For this week’s Swag Spotlight we take you to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where Justin Fabus grew up and still resides. In our recent phone conversation the singer-songwriter talks highly of his hometown, explaining how he hates the stereotype that just because he didn’t grow up in the south, that means he can’t sing country music. “Country music is about the songwriting, it’s about blue-collar people, hard-working people, and Pittsburgh with their steel factories, being a Steel Town, it doesn’t get much more blue-collar than Pittsburgh. It goes hand and hand perfectly,” he tells us.
With a grandfather who indulged in the rat pack, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, and his grandmother always listening to Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash, Fabus was introduced to a wide range of music from an early age. His mother would always play Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen and as he got older, he loved the sound of the Motown Era and of course 90’s country like Diamond Rio and Restless Heart. All of these influences are evident in the music that he now calls his own.
In the 8th grade, Fabus took the stage for the very first time for a talent show. “I sang a Boyz II Men song and to have the feel of the crowd, it was something I had never experienced and I was addicted to it and then it just grew from there,” he recalls. Since his middle school talent show days, Fabus now has had the opportunity to play CMAFest in Nashville three times and open for superstars like Gary Allan, Randy Houser, Craig Campbell and Kip Moore. He is so grateful to those opening slots and to the artists who opened their arms to him and took him under their wing.
He currently still resides in Pittsburgh but travels to Nashville often, bouncing back and forth between both cities. His reasoning on not moving to Music City full time is “I would rather have a huge following in my hometown and the surrounding areas first and have a strong fan base before I dive into Nashville. I would rather be invited into Nashville than just show up and say here I am.”
His new album titled Remedy was released earlier this summer and is a clear summation of all of the influences he has listened to in his lifetime. “I’m not a big fan of the word genre, I think if it’s good music and it makes you move and makes you feel good, then that’s all that matters,” he says of the musical term. “I hate the ‘Oh it’s too country, it’s not country enough’ statement, if it’s good music it’s good music. Music is evolving and changing every day and the whole word ‘genre’ is terrible. Why pigeon hole yourself, just because you like country music doesn’t mean you can’t like hip hop or rap or R&B, so I have been trying to break down those barriers my whole career.”
Fabus co-wrote or solo wrote all 13 tracks on the album, taking the initiative to make his debut album exactly how he wanted it. “You only get one first album in your career and I wanted it to be one of those albums that you listen to it front to back where it takes you on a journey,” he says of Remedy. Working with some great songwriters such as Joe Henry, who was John Denver’s songwriting partner who wrote the song “Skin” for Rascal Flatts as well, as Dave Pahanish who has written songs for Keith Urban and Toby Keith. Being a huge fan of Billy Joel, he also had Carl Fisher, Joel’s trumpet player add his talents to the record. “I’ve been so blessed to do what I do and on top of it have these amazing songwriters and artists collaborate with me, it’s unbelievable.”
Currently out on The Remedy Tour, with over thirty dates spanning the country, Fabus takes what he loves about Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen’s live shows to heart, understanding that spending your hard earned money on a concert is a privilege these artists get to experience with their fans, so he always gives all he’s got when on stage.
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