In just a few short years, Thomas Rhett has gone from a hustling songwriter to a bonafide country music superstar! The musician — who stands out from the pack with his approachable, scruffy-bearded look — reportedly tried college, but according to The Boot, felt the industry was calling. He dropped out and started playing clubs in Nashville to make ends meet.
Rhett wrote songs for other singers, like Jason Aldean’s “I Ain’t Ready to Quit,” as well as tunes for Lee Brice and Florida Georgia Line, per Taste of Country. But he would soon step into the spotlight himself: The singer released his debut album in 2013, with the single “It Goes Like This” proving to be a breakthrough of sorts, reaching No. 2 on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart. But when Rhett embraced a more R&B-tinged sound on his 2015 sophomore album, Tangled Up, his true breakthrough came.
The single, “Die a Happy Man,” proved to be Rhett’s biggest song to date, with 358 million Spotify plays. The intimate, dialed-back love song is simply a smash. It was named Single of the Year at the 2016 CMA Awards, per The Boot. The star famously wrote the Grammy-nominated tune about his wife Lauren Akins, who he married in 2012, per The Tennessean, and with whom he shares three children. They have a fairytale marriage to this day. (Well, mostly.)
So while country music fans are probably somewhat familiar with Rhett, here’s everything you should know about the charming, burgeoning star.
Thomas Rhett is the son of a famous country singer
Maybe Thomas Rhett couldn’t do college life because country music is simply in his blood? Born Thomas Rhett Akins Jr., his father is Rhett Akins, a successful songwriter who had a handful of country hits in the 1990s, per The Boot. You may remember his 1995 tune “That Ain’t My Truck” and maybe even sang the number at karaoke. Yup, that was Rhett’s pops!
According to Country Thang Daily, the pair has always been close, as Rhett used to accompany his dad on tour dates, inspiring him to follow in his father’s footsteps. While Akins was rocking venues, a young Thomas apparently rubbed elbows with a lot of stars, including Blake Shelton, who stepped in as his tutor. “Looking back at it today it’s just so funny to, like, hang out with Blake today because I am opening a show for him, but he was helping me with homework 10 years ago,” Rhett told The Today Show in 2017.
The father-son duo is still going strong. They sang Akins’ “That Ain’t My Truck” together at a concert in 2016 with an enthralled crowd singing along, and in June 2020, as a Father’s Day treat, they released a song together, aptly titled “Things Dads Do.” Rhett sang the sentimental tune on Instagram, explaining, “I wrote this song for my dad, with my dad and for all the dads out there.” Aw!
Thomas Rhett's music taste is wide-ranging, including punk-rock and Will Smith
Thomas Rhett’s musical influences are wide-ranging. Very wide. Apparently, Rhett’s first band was a punk-rock outfit. Formed in sixth grade, they were called “High Heeled Flip Flops”, according to The Today Show, and were inspired by The Ramones. Rhett has since acknowledged that this perhaps wasn’t the peak of his music career. “We were so bad. We all dyed our hair black, jet black, and in our shows, we all talked in English accents,” he said in the 2017 interview. “We wanted to be the Ramones so bad.”
So yes, Rhett’s influences aren’t all country, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. He cited the Beatles and The Rolling Stones as early favorites while speaking with The Today Show and also said he’s inspired by hip-hop, albeit maybe not the most critically acclaimed. “I grew up with, maybe not the best hip-hop in the world, but a lot of hip-hop,” he said. “Will Smith was like my jam when I was like 9 or 10 years old. ‘Gettin’ Jiggy With It’… first rap I ever learned.” Hey, it was the ’90s after all!
That being said, Rhett’s wide-ranging palate has also benefitted him, like on his 2015 genre-bending album, and he doesn’t want to be boxed in as a country singer. “I’m not just trying to be good at one thing and then call it a day,” he once told Billboard Magazine. “I want to be like Bruno Mars.”
Thomas Rhett married his childhood sweetheart
As far as his personal life goes, Thomas Rhett’s marriage to wife Lauren Gregory Akins is like a rom-com come to life! According to The Knot, Rhett met his future wife way back in first grade. Though they dated briefly in high school, it wasn’t until after graduating that Rhett realized his true feelings, turning to Lauren’s father first and spilling the beans. “Her dad called me and said, ‘If you don’t come over here tonight and tell Lauren how you feel about her, then I’m going to tell her how you feel about her,'” Rhett told CBS This Morning in 2016.
Luckily, he mustered up the courage, and according to The Tennessean, the couple was soon engaged and wed in October 2012. Per Good Housekeeping, Rhett and Lauren share three children: Ada James, Lennon Love, and Willa Gray, whom they adopted from Africa in 2017. Lauren also uses her nursing degree to go on mission trips to Africa, and the pair is involved in the 147 Million Orphans children’s charity. Pretty sweet, huh? Plus, that’s Lauren playing the female counterpart in her husband’s “Die A Happy Man” music video. “It’s just not really me to be all over some girl in a music video,” Rhett told The Boot.
While the couple may seem perfect on paper and they’ve done some amazing charity work, no marriage is perfect. These two have seen a few rough patches.
Thomas Rhett and his wife went to marriage counseling
Thomas Rhett and wife Lauren Akins went to marriage counseling. Apparently, in 2017, while then-pregnant Lauren was also finalizing the adoption of daughter Willa Gray, her husband was staying committed to his fans, a.k.a. the “Hometeam.” Maybe a little too committed; he was off touring.
“There were certain parts in our marriage, for sure, that I was a bit jerky, if you will, especially through the adoption — not that any of this was really my fault,” Rhett revealed on The Bobby Bones Show in September 2020, specifically bringing up a phone call while he was performing in Nashville. “Lauren called me because it was 9 o’clock in the morning in Uganda and… she hears all of her friends in the background. Meanwhile, Lauren is seven months pregnant, throwing up in a bathroom in Uganda… That was when Lauren was like, ‘We are living two completely separate lives right now.'”
Apparently, that call was a “humbling experience.” “That part was really hard for us, for sure,” Rhett added. While the couple has since sought counseling, Lauren also published her memoir Live In Love, which chronicles their relationship and its hardships. “We still are staying in close contact with our counselor, Beth,” she told People in August 2020. “We struggle just like every other married couple, we struggle just like every other parent, we struggle just like every other human.”
Despite those ups and downs, we’re definitely keeping an eye on Rhett’s rise!
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