For music lovers from multiple generations and interests, the name Overstreet has meaning. At 64, Paul Overstreet is a legendary country songwriter and performer.
Millennial TV-viewers know gorgeous, award-winning actor and singer Chord Overstreet, 28, as “Glee’s” Sam Evans who could belt out a rock ballad as effortlessly as he could croon a love song.
Once the opening act for a rapper, Nash Overstreet, 30, went on to become lead guitarist and backing vocalist for double platinum pop band Hot Chelle Rae, winning an American Music Award in 2011. A songwriter as well as a musician and producer, he has penned songs for Britney Spears, Meghan Trainor and Rachel Platten.
“If my music can speak to people, and it gives them something to identify with… that means everything to me,” Nash said in a recent Billboard interview to promote “U Don’t Get 2 Do That,” his solo debut EP. “Even something as simple as someone falling in love with a beat I’ve made or the sound of my voice… that’s why I do what I do.”
He could easily have been speaking for his father or brother. Last fall Chord dropped his single, “Homeland,” in homage to his hometown of Nashville where he, Nash and sisters Summer, Harmony, Skye and Charity grew up and where his parents still live nearby. Chord said in an interview with Huffington Post that “Homeland” took him 15 minutes to write.
“It just kind of fell out of the sky and into my lap,” he recalled, adding, “My stuff’s not country, but it’s storytelling, which I think is the root of country music…I think people want to hear stories.”
As an actor Chord was nominated for numerous awards for “Glee” including a cast Grammy and individual honors by the Screen Actors Guild, Hollywood Teen TV Awards and Teen Choice, which he won for Male Scene Stealer in 2013. He has worked as a model for many high-profile brands, but at heart he’s a musician. He started playing multiple instruments at a young age, including mandolin, drums, flute, piano and guitar.
“I want to be part of great music,” Chord said, and he certainly is.
Though both young men have nurtured their own songwriting voices and musical delivery style, in interviews each have expressed appreciation for their parents and admiration of their father’s accomplishments.
After moving to Nashville in 1973, Paul “lived” in his ’68 Ford Fairlane, doing manual labor jobs while trying to penetrate the music industry. In 1982 his “Same Ole Me” had been taken to number five by George Jones, and Overstreet had his own first charting single with “Beautiful Baby.” But he was fighting demons.
“Alcohol and drugs crippled me and really kept me from progressing,” he admitted during an interview when he finally began achieving consistent success as a songwriter and soloist.
Paul met cosmetologist and makeup artist, Julie Miller, a Christian, whose influence moved Paul toward the kind of family life he had known growing up as the son of a minister in his hometown of Newton, Mississippi. He gave up his vices, and after marrying Julie in 1985, became one of Country Music’s most successful songwriters.
Paul’s lyrics are known for their affirmation of married love and the value of family.
The Forrester Sisters soon took his co-written “I Fell in Love Again Last Night” to number one. Later in 1985, Randy Travis had hits with two Overstreet songs, “On the Other Hand” (co-written with Don Schlitz) and Travis’ first number one hit, “Diggin’ Up Bones.” The same year Tanya Tucker, Marie Osmond and Paul Davis had success with his compositions.
In 1986 he teamed up with other artists to form SKO and had a number one hit with “Baby’s Got a New Baby.” One of his biggest songwriting hits came in 1987 when Travis recorded the Grammy-winning “Forever and Ever, Amen” for which Paul won both CMA and ACM Song of the Year awards. Songwriting success continued over the decades including a hit by both Keith Whitley and Alison Krauss, “When You Say Nothing At All,” The Judds’ Grammy-winning “Love Can Build a Bridge,” “My Arms Stay Open All Night” released by Tanya Tucker, and Kenny Chesney’s classic “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.”
Not only has he written 27 top ten songs, his hits have been recorded by enduring artists like Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Glen Campbell, Pam Tillis, Mel Tillis, Travis Tritt, Michael Martin Murphey and many others.
BMI honored Overstreet as Songwriter of the Year for five consecutive years from 1987-1991, a record breaker. He also won CMA and ACM Song of the Year in 1987 and 1988. In 2003, Paul was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Paul’s songwriting repertoire has amassed more than 52 million U.S. broadcast performances, which if played back-to-back would total nearly three centuries of continuous play.
The five singles released from Overstreet’s first solo project, “Sowin’ Love,” became top ten hits, including the title cut, “Sowin’ Love,” “All The Fun” and his first number one solo hit, “Seein’ My Father in Me.” “Heroes,” his second solo album, included the number one hit “Daddy’s Come Around” and songs like “If I Could Bottle This Up,” “Heroes” and “Billy Can’t Read” that was selected as the theme song for CMA/CMT Project Literacy. Paul’s first number one song on the Christian charts was “Love is Strong,” which earned him one of his three Dove Awards.
Overstreet has been awarded the TNN Christian Country Artist Viewer’s Choice Award and received the Christian Country Music Association Award for Mainstream Artist-of the Year as well. He’s also been recognized with an historical marker on the Mississippi Country Music Trail.
“It’s amazing to realize that the reality is greater than the dreams that started the whole adventure,” says Paul, who like his sons, continue to write, sing, play and follow their dreams.
– story by Claudia Johnson, Country Reunion Music © 2022
The role of the family is an integral theme of Country Music. Some of County’s greatest songs have captured memories from family life. Family acts, including sibling duos, have long been a staple on the Country stage. Some families have produced numerous talented members, both performers and songwriters, who separately made their impact on the genre. In other families, each generation has expanded the legacy of the one before it. This story is part of a series published in our magazines that celebrates Country Music’s family connections.