'American Idol' Winner Chayce Beckham Really Goes Fishing With Luke Bryan and Now They're Going on Tour Together

As this season of American Idol draws to a close with a new winner soon to be revealed, Chayce Beckham, the winner of the 2021 competition, is releasing new music and heading out on tour with none other than judge Luke Bryan.

Two weeks ago, Chayce returned to the Idol stage for a performance of his new single, “Till the Day I Die,” and despite all the experience he has acquired over the past two years, he says he was still nervous.

“It’s just something that I think will never not get in my head,” he told Parade in this exclusive interview. “Once it’s over with, you’re like, ‘Man, I wish I wasn’t so nervous the whole time, freaking out.’ But I think that’s just in my nature, especially with the TV cameras and stuff like that.”

And that’s the funny part. He’s comfortable with the live audience, but it’s the lenses on the TV cameras that get to him—and singing in front of Luke, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie.

“The live audiences make it a little bit easier, so it’s always fun when you’re actually going to get up there,” he says. “But it’s the whole you get in your head about being on TV. Live TV at least, it always I think will scare me.”

While he was at Idol, host Ryan Seacrest and Luke surprised him with a gold record for his breakout hit, “23,” which he performed while on the show, and which is currently climbing the country radio charts after being released on streaming sites following his Idol win.

<p>ABC&sol;Eric McCandless</p>

ABC/Eric McCandless

“It feels good to have that one on the radio, and to get the gold plaque for that song. It’s a really awesome feeling,” Chayce says. “That was exciting for me, especially as it’s a song that I wrote by myself on a couch when I didn’t have too much to my name.”

Related: American Idol Winner Chayce Beckham on His Growing Country Music Career: 'I’m Just a Little Fish in a Big Pond Working My Way Up'

“23” is, of course, a personal song about a man’s hardships, written during a particularly dark time in Chayce’s own life before he auditioned for Idol, and his new single “Till the Day I Die,” is personal as well. Chayce isn’t the solo writer on that, Andy Albert, Jordan Minton, and Mark Trussell also contributed, but the idea was Chayce’s and it pays homage to a lot of songs that he really loves and songs that he thinks are crucial in country music like “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys” and “Pancho and Lefty.”

“The Outlaw songs, those were huge inspirations to me,” he says. “So, when we wrote it, it was about hanging on to that little bit of rebel inside of you and loving something until you can’t love it anymore even if it might not be something that everybody understands. That’s the idea behind the song. So, it’s not in a literal sense, it’s more just a thoughtful song. But it definitely took a different course when a buddy of mine passed away last year in a motorcycle accident about a week after we wrote the song. It became his song.”

The more that Chayce played it, the more he says he felt his friend Lance’s energy with him on stage, so it turned into his anthem, even though it wasn’t written specifically for him.

“I felt like after he passed away, he said, ‘Don’t write a song about me, I want this one.’ He kind of picked it for himself. So, just about every show, so we love to sing that song and dedicate it to him. It’s just about hanging on to those things that you love and staying true to who you are.”

Also during our conversation, Chayce talked about how “23” made the transition to country radio, the important role that music plays in dealing with loss, his new music, and his upcoming tour with Luke, who has supported him since his Idol win.

How did “23” manage to make that leap from streaming release to country radio and then to a certified gold plaque?

When I had initially moved to Nashville and met with my record label, we talked about taking the song to radio and then we talked about not taking it and what would be the options as far as getting some of my music on the radio. And at the time, we didn’t think that that would be the best route, for some reason, and we started working on some other stuff.

In the meantime, “23” was really taking its own course as far as streaming and its connection with the fans. So, I think that the fans playing it and streaming it so much, you can’t deny, at least whenever you see those numbers, that people are listening to it, and so, we all made the decision to take that song to country radio and it worked out.

Related: What Happened to American Idol Runner-up Willie Spence

As I was getting ready to talk to you, I rewatched your finale performance on American Idol of ‘23,” and when they announced you as the winner, you and Willie Spence hugged and said you would be friends forever, and then he passed as well. So, you’ve had a lot of loss in your life, is it music that gets you through it?

Music is definitely, I think, the all-healing cure for a lot of things, and it’s helped me get through a lot of things in my life, not just death. But it’s been the consistent medicine for me for as long as I can remember. And that’s why I love making it and that’s why I want to make music, to hopefully connect with people who need it. I guess maybe that’s why I enjoy writing and singing a little bit more vulnerable music, because I know it’s getting to where it needs to go, which is a little bit deeper than the surface level.

I think that writing songs has really helped me. I’m a big movie fanatic. I love watching old films and just escaping somewhere in my head. Anything that can do that like a song or a book or a movie is a very powerful thing.

So, you’re going out on tour with Luke Bryan. Luke does big venues. Is there added pressure as a result of being on tour with him?

It’s so much fun to get to open up for a guy like Luke and to learn from someone like him. He’s played such an instrumental part in my career and my development, making sure that I’m with the right people and doing the right things. I’ve just really admired everything that he’s done for me and I look up to him.

