Curtis Grimes life reads like your classic country narrative: A promising baseball prospect ditches his chance at a shot in the big leagues for a girl, only to come away heartbroken a short while later.
But instead of picking up the bottle, he picked up a guitar, and what sounds like the character in so many country songs is instead the one writing them.
It was something I could do alone, Grimes said. I had a lot of time to myself in my college dorm, and I needed something to fill the time and take my mind off things. Music was this sort of therapy to deal with all the crap that comes along with something like that.
Other than loving his fair share of George Strait and Alan Jackson albums, the Texas native had no background in music not even touching an instrument until he was 19.
But he found it came naturally, and that his voice was something special. It took him from playing dive bars and frat parties to winning a shot opening for Kenny Chesney and landing on season one of The Voice, where a cover of Blake Sheltons Hillbilly Bone caught the ear of not Shelton, but Cee Lo Green.
Im always afraid of singing in front of people. I loved singing along with the radio or by myself in the room, but I couldnt bring it out otherwise, Grimes said. [The Voice] kind of forced me into it.
While he didnt win, he left with connections and a deeper understanding of the industry, which he parlayed into spots supporting Pat Green, Eli Young Band and Toby Keith. The exposure was good, but Grimes took it as an opportunity to learn stage presence from countrys biggest sluggers.
Thats the hardest part for me, Grimes said. Its nice to watch them take control of the crowd. Its impressive to watch them get every single person in the crowd to be part of the experience. Its little things that I can only learn from studying them for a night.
Hes toured almost relentlessly the past two years, working his way up the ranks of the Texas country scene with his mix of Red Dirt and mainstream country leanings.
Grimes has independently released two studio albums, 2009s Lonely River and 2011s Doin My Time, and last years concert record, Live from the Parish. While another LP isnt waiting in the wings, new music is on the way in the form of singles until he saves up enough quality material for a full release.
Practicing every day, he realizes life as a country singer has turned out not all that different from what his life as a ball player would have been; hes just holding a different piece of wood.
It gets easier every day. Ive learned so much, and Ive been able to take in a lot, Grimes said. Theres a lot of struggles, late nights, early mornings and being away from home involved, but you learn to play the game a little better.