Music Spotlight: Matt Oakley

NASHVILLE, Tennessee- Matt Oakley grew up around all kinds of music. His dad was a DJ in the military in Germany.

He recalled, “We always had those little boomboxes going and those old CD players that were like small oval-shaped. We have our home videos. And almost everyone, whether it was on a desk or a kitchen table, or me and my sisters dancing around, we were always around music. And in car rides, when we would go on road trips, we would play music trivia or play the song. The first person to get what the song is and who it’s by gets a point.”

Both Oakley’s sisters can sing, and the family loves music, but no one thought about pursuing music as a career. And although Oakley is not a professionally trained musician, he knew enough of the major chords to play along at a campfire and write his own music.

While attending college in South Carolina, Oakley began to take music seriously. His style is somewhere between modern country, rock, and pop country. But during COVID, he started posting videos of his songs/covers on TikTok.

After he sang a James Author song, he got 100 comments, and people asked him, “’ Can you do this song? Can you do that song? Can you do this?’ And people were reaching out to me like, ‘Oh, can I help you make an original song?’ All this stuff. And it kind of just blossomed from there.”

It was toward the end of college, when the world was coming out of quarantine that Oakley began writing and recording song after song. He had a little 4’ X 10’ closet that became his vocal booth.

He stated, “I would go in there almost every night and just try and figure out my voice and trying to figure out my sound and try and write a song that was different from the last one. And so in the daytime, I was a business student. And then the second I could get home after I’d work out, I’d come home, and I’d just mess around with music for hours and it filled up my days quickly.”

He ended up with more than 100 songs on his computer and then began to release some of them. Finally, the right people heard his music, and he got in the right rooms and made some meaningful connections that got him to Nashville. And while Oakley can perform a variety of musical styles because he is a natural-born storyteller, country music was a good fit for the singer/songwriter.

Oakley’s songwriting was inspired by artists such as Riley Green, Cody Johnson, and Morgan Wallen. Once in Nashville, he finally ended up with Warner-Chapell’s David Ray and Phil Mosely, where they initially wrote a couple of songs that turned into a whole project during the past few months.


The first song Oakley released in 2022 was a sad drinking song called “Dive Bar.” He had the idea for the song to do a little counting thing where you are sitting at the bar trying to drink away the thought of this girl. Once the idea formed in his head, he was eager to “lay down the track.” While the song is upbeat, the message is about heartbreak and is completely relatable to many.

Oakley’s approach to songwriting is to make each song unique, stating, “I don’t want each one to sound the same. There are a ton of instruments and drum sounds to use, so I use ‘em.” He credits his passion for country music to his military upbringing and his mother’s slow and simple way of living, a product of Mobile, Alabama.

In 2023, Oakley released “Richest Man I Know,” a tune that pays tribute to his grandfather. Besides his grandfather, the inspiration behind the song was Green’s “I Wished Grandpa’s Never Died.”  As a songwriter, he hopes to blend his style of telling stories in a modern way without copying anyone. The culmination of that is the touching song, “Richest Man I Know.”

Also, in 2023, Oakley released “The Whiskey Does,” a song in which Morgan Wallen is influenced, but he makes the song completely his own. In the song, he admits to missing a girl, especially when he is drinking whiskey.

Last summer, Oakley played the Blue Moon Stage at the Carolina Country Music Festival. They recorded his self-penned song, “Away With Words,” a confession about a girl he just can’t shake no matter how hard he tries.

Now living in Nashville, Oakley recently released the pertinent “Can’t Take the Dogs.” Not only was it an issue when his parents divorced years ago, but the breakup anthem highlights a big issue in many splits—who gets the dogs? Both are highly attached to their pet(s) even though their relationship is over.

Undoubtedly, many can relate to the lyrics: Take the pictures/ Take the frames/ Hell take the walls/ But you can’t take the dogs.

“[A dog] is not like some sweatshirt you can replace. It’s an animal that is a living being. I went to the studio one night and came up with this little idea on guitar, and played it for a few people, and they’re like, ‘Dude, you’ve got to cut that.’”

Oakley has spent the last ten months writing and recording music. He will play a few festivals over the summer. He plans to release new music every six weeks. The best way to keep up with the prolific singer/songwriter is to follow him on social media.

You can follow Oakley on FacebookInstagramTikTokYouTube, and all streaming platforms.

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Bethany Bowman is a freelance entertainment writer. You can follow her blogInstagram, and X.





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