Illinois native Drew Baldridge to perform at Annual Meeting


Drew Baldridge describes himself as the “black sheep” of his family who moved to Nashville from a southern Illinois farm to write songs about farming and small towns.

His move paid off. His song, “She’s Somebody’s Daughter,” continues to climb, landing at No. 9 on the country music charts in June, and Baldridge is hoping for his first No. 1.

But he wasn’t an overnight success. In fact, Baldridge’s rollercoaster music career hit some pretty low lows when his record label closed and then COVID hit, shuttering music venues.

But he wasn’t about to abandon his dream.

“Growing up on a farm just really shapes you, just the hard work aspect of life and the not giving up,” Baldridge told FarmWeek and RFD Radio. “Now I translate that to music ... sometimes you just don’t know what you’re going to get out of it. (With farming), sometimes it doesn’t rain, sometimes the yield is not good. That’s what kind of always has driven me in country music — knowing all the hard work that we had to put in on our farm.”

His time on the Marion County family farm and growing up in small town America are at the heart of many of Baldridge’s songs, which he hopes will connect with Illinois Farm Bureau members when he performs during Annual Meeting Dec. 7 in Chicago.

“It really excites me because those are my people; that’s where I come from,” Baldridge said. “They can really expect a high energy show.”

His hit song, “She’s Somebody’s Daughter,” was originally released five years ago. Baldridge wrote the song after meeting his wife’s father, mostly as a message to himself to never forget that if he broke her heart, he’d also be breaking her parents’ hearts. Years later, inspired by his own wedding, he posted a video with the song on TikTok, which went viral.

“Ever since I was 16, I’ve just been dreaming of writing music that meant something — music that people can make memories to,” said Baldridge, who’s astonished at the number of TikToks where his song is played during wedding dances. “All the dads that are coming up and telling me how much the song means to them; it’s been really special for me as a songwriter and creator to watch it happen.”

His love of music started as a boy, when he followed in his father’s footsteps, singing in the church choir. He signed up for every talent show in his community of Patoka and still remembers his first solo singing performance in front of an audience in first grade. He took up the guitar at the age of 16 and brought his act to local taverns.

He turned down a baseball scholarship to pursue a music career, and moved to the “Country Music Capital of the World” at the age of 19. About five years later, he landed a record deal, but the label later closed, leaving Baldridge at square one again.

Then COVID hit and venues weren’t booking acts.

“I didn’t know what to do. I was like, ‘Man, I’ve got to provide for my family. How do I play music?’” he said.

He started advertising backyard shows on social media, hoping he could earn a little money with a handful of bookings. Instead, thousands of requests came in for what he later dubbed the Baldridge and Bonfires Tour.

“So I went around the country for two years, in ‘21 and ‘22, and I played in over 300 people’s backyards, just me and a guitar. And it was one of the coolest tours I ever did,” he said. “I got to meet people. I got to be on their farm, I got to be in their house and city, wherever. And we just brought music to people.”

The 32-year-old also started his own record label last year, creating his own team to handle everything from bookings to securing radio time.

He’s performed almost 30 times at the Grand Old Opry, which he dubs “the pedestal of all venues,” but his biggest accomplishment is his family, including wife, Katherine, and 18-month-old son, Lyric.

This is the third year IFB’s Annual Meeting has offered a concert for attendees. The meeting, which will be Dec. 7-10, will be at the Palmer House in Chicago one last time before moving to the Hyatt Regency on East Wacker Drive in 2025.

Attendance at last year’s Annual Meeting exceeded 1,600 — the highest since the pandemic. The Hyatt will provide an opportunity for the event to grow, said Donna Gallivan, IFB’s conference and program manager.

The band will follow IFB President Brian Duncan’s speech and a networking reception.

This year’s meeting theme is Planting a Vision, and attendees can expect the return of micro talks, charitable auctions, ice cream fundraiser, Young Leader Discussion Meets and awards programs.

The IAA Foundation traditional auctions will be back, and the call for donations has already begun. Last year, members helped the IAA Foundation raise a record-breaking $65,000.

“We heard loud and clear that folks loved getting to see auction items displayed in the exhibit hall. About half of our bidding participation comes from members back home, so we want to continue to have the auction online, but will also take items up to Chicago again for viewing in person,” said IAA Foundation Director Susan Moore.

Registration continues to be $30 per IFB member, with no additional cost for the concert. Registration details will be released at a later date.


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