MSUM Alumnus Makes Waves in Country Music

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BY GRANT EVANS grant.evans@go.mnstate.edu

Minnesota native and MSUM alumnus, Aaron Simmons’ debut album “Third St SW” was released on Aug. 28, and reached number five on the iTunes Country Music charts. Simmons is from Stewartville, Minnesota, a small town south of Rochester, Minnesota. The name of the album “Third St SW” is inspired by the place he grew up. Although he spent his formative years there, he graduated from MSUM in 2018 and still lives in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

Simmons’ success was achieved without major label backing or radio play. He signed a promotional deal with Highway 14 and 32 South Label Group and built a following through social media. He now has just over 5,000 followers on Instagram.

“Musicians say all the time, they are nothing without their fans,” Simmons said. “I’ve never really thought about the people who like my Facebook pages and want to see my videos, I’ve never really considered fans, but I’ve never felt [that support] anymore than right now.”

As far as his success goes, his single “That’s my Hometown” reached top five on the iTunes Country charts. With the early success of “Third St SW,” Simmons now finds himself among such artists as Chris Stapleton, Kane Brown and Morgan Wallen.

“It has been a true blessing from people I know, people who have followed me for years and people who have come to shows in the last month,” Simmons said. “… it has been mind-boggling. The amount of support I’ve gotten, I’m so grateful.” 

Simmons has considered songwriting, and even moving to Nashville, however performing has been his top priority.

“I love connecting to the fans that way, but I love songwriting and the nine songs on this album are a collection of the nine best things I have ever written,” Simmons said. “Someday I would like to be in the machine of Nashville songwriting, but right now I am pursuing the singer-songwriter artist model, but I know a ton of extremely talented songwriters who are making a living in the music industry.”

Simmons’ goal is to write, record and perform music without needing a day job to support himself and his music. One of his major successes was opening for Scotty McCreery and Parmalee in front of thousands at the North Dakota State Fair.

Simmons attributes his early success without major label or radio support to his tenaciousness as a musician and his ambition as an artist which he refers to as, “realistic goals and big time goals”.

 “There’s no such thing as overnight success,” Simmons said. “Anyone who’s ever made it has their own story. Five years from now, realistically, music would be the only thing I could focus on.”

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