Vinnie Paolizzi moved to Nashville six years ago, chasing the bright lights and country music dreams achieved by icons like Kenny Chesney, Dolly Parton and, more recently, Taylor Swift.
Soon after arriving, Paolizzi found the success he was searching for in the form of a vivid community of songwriters and performers who were moving to Nashville at the same time.
“We all kind of landed at the same time and started going to the same kind of shows and we’d kind of recognize each other,” said Paolizzi, a 2016 entrepreneurship alumnus. “I feel like a lot of those people now are having some pretty big success and it’s been really nice to be able to share in that success and learn from each other’s mistakes.”
Tomorrow, Paolizzi will release his self-titled album. He has released five singles from the 10-track album so far, including “If It Would Only Rain” featuring Adam Hood, and “Left My Heart Behind,” a heartbroken piano-backed track featuring Meg McRee.
Other singles include “It Ain’t Easy” with Ben Chapman, a classic western blues track with a conversational outro that calls back to the feel of outlaw country artists, like Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
The album’s features are a product of the community Paolizzi developed in Nashville at writers rounds — gatherings of songwriters sharing their original music — and other songwriting events.
“It’s nice to be able to have these experiences together and to really share in them and not in like a superficial like ‘Hey, let’s get an Instagram together’ way but a ‘Hey, let’s create something together’ kind of way,” Paolizzi said.
Paolizzi first started writing music in middle school, growing up in West Chester, Pennsylvania. His writing picked up when he came to Temple in 2012, garnering inspiration from the Philadelphia DIY scene.
While at Temple, Paolizzi’s writing was so extensive, his freshman year roommate and childhood friend Tyler Sewell worried for his sanity.
“There was this one time I was like watching Netflix and I thought he was in bed,” said Sewell, a 2016 human resource management alumnus. “He popped up out of bed and just started writing down in his black notebook with all of his lyrics and his different lyric ideas, and it’s probably around 11 o’clock at night, and I’m like, ‘Dude, are you okay? Like, what is going on?’”
As Paolizzi’s time at Temple continued, he found his stride making music with other Temple students and performing at open mics and coffee shops.
Jac Carson, a 2016 entrepreneurship alumnus, met Paolizzi during their senior year at Temple. The pair bonded over making music and often played shows together before Paolizzi moved to Nashville.
Carson moved to Austin, Texas to pursue his own career in music, but the two still stay in touch with each other.
“Nashville is full of people who get down there and change who they are because it’s all the most talented people in the city,” Carson said. “They’re moving down to pursue this big dream. And that’s why there’s so many artists who look cookie cutter, they fall into this Nashville trap of being in the industry and doing exactly what they tell you, that kind of thing. And then [Vinnie] really hasn’t changed who he is at all.”
Paolizzi left for Nashville just a year after graduating from Temple. He’d perform upwards of four nights a week in Philadelphia. He made the move to Nashville to further his career and find a change of scenery.
“I went to New York for a couple of days, for a couple of weeks, actually, and went to LA for a week and then didn’t really vibe with either of those places,” Paolizzi said. “When I came to Nashville, I just had a really, really great experience and decided that, if it was the worst thing ever, I would just turn around and come home. It’s not really that far.”
Outside of the upcoming album, Paolizzi has released two EPs, “The Acoustic EP” and 2021’s “Private Sky,” which features tender songs like “The End of the World,” an apocalyptic love song straight out of the COVID-19 pandemic and “Annie Howell,” a romantic track about unconditional love.
Paolizzi is looking to record and release new music next year and plans to tour and play festivals as a part of his self-titled album release.
“If nothing else about this album, I am immensely proud of it,” Paolizzi said.