Shotgun Rider Tour this summer.
"We're overjoyed to be bringing such a established artist to the South Shore region," said Mike Self, festival founder and event coordinator. "Considering we're not a big market like Tampa or Bradenton, this is a really big deal for our small community as we're trying to establish the South Shore Music Festival to be a major event in our area."
According to the Billboard Country Airplay Chart, Bryant is one of only three male solo artists to earn a Top 10 hit in 2015 with a debut single. Achieving success at 23 has not diminished Bryant's appreciation for the country music industry. His self-titled EP, which can be purchased on iTunes, blends the style of old-school country themes with a rock twist, ditching the acoustic guitar for a hot new country electric sound.
"We're all fans," he said. "The music is our connection. I'm just the guy with the guitar. The music is everything."
Bryant's follow-up single, Little Bit of You, enjoys more rave reviews and extends the success of his premiere.
"This may be my favorite song, but Take It On Back is still really special since it was my first," Bryant said.
What's next for this young superstar?
"I'm excited about the future," he said. "It's me out there playing a lot, getting out new music. We're having a blast being on the road, and we're sure excited about coming to Florida."
The South Shore Music Festival opens at noon at the International Independent Showmen's Club at 6915 Riverview Drive. The concert benefits veteran-focused charities Honor Flight of West Central Florida, Haley House and My Warrior's Place. It also supports the Feeding America Tampa Bay project by asking attendees to bring non-perishable food items to donate to area families.