AboutBorn and raised in rural Arkansas, singer/songwriter Cody Belew spent his childhood fishing, building forts, riding horses, and catching lightning bugs in mason jars. His love of the South is in his blood so naturally, his music reflects the gritty/soulful textures that separate him from the pack in today’s country landscape. While Cody reminisces about the smells of hot biscuits on his mama’s stove, the sounds of crickets and bullfrogs in the fields, and the rough textures of lumber he worked with with his dad in the family barn, the thing he says speaks to him most is the one-room church in his hometown of Beebe, Arkansas where he learned to sing when he was just a toddler.
Since moving to Nashville in 2012 Cody’s already seen his original songs featured in hit TV series and films, but he’s never forgotten his roots. His very first memory is of standing on a chair next to a piano in that church, singing “This Little Light of Mine” to the delight of the congregation.
“I got a reaction out of people that I really enjoyed,” he says. “And the seed was planted.”
That seed took root in a big way when Cody joined the school choir in the 5th grade. Choir director Janie Cunningham took him under her wing and nurtured his talent, forming a lasting mentorship. Though she understood his natural ability, it was recognized by the broader community the following year during the finale of his 6th grade music concert. Cody stepped in to perform the solo in Michael Jackson’s “We Are the World” after the original singer failed to show up. The choir performed for the school body that afternoon, and Cody received the first standing ovation of his life. When they performed that evening for the parents, he received the second.
“I never forgot that feeling,” he said,”and it cemented in my mind and in the mind of my community that music was what I was going to go out into the world and do.”
The rich intersection of musical influences on Cody was an accidental one. With no outlet for formal training, he found himself under the tutelage of the women locked inside his three treasured cassette tapes: Dolly Parton’s Greatest Hits, The Judds Greatest Hits, and a bootlegged copy of The Bodyguard soundtrack that he found in his mother’s purse.
“I was on a hunt for ‘Big Red’ gum and only took the cassette to my room because I thought that the word ‘bodyguard’ meant something dirty,” Cody laughs.
With his dad, he was introduced to Lynyrd Skynyrd, and in the car with his mom, he sang along with every song Reba McEntire released.
During summer baseball, Cody was introduced to a seemingly otherworldly form of worship. His baseball coach would pick him up on Saturdays and take him to Mt. Arratt Baptist Church, where he would sing old hymns as the guest soloist. This immersion into Black culture and music led Cody to the inevitable influence from the likes of Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, and James Brown. To listen to Cody Belew is to be taken on a journey through Southern Louisiana's Cajun music, the soulful sounds of Memphis' Beale Street Blues, Kentucky bluegrass, and Nashville's Country...all in a single song.
Pursuing a music degree, Cody eventually moved to Nashville where he made ends meet working with fashion, furniture restoration and of course, music. It wasn’t long before his vocal and songwriting talents were recognized and he was invited to be on NBC’s The Voice where he showcased his soulful voice and magnetic charisma. He finished in the Top 8 and went on to open for major music acts including Delta Rae, Florida Georgia Line, and Dierks Bentley.
Not only a powerful vocalist, Cody is a gifted songwriter who has collaborated with Grammy Award-winning artists such as Deana Carter and Mike Reid, ACM Award winner Tia Sellers, and ascending recording artists Jillian Jacqueline, Autumn McEntire, Hailey Whitters, Rick Brantley, and Waylon Payne.
In 2020, Cody signed with Visionary Media Group and kicked off a new chapter in his musical journey. His rowdy holiday single “Hang Your Hat on My Christmas Tree” was featured in the Viacom movie Dashing in December (with a sparkly Dave Aude remix of the song out in November, 2022).
In the coming months, Cody will release a series of new songs, from candid self-penned originals to stunning takes on well-worn classics by artists who inspired him. A larger project in the works for 2022 will find Cody writing with top songwriters while channeling sounds from the past.