Hailing from Montgomery County, Pa., and now a Nashville resident, Bryan Ruby recently put out his own version of a 1985 song called “Centerfield.” Hearing it as a kid, the song grew close to his heart.
Ruby said the lyrics can be interpreted as a powerful message of strength for our community. This year his debut EP, titled Diamonds Are Forever, was released. The EP tells a story of growing up, playing baseball, all the trials he has gone through, and overcoming the pain. This EP is “very authentic.” Additionally, it will give people a great introduction to the type of artist he is.
This year is looking to be the singer’s most exciting one yet in his music career. We discussed the challenges of being an out-of-the-closet gay country singer and a former baseball player, the state of the country music industry for LGBTQ artists, and coming to some baseball stadiums here in New Jersey this past summer.
Congratulations on your new single! This is a cover of a song by another artist; what made you choose this specific song to do your own version of?
Bryan Ruby: This is one of the only covers I’ve done. Usually, I do just release originals. “Centerfield” is a baseball anthem that’s been a part of my life for the last 20 years. I would always hear it at the ballpark. It’s close to my heart and I wanted to do my own version. There is also a great message in the lyrics. I didn’t want to copy the original version though. We bumped the tempo up and added three or four extra guitars so it’s really rocking.
What was the recording process like for this song? Pretty easy or did it take a while to get it right?
BR: It took a bit of time. I felt some pressure that I don’t usually feel when creating my original stuff. This is an iconic song so I felt I had to do it justice. It took us a little time to really figure out in the studio what to do to make it my own version. I am glad we took the time though because I feel we got it right.
How has it been being gay as a professional baseball player, as well as now being a country music singer, when those two industries have not always been the biggest LGBTQ allies?
BR: It has been tough. Both the baseball world and country music world have not been filled with LGBTQ+ representation. So it has been challenging to find where I belong in those places. I truly love playing baseball though; I have been playing ball since before I knew I was gay.
At age 13 or 14, that is when I started to feel different. However, I really feel baseball and country music are things I love. Now I truly do feel proud I am out of the closet in those worlds to show people like us belong there. That is why we started a nonprofit now called Proud to Be in Baseball, to show other LGBTQ+ kids they belong in sports. We have even done some events in your state. I spoke at the New Jersey Pride Chamber of Commerce and we had a booth for our organization at a Trenton Thunder game.
Do you feel the country music industry has been getting better for queer artists?
BR: Slowly but surely. There are a lot more allies now. It’s great to have straight artists that are allies of the queer community. That helps us find our place and gives us the strength to be LGBTQ artists in country music.
Who would your dream country music collaboration be with?
BR: I just did a collaboration called “The Standouts” with another out gay country singer named Ty Herndon. For the next one though it would be great to do it with Brooke Eden or Brothers Osborne.
I heard you have a new EP out now. What are some themes that are covered in your lyrics on this project?
BR: My new EP is called Diamonds Are Forever. It really is just introducing the world to who I am. It will let people in on my sound and what I want to say with my songs. The whole EP has a story about growing up, playing ball, coming out, and a lot of the things I went through in my life. It will be a cool moment to release this project. We did a release show here in Nashville ss well.
What would you like listeners to take away from the EP ?
BR: I would like the queer audience to see that people like them are represented in country music. It is important to see someone like you. There are also themes of overcoming adversity and struggling through challenges on the other side as a better person. Getting to a place where you are enjoying life and having fun is another great theme woven through these songs. The EP looks forward and back. Like it is great to have things you are looking forward to, but also learn life lessons from growing up. Hopefully people will like it.
Do you have any touring plans yet?
BR: I have been out on the road a little bit. I was on a tour this spring and summer going around to baseball stadiums and singing some songs at different ball parks around the country. I even did a post-game concert at the Trenton Thunder game a little while back this summer. Then after that, I did about six gigs out in the Midwest. We are not at the point of a full tour yet, but we’re doing shorter runs. I’m working up to trying to get on a full tour.
What is one country music album that you recommend to our readers?
BR: I’m a music guy through and through so that’s a hard question. Recently, though, I have been listening to Brooke Eden’s new EP, Outlaw Love, which came out in June, and I have had it on repeat a lot. It is a real fun one. She’s a lesbian country artist and I’ve really just connected to that project on a deep level.
What has been your favorite memory of releasing music so far in your career?
BR:I was playing a show in Milwaukee recently and I saw somebody in the audience singing along. Now going out on the road and being able to see people sing the music I wrote, I know it’s probably a normal thing for bigger artists, but for me, that is really such a special thing to experience.