A Voice Beyond His YearsSep 01, 2023 ● By Ashli Urano
By Ashli Urano
At 16 years old, Tristan Roberson’s dream of country music stardom is in full swing. Beyond simply hitting the right notes, his story is a journey of growth, self-discovery and a relentless drive to succeed. From the earliest stage of Roberson’s life, his parents noticed his profound sense of musical awareness, and during elementary school, his teachers often noticed him humming, singing and playing imaginary drums. “Tristan was blessed with a natural talent for music that seems to flow effortlessly through him,” his mother, Natalie, explained. “He’s singing his way through life. This remarkable gift has always been a part of him.”
For Roberson, a defining moment came when he was eight years old. “It all truly started when I received my first guitar,” he recalled with a smile. “It was a bright red electric guitar. That’s when I started experimenting with vocals and learned to play instruments at Frisco’s School of Rock.” In addition to private lessons, School of Rock also taught Roberson and other students to play classic rock songs as a band. They rehearsed weekly, then came together to perform on stage in front of an audience.
When it was time to take on new challenges, Roberson enrolled at Frisco School of Music. For the next five years, he flourished, excelling in drums, vocals, piano and guitar. His parents then opted for private lessons inside their home. Having a dedicated music room with a piano, drums, guitars and microphones made this decision possible.
Roberson’s journey to find his musical identity took time, but the outcome was well worth the wait. “This year was when I really knew I wanted to sing country music. At first, I was singing pop and indie songs. It was definitely a learning process to find my strengths. I actually didn’t like country music at all until a few years ago,” Roberson said with a laugh. “Tyler Childers and Parker McCollum are two performers who have influenced me in many ways. I especially like McCollum because he doesn’t have a thick accent and the way we sing is similar.”
Describing his songwriting process, Roberson offers a unique approach. “I have to make a song title first, then see what sounds good with it,” he laughed. “Next, I make a chord progression on the piano or guitar. I play it over and over again while singing random words. When I record and fine-tune the song; it makes sense and eventually comes together.”
As a songwriter, Roberson is determined to make his music personal as well as meaningful. The song he wrote that makes him the proudest is about overcoming depression. “When people listen to my songs, for me, I want them to feel they aren’t alone,” he said. “I want them to know there are others out there who are going through the same thing. The main point of the song I wrote is that battling depression is hard, but you’re going to make it.”
Roberson feels strongly that emotion is the heartbeat of music. “Singing without feeling won’t resonate with anyone,” He explained. “If you’re singing with a straight face, no one is going to hear you. You’ve got to have emotion and actually feel the song. Let your body do whatever it needs to do to express what you’re feeling.”
Roberson’s best friend, who is also a musician, has been sharing his music through social media for a few years, and it didn’t take long before he convinced Roberson to do the same. Within two weeks of posting cover songs to social media, a scout expressed interest in discussing Roberson’s future. “I ended up signing with a management company based out of Nashville. They’re going to produce my first album and help get my name out there,” he explained. “It’s really exciting for me because I’m new to the industry.” Roberson has a collection of original songs being produced and copyrighted. While he doesn’t have an exact date, his first album is tentatively scheduled for release next year.
After recently attending the American Country Music Awards at The Ford Center at The Star, something truly magical happened to Roberson. In that moment, surrounded by country music stars, he had a glimpse of the future he’s striving for. He said, “It was surreal because in that moment I thought, ‘Maybe one day I’ll be up there.’ I know the road ahead might have its challenges, but I’ll never give up. In the end, it’ll all be worth it.”
Ashli Urano is a freelance writer obsessed with competitive tennis, true crime and her Goldendoodle named Sadie Kireina.