It’s honestly a relief when I get to go out with Luke because we know each other and it’s like family on the road, so we always have a good time and have a lot of fun. I love getting to sing for sing for 20,000 people, that just fires me up. That stuff doesn’t get me as nervous as the TV stuff. But, yeah, I’m thrilled just to be on the road with him, learning from him, and getting to sing for his fans, it’s just an awesome opportunity.

When you won, didn’t he invite you to go fishing? Have you ever done that?

Yeah, that was the start, and he hasn’t been able to get rid of me now. He took me fishing once and now he’s stuck with me, so I always tease him about that. But we’ve gone fishing a couple of times and he’s definitely been a huge mentor to me. Like I said, I can’t thank that guy enough for everything he’s done.

I read that he and his wife, they heard about somebody on The Bobby Bones Show that couldn’t get tickets to Adele and they managed that for them. He just does nice things. He seems to be a really good guy.

I came off the show and he said he was going to take me fishing, and I bugged him and I wanted to go fishing and he took me fishing. I go fishing at his place all the time now whenever I can. He’s done a really good job. And I think it goes to show a lot, especially for the contestants on the show now, how much the judges on the panel really care about your career.

There’s definitely some people who I’ve gotten to work with where I guarantee if Luke would have said, “Yeah, no, Chayce is not the guy,” then they wouldn’t have worked with me. So, it’s awesome that he’s rallied and had my back and made sure that I’ve made good decisions. I’m two years off the show now, I’ve got my music coming out, and now I get to go open up with him on tour.

It just goes to show, the artist and everybody, if you just keep your foot down on that gas pedal and just keep going, good things will come out of it. You just have to keep on trying. Even when you come off Idol, it’s not all handed to you. I think that’s a great myth; you have a lot of hard work to do.

I’m grateful that I put in that hard work and, thankfully, they’ve noticed how hard I’ve been working and invited me to come out on the tour and I’m there to do it. So, it’s an awesome feeling, a rewarding feeling to get to go and be a part of these kinds of things. Because I feel like coming off the show, you’re just afraid like, “Oh, man, I hope that wasn’t it.”

These days you’re writing with some of Nashville’s best. Tell us about the new music that you have coming soon.

I’ve gotten to work with really some of the best people in the industry and I’m not trying to say that in a bragging way, I’m saying that in a grateful way, because it’s honestly a spectacular thing. Some of the guys I’ve gotten to write with have written some of my favorite songs. So, it’s just a really incredible feeling to sit down with these guys who’ve been such a part of country music history for such a long time and get to pick their brains and come up with new song ideas.

Whenever I have something, it gets them excited, and that always feels good. And whenever they have something that they’ve brought just for me, that makes me feel pretty good, too. So, writing the new music has been a huge, I guess, therapeutic thing for me, just getting to sit down and create with these guys.

Related: Why American Idols Iam Tongi Is 'Scared' About Tonight's Top 8 Performance

You’re living your dream now, but there has to be a hard part to it, right? Is it leaving your family to move to Nashville, the long hours, or something else?

Well, I think that it’s just the reality. There’s La La Land and there’s reality, and the reality is that this is just as much of a job as any other job and you’re going to have to work extremely hard if you want to obtain it. You can’t land your dream job and then just show up to work in your pajamas and expect to keep the job. You’ve got to keep on working and showing up every day, getting up and putting on your best clothes, and trying your best.

The reality of it was how hard I had to work after [winning]. Moving away from your family, moving away from your friends, and totally isolating myself from everything that is home to me and creating a new life somewhere else. But taking little bits and pieces of home with you and staying in touch with your friends and family and making sure that you water those gardens that need to be tended to. I think it’s extremely important in life that you make sure that the people who are there for you, that you’re there for them.

Phone calls and Facetime, technology’s amazing these days, but it’s always hard not being there in person for birthday parties, for the births of babies, for weddings, and stuff like that. I’m in the season in my life where all my friends are having babies and getting married, so it is hard not being there for that kind of stuff, especially with some of the boys that I grew up with since I was 11 or 12 years old.

But I do get to see that they’re living their dream, getting to be daddies and moms and stuff, and I’m getting to live my dream and sing songs to people who, hopefully, want to hear me sing. That’s also just the reality of growing up and people going different ways. But like I said, it’s been important to me to maintain those people who are close to me and keep those relationships as fresh as possible. But what are you going to do? We all got to get up and go to work.

Hopefully, we’ll hear some love songs from you soon which means you’ll have found that special person.

Exactly. It’s just one of the beautiful things about being an artist. As I go through life, I get inspired by everything around me to create more music and, hopefully, put something out that makes the listeners feel at home. I’m just excited and grateful to be here, to be alive, and to be making music and that people are listening. It means a lot, you know. It’s a dream come true.

Next, Who Went Home and Who Made It Through to the Top 8 Tonight on American Idol