There’s an integrity to Ben Rue: it’s a quality that’s central to his character and his career. And perhaps it’s his natural sincerity, together with a passion for making lyrically meaningful music, that’s made Rue’s Arista Nashville debut single, “I Can’t Wait (Be My Wife),” such a compelling introduction.
Produced by Kyle Lehning (best known for his longtime work with Randy Travis) and released in the spring of 2014, the song immediately began turning heads in the industry, with early excitement at radio and attention from music trades like Billboard and All Access, which called the song “positively irresistible,” predicting it as “the wedding song for summer 2014.”
Rue came to Nashville by way of small-town Silverton, OR, where he grew up the youngest of three brothers on his family’s 2000-acre grass seed farm. Driving a combine since he was 11, Rue wasn’t one to shy from the hard work of the farm, but found himself writing songs and creating his own music as he worked.
“My dad would catch me: I remember one time I was singin’ on a railroad tie. I was fillin’ up one of our tractors with diesel, while looking out in the field, pretending I was singing on stage in Madison Square Garden . My dad walked up behind me, while I was mid-chorus in my song, and just started laughing, like, ‘What are you doing? Why are you even here on the farm?'”
But Rue’s other love was baseball, a passion that followed him into college, attending Concordia University on a baseball scholarship and playing a season for an independent team before realizing that the major leagues weren’t in his future. With music reclaiming center stage in his life, Rue took up guitar in his sophomore year, in part because his brother played, “and I like to think I can do anything he can,” Rue laughs, “and as it turns out, I loved it.”
Having a new outlet for creating music was the perfect catalyst for Rue, who admits, “I’m not very good with talking about my emotions and feelings. But being able to start writing songs and playing – any musician can relate that you play out your emotions, your passions, and your loves, and you just play that into your music.”
While continuing to work on the family farm after graduation, Rue formed his own band, began performing regionally and successfully auditioned for TV’s The X-Factor, which – together with the support of a local country DJ at Portland’s KUPL – ultimately spurred Rue to make the decision to move to Nashville in 2012.
“I always knew when I was younger I wanted to either be a baseball star or sing country music; those were my two passions. I wanted to be some sort of performer on a big stage.
“I like being a part of something that people love to come to, and I love that I get to be a part of that time when they can just break away from life for a couple hours.”
Sonically, Rue cites George Strait and Alan Jackson among his big country influences, saying, “I love the feeling of the songs back in the ’90s and the early 2000s. Garth Brooks, a lot of Chris Cagle’s writing, early Tim McGraw – and Diamond Rio; I just loved their harmonies and melodies. Ben says that he listened to all kinds of music growing up, however, including Fall Out Boy, Blink 182, and The Goo Goo Dolls.
“I’m a big storyteller,” Rue says, “I like songs with meaning, not just noise that puts people in a good mood, but something that connects with them on a deeper level – and I hope that the music that I create will do just that.”