With four top albums, a consistently growing fan-base and nearly 50,000 followers on Twitter, Ben Rector’s fame has skyrocketed since playing local shows in Fayetteville as a University of Arkansas student.
Rector BSBA’10 has always had an ear for music. He took piano lessons as a child, learned guitar and began songwriting in high school before studying music at the University of Arkansas.
Originally from Tulsa, Rector decided to come to the University of Arkansas. Not only was the school relatively close to his hometown, but his sister was a U of A alumna and he received the chancellor’s scholarship.
“I loved it,” Rector said. “I got to live with great people and meet great friends.”
During his freshman year he released a self-titled album and quickly grew a dedicated fan base. As the album grew in popularity, Rector began touring in Arkansas and surrounding states on weekends and during breaks from school. He played nearly 200 shows throughout his college career.
As a freshman, he won the grand prize in the pop category of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, in 2006, for his song “Conversation.” He was the youngest person ever to win the award. In 2008, he released his first full-length record, Twenty Tomorrow, followed by Songs That Duke Wrote in 2009 and Into the Morning in 2010.
“When I’m touring, I get to see a lot of different cities and college towns and I really do think Fayetteville is unique and awesome,” Rector said.
The University of Arkansas helped prepare Rector for his music career and made him comfortable playing to a specific demographic, he said.
After graduation, he never imagined his music career would take off so rapidly.
“I tend to be pessimistic when it comes to business stuff and did not expect it to go well this quickly,” he said. “To a fault, I have low expectations, but I work hard and believe in what I’m doing.”
Rector’s fans never stopped believing in him. His third album, Into the Morning, peaked at #5 on the iTunes pop chart and #10 on the iTunes overall chart. His fourth album, Something Like This, debuted at #1 on iTunes Singer Songwriter Chart and #4 on iTunes albums overall.
Rector and his wife, Hillary Swanton Rector BA’09, joint members of the Arkansas Alumni Association, live in Nashville where he is working with a team to finish production on his latest album, which is expected to release this summer. He also plans to release a single from the new album this spring to satisfy fan’s demands for more Ben Rector hits. At 26 years old, he has grown a loyal following through touring, top singles and albums, and consistent hard work.
Things have changed dramatically since Rector was a student in Fayetteville.
“I miss campus,” he said. “I miss going to meet my friends for lunch, riding my scooter around and occasionally going to class.”
Though his scenery may be different and his audience has grown dramatically, Rector still gets to do exactly what he wants. For him, it’s all about the music.
“I get to do something that I really like for a living, but I’m not that guy who’s like ‘you’re going to see my name in lights,’” he said. “I just like to play good music.”