When small town Mississippi singer Colin Stough first auditioned for the celebrity judges on “American Idol” and they fell in love with his country vibe, he rightly predicted how transformative the show could be for him.
“This competition man, it could change my life,” he said after making it through to Hollywood, sharing that most people never leave his hometown of Gattman to chase their dreams.
After coming in third place on season 21 less than two months ago, Stough’s life does look very different than a year ago, when he was working as an HVAC technician after graduating from Hatley High School in 2022. Now 20, Stough spends most of his time in Nashville, where he’s had the good fortune of becoming buddies with some of the hottest names in country music right now.
Stough not only has a cheerleader in judge Luke Bryan, but also in rapper-turned-country-artist Jelly Roll. And he’s also become fast friends with rising country star and Nashville native Chase Matthew, posting glimpses of their late night escapades on social media, and recently sharing how the two connected and hit it off.
Chase Matthew Followed Colin Stough’s Journey on ‘American Idol’
After meeting each other, Stough and Matthew became fast friends. Just a week after the finale, Stough posted on Instagram after his first night hanging out with Matthew, 25, sharing a photo of them by a bonfire and a video of them riding motorbikes.
He wrote, “You can take the boys outta the country but you can’t take the country outta the boys🤘♠️”
Matthew also posted a photo from that night together and wrote, “Where there’s smoke there’s fire. Where there’s fire there’s boys. 💯 Good kickins last night with @colinstough”
In a story published on July 7, 2023, Stough told Music Mayhem Magazine that the two met through their managers.
“My manager is really good friends with his manager and he had hit me up on Instagram and was like, ‘Hey man, when you get into town, let’s go ride motorcycles or something,'” he recalled. “I’m like, sure, alright. So that’s what we did. And we just hit it off.”
Matthew told the outlet that he followed Stough’s journey on “Idol” and he could tell they’d be buddies if they met.
“I thought it was really cool to see a good old country boy, a young guy too,” he said. “And, you know, it’s kind of hard to find genuine country folk. There’s not a lot of people that are really about it and you could tell as soon as you met that guy, or even seeing that guy on tv, he is just country as grits and biscuits.”
“But we’ve connected through Instagram,” he continued, “and we’ve been kicking it here and there, and he’s just a really good guy. He’s got a lot of awesome things coming.”
Stough added, “You know, me and Chase, we’re boys. We hang out a lot during the week whenever he is home, whenever I’m here, and we just got a lot of similarities.”
As to whether the duo might collaborate in the future, Stough told Music Mayhem, “I’m sure if we wanted to write a song, it wouldn’t be hard to come up with something.”
Colin Stough’s Career is Growing Fast, With Multiple Celebrities Cheering Him On
On June 1, Stough shared a behind-the-scenes video of him reconnecting with Jelly Roll, whom he met when the star performed on the “Idol” finale two weeks prior. Jelly Roll, who won three CMT Awards in April, greeted Stough with a huge hug.
Stough captioned the post, “Had a blast last night at the @jellyroll615 show last night! Kinda run into struggle Jennings as well.”
Jelly Roll replied, “Love you bubba- so happy for you – glad to be in your corner.”
Stough told Music Mayhem that the star’s continued support of him is a dream come true.
“You know, man, it means the world to me. Cause that’s just kind of the thing you always dream about till it happens,” he said.
Stough also told the outlet that he had a chance to bond with Bryan, who’d been a huge cheerleader for him throughout his “Idol” journey, while they rehearsed for their finale duet, Conway Twitty’s “Slow Hand.”
“We killed it up there, me and him,” Stough said. “When we got in a room to rehearse and stuff like that, we just kinda hit it off cause we have similar upkeep about how we were raised and stuff like that.”
At one point during the season, Bryan told Stough after one of his performances, “You’re, like, becoming my little science experiment because I know every emotion going on in your head because I grew up very similar to the way you have.”
Bryan has been known to continue supporting country artists who’ve risen to the top of the “Idol” competition, including season 19 winner Chayce Beckham, who’s currently on tour with him. He has also had HunterGirl perform at his Nashville club and invited her to see him play in Las Vegas in February.
Stough has been staying rental homes in Nashville and is looking to buy a house there in between songwriting sessions and tour dates. He’s scheduled to open for Drake White in Phenix City, Alabama, on July 28, return to Mississippi for his first hometown concert on August 10, and open the Bulls, Bands and Barrels show in Louisiana on August 26.