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MASON RAMSEY

Skyrocketing to fame with an oversized voice, a huge love of classic Country and enormous personality to match, 11-year-old Mason Ramsey is the biggest little star in Country music today.

An internet sensation who's captured the hearts of million of fans, Ramsey was discovered in 2018 when a foot-tapping video of the youngster yodeling in a Walmart located in Harrisburg, Illinois, went viral. Since then he's charmed on national television and dazzled the trendiest music festivals, become the youngest Country artist to sign with a major record label in a generation, stood tall on the Grand Ole Opry stage and released an acclaimed debut single, "Famous" – but his journey is only just getting started.

Living the vast majority of his 11 years in the tiny, tight-knit community Golconda, Illinois, Ramsey was raised by his grandparents from the age of three weeks old. Describing their home as a time capsule of sorts (with no internet connection but an extensive stack of classic records), Ramsey's grandfather would occasionally host huge karaoke barbecues which the whole town would attend, and by the age of three Ramsey was right in the middle of it.

"Literally before he was doing sentences and phrases, he was picking up on singing," recalls Daysha Broadway, his older cousin. "Mason is a very old soul when it comes to music – and his temperament and personality."

Influenced strongly by icons like Hank Williams Sr., Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and Randy Travis, but also by new-school Country and Pop stars including Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, and Ed Sheeran, Ramsey made his first public appearance at the Kentucky Opry just two weeks after he turned four. Wowing the crowd with a dynamic vocal presence that's impossible to ignore, he went on to sing with Country star Josh Turner that same year, opened a show for Gene Watson at age five, and took the stage with the legendary Kenny Rogers at seven.

But Ramsey's big heart often shines brighter than the spotlight pointing his way. He loves entertaining the residents of local nursing homes, and since the nearest city is about an hour away from his home, his family would make a day of those trips. They'd stop by Walmart after his performance, and usually the gifted vocalist – who has never taken a lesson – would still be in a singing mood.

That's what happened the day his viral video was filmed. Still dressed in his crisp white shirt, red bow tie and boots, Ramsey was singing aloud when a woman recognized his voice from two aisles over. She stopped and asked to film while he continued singing Williams Sr.'s iconic "Lovesick Blues," and the rest, as they say, is history. Barely 30 days later, Ramsey was a bona fide pop-culture phenomenon, his Walmart video gathering views in the tens of millions.

Daytime TV star Ellen DeGeneres was one of the first to fall for the pint-sized crooner. Smiling, gregarious and sharp as a tack, Ramsey appeared on her show and sparkled under the big-city lights, unexpectedly setting his career in motion.

DeGeneres presented the singer with an offer to debut at the world-renowned Grand Ole Opry – Ramsey's all-time dream. Walmart also chipped in a college scholarship and a globally-streamed concert. Within weeks he was touted as a high point of Southern California's Coachella festival (where he shared the stage with DJ Whethan), and he backed that up the following weekend by being superstar duo Florida Georgia Line's special guest at the Stagecoach festival.

"If someone was ever born to do this, it was Mason," shares Broadway. "Whether it's a nursing home show or a giant festival, he says, 'It's just a whole different world that makes me feel really good.'"

As his story continues to unfold, those good feelings are likely to spread. Now signed to Atlantic Records and Big Loud Records as the youngest major label Country artist since Billy Gillman, Ramsey's debut single, "Famous," is out now.

A heartwarming, aspirational anthem which speaks to his quick rise to stardom – but also finds him promising to forever stay a big-hearted country boy – the track was written by hitmaking tunesmiths Tyler Hubbard (of Florida Georgia Line), Corey Crowder, Sarah Buxton and Canaan Smith, and was produced by studio aces Joey Moi (Florida Georgia Line, Jake Owen) and Crowder (Chris Young).

Mixing Ramsey's crystal-clear, all-natural vocals with the classic sonics he loves so much – plus a few modern touches – "Famous" bridges the gap between fans of traditional and contemporary Country … and it's just a hint of what's to come for the first breakout star of 2018.