Metro Weekly

Fancy Hagood: “Music Has Been My Center of Joy”

Fancy Hagood is the very picture of pure country -- with a little Elton John pop thrown in for good measure.

Fancy Hagood -- Photo: Natalie Osborne
Fancy Hagood — Photo: Natalie Osborne

“Music has been my center of joy,” says Fancy Hagood. “I was singing way before I was having full-blown conversations. I don’t know if it comes from another life — a previous life — but from my earliest memory, music is the thing that makes me feel centered. It’s the thing that makes me feel like myself. I love to sing.”

And, increasingly, the world loves to hear Fancy sing. The 32-year-old Arkansas native, who was raised in “a very traditional Christian evangelical household” and who now calls Nashville his home, released his first single in 2015, the beat-enriched, delightfully catchy “Goodbye,” under the moniker Who is Fancy.

He had co-signed with Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta on Big Machine Label Group and Dr. Luke on Prescription Songs, and he freely acknowledges he had little control over either his persona or career.

Case in point: The original video for “Goodbye” didn’t even reveal the adorably burly, bearded bear of a singer. Instead, three separate videos were shot, identical in their camera moves, background action, and edits, but each featuring a different “type” of person — a tattooed twink, a black drag queen, a plus-sized black woman — miming the lyrics as, dazed and dead-eyed, they underwent a controlled — one might even say abusive — transformation.

Hagood is forthright about his lack of involvement in that early part of his career, noting the video alone “should have been a big warning sign to me.”

Of 2015, he says, “Nothing was my idea. Everything was chosen for me. I did not have a voice. What was happening in those videos is what was happening to me in real life at the time. And it was really damaging to me, not only as an artist, but as a person. So I can speak to the whole Who Is Fancy thing — that name was chosen for me.”

He had bigger issues when the single “Boys Like You,” despite a thrilling performance on national television on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars, was unceremoniously quashed.

“I stood on Dancing with the Stars, in between Ariana Grande and Meghan Trainor, and all the while behind the scenes I’m being told I’m not a superstar and all these things,” he says. “Boys Like You” cleaned up on the music apps — Spotify alone shows it at 70 million streams — but “they wouldn’t take it to the radio because of fear, because I would’ve been a boy singing about a boy on American radio in 2015. And for some reason that was just too edgy for even the biggest names in music.

“Really,” he continues, “what it would’ve been is groundbreaking and historic. But instead of letting that be, they squashed it and they tried to squash me.”

Hagood cut ties with Braun, Borchetta, and Dr. Luke and forged his own path in Nashville as an independent musician.

“I know what I’m capable of, I know where I belong,” he says. “I know what tables I sit at. My chair was not pulled out for me — I earned that spot. And no Scooter Braun, no Dr. Luke, no Monte Lipman at Republic, are ever going to make me feel small because I’ve seen my greatness and I’m going to work towards that greatness every single day in my career.”

Hagood gradually reintroduced himself as an out, proud gay country-pop artist. “I just thought to myself, there is a lane for me and I’m just going to start making music that feels right to me. I didn’t want to put a genre on it. I didn’t want to put any sort of pressure on it.”

His debut album, Southern Curiosity, released in 2021, is a sterling showcase for his clever, melody-driven songwriting and gentle, ethereal tenor. Songs like “Forest,” “Either,” and “Good Man” resonate with tender, introspective emotion. He can kick ass, too, evidenced in the album’s epic, gospel-tinged title track and the thumping “Another Lover Says.” But no matter the song, there is the feel of a wistful, gay troubadour present throughout. He’s pure country — but with a little Elton John thrown in for good measure.

Fancy Hagood: Southern Sound album
Fancy Hagood: Southern Sound

Hagood makes no bones about being an out gay man in his music. In “Southern Curiosity,” for instance, he sings, “Brought up by the sons and daughters / From the church of the Nazarene / But late at night just in case they wonder / It’s a strong man holdin’ me.”

“My original dream when I moved to Nashville was to be a country artist,” he says during a casually refreshing, hour-long Zoom. “That was what I really wanted to do. I drove to Nashville in my Dodge Nitro — the first time I ever drove on a highway — listening to Keith Urban and Sugarland and Sara Evans and Little Big Town. And my dream was to join the ranks of country music greatness. And I’m slowly chipping away at that.”

The floodgates are starting to crack for Hagood, who will open for Brothers Osborne at The Anthem in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, Oct. 14. His recent single, “Southern Sound,” released earlier this week, is a gorgeous country-pop swooner, with a chorus that shifts ever so slightly into minor chords, providing the song added richness and depth.

In conversation, Hagood is resolute but he’s also humble, seeming at times in awe of the success he’s achieved in such a short time. But then, talent has a way of rising to the top.

“Growing up in the [evangelical] faith actually taught me a lot about blind faith,” he says. “And I have that in myself and my music. I’ve had a tumultuous, treacherous journey in the music industry. And at the end of the day, I just have a true — possibly delusional — but a true blind faith in myself and my ability.

“And I want to share that with people because I think people need it. I think music makes people feel the same way it makes me feel. And especially being queer, I don’t know that there’s enough of us in the mainstream. And I just think there are so many stories. I’m a songwriter at heart. What I love to do is write songs and tell stories. There are so many stories that have not been explored or told in a mainstream market. And I just feel really impassioned to tell those stories.”

Fancy Hagood opens for Brothers Osborne on Saturday, Oct. 14, at 8 p.m. at The Anthem, 901 Wharf St. SW in Washington, D.C. Tickets are $49.50 to $89.50. Visit or call 202-888-0020.

To learn more about Fancy, visit

Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @fancyhagood.

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