'American Idol' Winner Trent Harmon Talks Debut Album & Moving Forward After a Rocky Year

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Fresh f his win on American Idol in 2016, Trent Harmon hit Hot Country Songs with “Falling.” He soon followed that up with “There’s A Girl,” which, like its predecessor, hit No. 27 on that chart. With each passing week, his fans waited for a debut album… and waited… and waited. (He did release a self-titled EP in Dec. 2016.) Behind the scenes, things weren’t going too well. There was a restructuring at his label, and though he remained on the roster, for much 2017, Harmon was in limbo.

Things look different in 2018, as the Mississippi native is set to release his debut album, You Got ‘Em All, next Friday (May 18). He tells Billboard that he’s happy to get the music to his patient fan base. 

“All they know is that they were promised an album, and they want the album. God bless them because they have waited for over two years now. I finally get to deliver it to them. I’ve been signing as many pre-orders as I can. I want it to be as personal for them as possible. They are going to do the rest. They will champion the record. I don’t doubt for a minute that it’s going to do great numbers within my fan base. It feels so good to finally get it them.”

Those fans have also been championing the emotional title cut. Written about a personal breakup, Harmon debuted the song at the Country Radio Seminar in February – and you could have heard a pin drop inside the Omni. It was a moment he will never forget.

“That was such a validating moment for me,” he says, adding that the lyrics – though first person – are universal. “It is personal, but look at a lot great country songs, especially ballads. A lot them are about heartbreak or finding new love. I feel that this song very well could be a career song for me. Anytime you write a song, you better plan on – hopefully – singing it every day for the rest your life. I love the song. It is tough to go to that place that I wrote the song from, but for what I feel like it’s given to people through music, it’s gonna be a great year.”

One the highlights from You Got ‘Em All is “On Paper,” which Harmon said “I wanted to write songs to different people that have inspired me. I’ve had people tell me ‘You don’t really fit with that person.’ I’ve also heard people telling younger people ‘That girl or that boy is no good for you. You guys don’t fit.’ I think it’s terrible to tell two young kids that they don’t fit on paper.”

The summer plans to be an exciting one for the singer, who will be hitting the road to promote the new music. “It’s going to be us, Rascal Flatts, and Dan + Shay. There will be a lot good singing from the stage. I’ll do my show, and I pride myself on being a singer. I know that Dan + Shay are known for great vocals. Of course, Gary LeVox is one the most iconic voices our time; I know it’s going to be a lot fun. Both camps are a lot fun. It’s going to be a great summer. I’m gonna see a lot fans on the road this year.”

Harmon says that the road is really the litmus test where you find out just how good your material is. “That’s where you truly find out if your songs are good enough to take a bunch people; Do they pay attention to particular songs? Do they stop and put their phone down, or record particular songs? You put so much energy into these songs, and I think that’s where you get that energy back.”

All in all, 2018 has been an incredible year for Harmon – with one tragic exception. His cousin and one his biggest musical supporters, Nancy, was killed in a shooting in March. He says that two months later, he still can’t believe it. “We were out on tour when I found out about her. She had just purchased tickets to come see me with Rascal Flatts the night before she was shot. It’s really put a lot things in perspective. That hits close to home. That was somebody that I was really looking forward to putting an album in their hands. She’s been there and has checked in with me every week for the last two years. Now, I won’t be able to give her a record,” he says wistfully.