Tyler Childers (born June 21, 1991) is an American singer and songwriter. His music is a mix of country, bluegrass and folk. He released his breakthrough album Purgatory in August 2017. Childers released his third and most recent LP, Country Squire, via his own Hickman Holler Records, under exclusive license to RCA Records in August 2019.
Tyler Childers was born and raised in Lawrence County, Kentucky. His father worked in the coal industry and his mother is a nurse. He learned singing in church where he sang in the church choir. He started to play guitar and write songs when he was around 13. He moved from Lawrence County to Paintsville, Kentucky, where he attended Paintsville High School and graduated in 2009. Fellow country musicians Chris Stapleton and Loretta Lynn (Van Lear, KY) also hail from Paintsville. He studied for a semester at Western Kentucky University, and enrolled at Bluegrass Community and Technical College for a few semesters. He dropped out of college and did odd jobs for some time while pursuing a music career.
Childers began performing in Lexington, Kentucky and Huntington, West Virginia. In 2011, when he was 19, Childers released his first album, Bottles And Bibles. He has also released two EPs recorded in 2013 at Red Barn Radio, a radio show from Lexington. The two EPs were later released as one after the success of his album Purgatory, and reached No. 5 on Heatseekers Albums.
He had his first success with Purgatory, a breakthrough album released on August 4, 2017. The album was produced by Sturgill Simpson and David Ferguson and recorded at The Butcher Shoppe in Nashville. Simpson also played guitar and sang backing vocals on the album, with Miles Miller on drums, Stuart Duncan on fiddle and Russ Paul on other instruments. It debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Heatseekers Albums chart, No. 17 on the Country albums chart and No. 4 on the Americana/Folk albums chart. In September 2018, Childers won Emerging Artist of the Year at the 2018 Americana Music Honors & Awards, where he gave an acceptance speech noted for its criticism of the Americana genre label, saying that "as a man who identifies as a country music singer, I feel Americana ain't no part of nothing and is a distraction from the issues that we're facing on a bigger level as country music singers. It kind of feels like purgatory."
Country Squire, a second album under the Hickman Holler label, and Childers' third overall, was released on August 2, 2019, after being announced in May 2019. This album was again produced by Simpson and Ferguson. The video of the lead single from the album "House Fire" was also released on May 16, 2019.
Childers' music is influenced by his home state of Kentucky and its connection to country music and bluegrass. He often writes about coal mining, which was his father's occupation, and its effects. Rebecca Bengal, writing for The Guardian, described Childers' songs as a "counternarrative to the outsiders who seek to perpetuate stereotypes of backwardness and poverty." Childers emphasizes lyrical content in songs, comparing the songwriting process to telling short stories.