Rapid City singer-songwriter Barrett Hemmings sings from the heart, and his newest single, 1984, is a prime example of that. Preparing to release his single this month to tease his upcoming full-length album, Hemmings looks forward to debuting it at his performances at the Central States Fair August 18 and 25.

People have compared my music to… Jack Johnson and Ed Sheeran.

I write about perosnal topics because… it is how I process certain life events, the good and the bad. I put my feelings from life situations into songs, in hopes that others can relate, and it will encourage them to find the words to express how they are feeling. I have had to grow up early in life and have seen more in my 30+ years than most have seen in a lifetime. My music is a result of those experiences, and I have poured both my heart and tears into creating these songs.

One of the most personal songs I wrote was… called Fight for You. Early on in my marriage, I recognized how selfish I was being as a husband, and how the dumb things I said or did had such a negative impact on my wife. After experiencing my family go through a series of divorces, I knew that I needed to make a change and work on those things in order to keep my marriage healthy and strong. My favorite lyric in it is, “I will always be by your side, because I know you will never leave mine.” I feel that it is really important for us to break the pattern of divorce within my family, because I know how much pain it can cause those it affects.

This new single is about… the life events that happened within my first year of life (1984), that I vaguely remember – things like my first breath and my first steps. My hope in this song is that it takes people back in time to a place that was simple and carefree for me, when my parents paid for everything, and the only thing I had to worry about was when my favorite cartoon came on TV. The song progresses quickly through my life, and ends with how I processed my parents’ divorce later in life. I was 23 when they decided to end their marriage, and it was one of the most difficult things I have gone through. The song ends with the idea that now my childhood feels like a dream, not the reality it was.

Music to me is… one of the many art forms that can transcend any language barrier. Even without words, music can take people on a journey that navigates a wide spectrum of feeling and emotion.

The inspiration for my work is… my wife, Allison. Most of the songs I’ve written are about how she makes me feel when I’m around her, and how no matter what comes our way, I will love her until my final breath.

“Writing music is a way for me to let go of hurt or painful experiences and not be held captive by my thoughts. It’s also to express how I feel about the good times through the joy I have in life.”

My most rewarding experience as a musician was when… I learned how to play the guitar. I remember the first time that I sang and played the guitar in front of people. It was horrible… But I kept practicing and getting better, and now I couldn’t imagine playing music without it.

The biggest obstacle I’ve faced so far in my career was… recording/finishing my first album. I’ve written a lot of songs over the years, but didn’t really find my niche in writing until about five years ago. My biggest challenge in this has been that I felt that I needed to write what people wanted to hear instead of just being myself and writing what comes from my heart.

The best part about playing live is… watching people connect with the words that I’m singing. Whether it is something that they have personally gone through or can relate to, I can always tell when I’ve “struck a chord” with someone by how they look at me and connect for that moment.

One of my favorite places to play live is… Tally’s Silver Spoon. Their staff there is always really accommodating, and it’s been fun getting to know some of them each time I play there. The food is out of this world, and the overall experience there for playing live music and listening to live music is always enjoyable.

The best experience/moment I’ve had as a musician is… making the Texas All-State Men’s Choir as a Tenor 1 my senior year of high school. I worked really hard my last few years of high school to accomplish this, and it was one of the most rewarding music experiences I have had.

Another local musician I love is… Joel Guptill. I get to work with Joel on a daily basis, and get to see how passionate he is about music. He has an incredible gift for songwriting and playing guitar.

I’ve dabbled in other art forms, such as… drawing and woodworking. I am working on illustrating a kid’s book series about our dogs, Jones and Mae, and have built a few things around our house out of reclaimed wood.

i love grabbing a bite at… Independent Ale House. Their pizzas are by far my favorite here in Rapid.

If I’m not creating music, I’m… binge watching shows on Netflix.

One of my favorite places in South Dakota is… Mount Rushmore. I know it sounds super touristy, but I am so captivated by those old dudes’ heads and what it took to craft and sculpt them out of the rock. I remember visiting [the Black Hills] as a kid on a family RV trip and having the same feeling I have when I go look at it today.

One thing you can expect to see from me in the future is… a full-length album that will take you through my life from when I was a kid, up until now. My goal is to finish it by the end of this year and have it available by early 2018.

Hemmings’ single, 1984, is available on iTunes and Spotify starting August 4. His August 18 and 25 performances at the Central States Fair begin at 5 p.m. For more information, visit barretthemmings.com.

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