By Maxim Mower
As he introduced the award, HARDY regaled the Marathon Music Works audience with an amusing anecdote from when he first met Bailey. The Mississippi songsmith recalled, “Bailey is the first person in Nashville...that made me feel old in one sense. He came up in Australia...I think we were in Sydney...and Bailey popped in, and he just sat down and we started talking and he said, “Man, I gotta tell you...you were my favourite singer when I was in high school’, and I was like, ‘Damn, bro, I'm only 32!’”.
HARDY then went on to explain that this moment stuck with him, because it was the first time he appreciated how his music was having a real impact on younger listeners and aspiring artists.
Taking a moment to address Bailey Zimmerman directly, the ‘wait in the truck’ hitmaker underlined, “You are the first person I have met who I can personally say now, knowing that it's a fact, I inspired you when you were still in high school. People like myself, Morgan [Wallen], Ernest...inspired you to move to this town and chase down your dream and you're doing it - and that means so much to me”.
HARDY concluded his speech by offering a few words of advice to the country prodigy, “You are truly on a rocket-ship, keep that head on your shoulders, enjoy every moment because you're having a lot of them right now and I know that can be hard to do. Soak every single one of them in, they go by fast. Realise how special life is - and I know you do, I've talked to you a lot and I know you soak that stuff in. I love you, brother”.
Earlier in the year, HARDY and Bailey Zimmerman performed across Australia and New Zealand together as part of Morgan Wallen's colossal One Night At A Time world tour, with the two artists due to resume their supporting roles throughout the summer.
In an interview following his acceptance speech, Bailey Zimmerman expressed his pride and gratitude at being the first recipient of the Billboard Rookie of the Year award, “It means the world, really, because we've worked really hard over the last two and a half years, learning how to sing, learning how to have breath and rock out and still be able to sing good”.
The trailblazing artist added that the trophy holds an extra sense of value due to the significance of the equivalent honour in one of Bailey's favourite sports, “I grew up liking baseball, and Rookie of the Year is a really big deal...I'm very grateful for the opportunity to be right here”.
Bailey Zimmerman recently released his debut full-length album, Religiously, which earned the Illinois singer-songwriter the biggest country streaming debut in history. The project features Bailey's two No. 1 singles, ‘Fall in Love’ and ‘Rock and A Hard Place’.
For more on Bailey Zimmerman, see below: