Happy 36th birthday to Brett Eldredge! The singer was born on March 23, 1986, in his hometown of Paris, Ill.

Eldredge grew up listening to an eclectic list of music that included Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin. From very early on, music was a part of his life.

"There’s a video of me singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in the living room with a Chicago Cubs helmet on; we’re huge Cubs fans," Eldredge tells The Boot. "In it, you can see that I could actually carry a tune at the young age of four. My family started to have me sing the National Anthem at family parties. I’d get real nervous, and then someone would give me a candy bar or $5, and I’d sing. My body would shake. They’d call it the man voice, because I had this older voice coming out of a kid’s body."

Eldredge was given a guitar, along with a sound system, as a child, but he didn't actually become proficient on the instrument until he moved to Nashville as an adult.

“I saw people on stage playing these songwriter nights, just them and a guitar,” he recalls. “It took me a while to finally get a hold of the guitar, but once I did, I was hooked."

Eldredge also picked up his own sound, combining all of his early influences into one voice and style that was uniquely his.

“I think being a student of singers works to my advantage, because it taught me how to phrase things," Eldredge says. "I had melodies all over the place in my head.”

Eldredge's freshman album, Bring You Back, was released in 2013 on Atlantic Nashville. The record spawned three No. 1 singles, including the platinum-selling "Don't Ya." He was named the CMA Awards New Artist of the Year in 2014, then released his sophomore album, Illinois, in September of 2015. That disc's first single, "Lose My Mind," went to No. 1, as did the album itself.

Eldredge's third studio album, a self-titled project, dropped in August of 2017. In 2019, he went (mostly) off the grid and regrouped for 2020's Sunday Drive, a record with folkier roots. While creating the album, the country star bussed his producers and his manager to his hometown of Paris.

"I showed them those Midwest values that I grew up in and still carry in my life," Eldredge explains. "And then we took that bus from there and went up to Chicago and made this record for -- lived in Chicago for weeks at a time."

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