Don’t look for Matt Gary up there on any pedestal. Sure, he’s already won legions of fans by sharing the stage with some of Country’s biggest acts. But even in those vaster venues, he has that knack that only a few artists have, of making everyone feel like he’s singing only to them.

“I’m easygoing, happy-go-lucky — just a regular guy,” he says, his winning grin making that point clear. “Really, I’m a normal dude that gets to play country music. I’m just me!”

If country is about being true to yourself, then Gary is one of the truest young performers. You can hear it in “Back,” his most recent single. His voice is unaffected. He doesn’t show off — but listen closer. He does skip nimbly over a soaring melody, showing strong chops without shoving them in your face. He conveys the song’s romantic drama with no affectation but plenty of emotion.

“I grew up listening to all kinds of music,” he says. “Country music became the soundtrack to my life. I remember being in a car with my buddies, listening to Garth Brooks and Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw as we drove down to the Lake of the Ozarks. We’d go out in a boat. Life was good. That’s what I want people to feel with my music. I want it to put you in a special time and place in your life.”

Growing up in Lenexa, Kansas, Gary was interested mainly in playing soccer, golf, or being out on a boat. Music edged into the picture when the teacher in his elementary school music class heard something exceptional in his voice. At her urging, Gary’s parents got him into piano, guitar and voice lessons. He started singing in church and in school productions.

Gary traveled frequently to Music City before making it his home in 2007. Year by year, step by step, he made himself known as a hard worker, a gifted singer and performer. He weathered a few hard knocks, made a few bad decisions. But over time he mastered his craft.

Today in studio with producer Jeremy Stover, Gary is wrapping up an EP for release late this summer, followed by his first full-length album in the fall. Signing an independent promotion deal with in2une Nashville led to Gary landing a label deal with West End Music/Warner Bros/ADA New York.

“Country music is about the story,” he sums up. “And everybody has a story. They could be in the suburbs. They could be on a beach in L.A. or in a high-rise in Manhattan. I want to meet these folks to find out, what is their country? Because there’s something in country music for everybody.”