Country sensation Tony Evans Jr. learned his biggest life lessons from his father, Tony Evans Sr. "Everything came from my dad," he declares. "My dad's an artist. I grew up seeing him in the studio and that's what made me want to be a singer.”

With his new EP Starless on the charts, and his dad cheering him on every step of the way, EBONY sat down with father and son to learn more about their bond, the instrument that Evans Jr. secretly knows to play and why it’s important for young Black men to have a fatherly figure to guide them in life, just in time for Father's Day.

EBONY: When did you learn to play the guitar?

Tony Evans Jr.: I started playing when I was about 10 or 11. My first instrument was actually the flute.

What childhood event made want to be a country singer?

Evans. Jr.: It’s funny, it’s really the opposite of that. When I was a kid, I started singing at the family reunions. I was singing songs that I wrote and playing the guitar. When I finished, my family said, “You're a country singer.” And I said, “No, I don't want to be a country singer.” I didn't think it was cool at the time. And I still remember to this day, my auntie said, “You say that now, but we’ll have this same conversation in 10 years and we'll see.” She was absolutely right. That’s how I got started in country music. My family and I always loved it, but it just took me a while to come around.

How has your experience been as a Black musician in the country genre?

Evans Jr.: There are challenges, but I don't really think about them. Honestly, I've met a lot of nice people in the industry. But I'm an independent artist, so they are going to be challenges no matter what color my skin is. I just keep pushing through

What are some of the experiences that you've had that you've been able to write about?

Evans Jr: I’m still kind of figuring it out. I've obviously had my heart broken a time or two. So that really inspires a lot of my music. I think hopes for my life in the future inspire me. I'm young and I know I have a lot of experiences ahead of me. A lot of my music is about things I hope to experience.

Do you find that your music is crossing over to a Black audience?

Evans Jr.: I have fans of every color and nationality. I find that my biggest support group right now is Black women and I love it. It’s what I always hoped for it. I'm from Atlanta, so I grew up watching Teddy Pendergrass and Marvin Gaye. I wanted to have the sisters support me and I didn't know how I was gonna make it happen with country music. But somehow, some way it happened and I'm grateful for it.

What defines a country song versus an R&B or pop song?

Evans Jr. Some people will say that it's about the content, but I'll tell you what country means to me. It’s the way the song is communicated and the instrumentation: the guitar pick and the pedal play. I grew up fishing and being out in the woods and that type of stuff, but that doesn't really inspire me musically. I like to sing love songs. It doesn’t matter what the song is about, it's just a feeling. And when you feel it, you know.

Would you say you're putting the sexy in country?

Evans Jr.: I wouldn't say it myself, but I think that can be said.

Where would you like your music to go in the future? What's next for you?

Evans Jr.:  I'm not really big on setting goals, but I think I'm getting a little bit better at it. My short-term goal is to just get on stage a whole lot more for my fans and release new music. My long-term goal is to just be everywhere. I'm starting to build fan bases all around the world right now and in all different types of countries: Brazil, London and Germany and everywhere. I want to be able to do shows there and see everybody.

This question is for your dad. When you saw your son's talent, how did you nurture it? 

Evans Sr.: I began to pour into him all of my skills and knowledge about music and the music industry. More importantly, I tried to prepare him for all of the disappointments of the business and keep him motivated to keep at it.

Tony Evans Sr. and Tony Evans Jr.

How many ways are you proud of your son’s accomplishments?

Evans Sr.: I am not so much proud as I am honored to watch my son's work ethic. He is truly dedicated to his craft and loves his fan base. The hard work that he displays is amazing to watch. He inspires and motivates me.

Your dad is your biggest fan! What have you learned from him about being persistent and going for what you want?

Tony Evans Jr.: I’d say the most important lesson I’ve learned over the years is patience. I've been doing this since I was 10 years old. I'm 25 now so it's been a long time. I learned that you may not know where you’re going, but you can't think about that all the time. You just have to think about where you are. That's my mantra. One of the biggest things he's taught me is to keep your head down and do the work, and when you look up, you might have a totally different view.

What is the biggest lesson you taught your son?

Tony Evans Sr.: The biggest lesson that I taught my son was to always remember, life is about making building and keeping good relationships.

What are some of the themes you're exploring on your new album Starless?

Evans Jr.: There’s a song called "Kids We Never Had" which is about the feeling after a breakup when you're missing that person. You're trying to forget the memories that you made and the future that you’ll never have with them now. It's a sad song. But it's kind of happy too because it's reminiscing on the good things that could have happened.

So many young Black men don't have their fathers in their lives.

Man, it's, it's hard for me to even picture life without it. It's stability. It's a North Star. One of the biggest things that my dad did is he didn't let me get too far out of line. That's what I think a lot of young Black men in our community just don't have. I don't have the answers but we as Black men have to find that somewhere. If we don't have a father, we have to find that stability, that discipline and that direction in our lives. That might be from an uncle or a role model.

What advice do you give to other Black fathers on raising Black sons?

Evans Sr.: It's important for us as Black fathers to find the balance between showing our sons love and discipline. Once that balance has been accomplished, then it's important to allow them to find their passions. After they have found their passions and understand discipline and love, God bless us child!