Oliver Anthony Music, who became an overnight country star for his viral song “Rich Men North of Richmond,” read a portion of Scripture before performing his song for the first time.
The Farmville, Virginia artist – whose real name is Christopher Anthony Lunsford – knocked Jason Aldean’s “Try That in a Small Town” off the No. 1 spot on iTunes with his “blue-collar anthem,” according to Billboard.
And Anthony shared in a Facebook post that he’s already turned down $8 million offers because he doesn’t want to be in the spotlight or play stadiums.
Hundreds gathered to see Anthony perform his new hit for the first time at the Morris Farm Market in Currituck County, North Carolina Sunday.
Anthony told journalist Jason Howerton he reached out to God for help from alcohol addiction and mental health struggles. About 30 days into his sobriety, someone reached out to record his song and a few days later it went mega-viral.
“That’s the beautiful thing about this country, even an idiot like me can make something happen. If I can do it, you can do it,” he told the crowd as he opened his Bible.
Anthony said he “felt compelled to share” Psalm 37 and read verses 12 to 20.
12 The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.
14 The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.
15 But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.
16 Better the little that have righteousness
than the wealth of many wicked;
17 for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the Lord upholds the righteous.
18 The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care,
and their inheritance will endure forever.
19 In times of disaster they will not wither;
in days of famine they will have plenty.
20 But the wicked will perish:
Though the Lord’s enemies are like the flowers of the field,
they will be consumed and they will go up in smoke.
The audience that spanned acres applauded.
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As someone who grew up on country music, I can say it’s refreshing to see an artist who is authentically country. Country music on the radio has strayed so far from its roots.
He posted the following introduction on his Facebook page:
It’s been difficult as I browse through the 50,000+ messages and emails I’ve received in the last week. The stories that have been shared paint a brutally honest picture. Suicide, addiction, unemployment, anxiety and depression, hopelessness and the list goes on.
Im sitting in such a weird place in my life right now. I never wanted to be a full time musician, much less sit at the top of the iTunes charts. Draven from RadioWv and I filmed these tunes on my land with the hope that it may hit 300k views. I still don’t quite believe what has went on since we uploaded that. It’s just strange to me.
People in the music industry give me blank stares when I brush off 8 million dollar offers. I don’t want 6 tour buses, 15 tractor trailers and a jet. I don’t want to play stadium shows, I don’t want to be in the spotlight. I wrote the music I wrote because I was suffering with mental health and depression. These songs have connected with millions of people on such a deep level because they’re being sung by someone feeling the words in the very moment they were being sung. No editing, no agent, no bullshit. Just some idiot and his guitar. The style of music that we should have never gotten away from in the first place.
So that being said, I have never taken the time to tell you who I actually am. Here’s a formal introduction:
My legal name is Christopher Anthony Lunsford. My grandfather was Oliver Anthony, and “Oliver Anthony Music” is a dedication not only to him, but 1930’s Appalachia where he was born and raised. Dirt floors, seven kids, hard times. At this point, I’ll gladly go by Oliver because everyone knows me as such. But my friends and family still call me Chris. You can decide for yourself, either is fine.
In 2010, I dropped out of high school at age 17. I have a GED from Spruce Pine, NC. I worked multiple plant jobs in Western NC, my last being at the paper mill in McDowell county. I worked 3rd shift, 6 days a week for $14.50 an hour in a living hell. In 2013, I had a bad fall at work and fractured my skull. It forced me to move back home to Virginia. Due to complications from the injury, it took me 6 months or so before I could work again.
From 2014 until just a few days ago, I’ve worked outside sales in the industrial manufacturing world. My job has taken me all over Virginia and into the Carolinas, getting to know tens of thousands of other blue collar workers on job sites and in factories. Ive spent all day, everyday, for the last 10 years hearing the same story. People are SO damn tired of being neglected, divided and manipulated.
In 2019, I paid $97,500 for the property and still owe about $60,000 on it. I am living in a 27′ camper with a tarp on the roof that I got off of craigslist for $750.
There’s nothing special about me. I’m not a good musician, I’m not a very good person. I’ve spent the last 5 years struggling with mental health and using alcohol to drown it. I am sad to see the world in the state it’s in, with everyone fighting with each other. I have spent many nights feeling hopeless, that the greatest country on Earth is quickly fading away.
That being said, I HATE the way the Internet has divided all of us. The Internet is a parasite, that infects the minds of humans and has their way with them. Hours wasted, goals forgotten, loved ones sitting in houses with each other distracted all day by technology made by the hands of other poor souls in sweat shops in a foreign land.
When is enough, enough? When are we going to fight for what is right again? MILLIONS have died protecting the liberties we have. Freedom of speech is such a precious gift. Never in world history has the world had the freedom it currently does. Don’t let them take it away from you.
Just like those once wandering in the desert, we have lost our way from God and have let false idols distract us and divide us. It’s a damn shame.
Oliver, you got me to listen to a country music song again. I’m just one of many rooting for your continued blessings and success!
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