With a style that bridges contemporary country and Americana but dips into rock, blues, and classic singer/songwriter fare, Matt Stell began releasing music in the early 2010s after teaching himself guitar while in college. He had a breakthrough with the streaming hit "Prayed for You" in 2018.
Raised mostly in Center Ridge, Arkansas, with some time spent in Central Florida, Matt Stell grew up listening to a mix of classic country, country-rock, blues-rock, and rap while making a name for himself in basketball. (His high school AAU team once claimed victory over LeBron James.) He went on to play college basketball at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri, where he started playing guitar between school and team obligations. As soon as he could play Barre chords, he began writing songs and performing at a local bar. Music quickly became a passion, though he finished a master's degree in communications at the University of Arkansas, did mission trips to Haiti, and considered medical school before deciding to pursue it as a vocation.
Stell released the album A River Through It via 124 Records in 2013, following it with the single "Country Love Song" in 2015. In the meantime, he opened shows for headliners including Luke Bryan and Eric Church. An offer from Wide Open Music in Nashville, Tennessee led to the release of the single "Prayed for You" and the EP Last of the Best in 2018. "Prayed for You" went viral, amassing over ten million streams across platforms before the end of the year. ~ Marcy Donelson