The last couple of years have been a bit of a whirlwind for singer/songwriter Shane Profitt. It wasn't long ago the Columbia native was working full-time for the city and playing solo music gigs at restaurants on the weekends.
Things changed after a chance meeting with country artist Chris Janson, and life hasn't been the same since. Profitt quit his city job, went on tour, got a record deal, released an EP, and saw one of his songs, "How It Oughta Be," break into the Top 15 on country radio.
"I've been very, very blessed," Profitt says. "Last year, I played over 200 shows, I've been to 48 of the 50 states, and I've even been to Canada.
His good fortune followed a lot of hard work and determination. Now 24, Profitt began playing music about six years ago.
"I was a senior in high school, and my granddad asked what I wanted for Christmas. I told him I just wanted to learn to play the guitar. So, he taught me the G, C, and D chords, and I kind of stuck with it."
Profitt was a quick study and soon had a collection of cover songs under his belt. He got his first paying gig at Joey's Cajun Restaurant, which required him to play for two hours.
"At the time, I only knew about six songs, so I sat on a Yeti cooler and played my six songs. It didn't fill two hours, so I'd sing my six songs, take a break, then start at square one again until I met the two-hour mark."
He continued learning songs and after high school, got a job with the city, and began playing at restaurants on weekends.
"Every other month, I would go play the Puckett's in Columbia, the one in Nashville, the one in Chattanooga, and the one in Pigeon Forge. And it seemed like every time I'd go back to Puckett's, they'd be like, hey, this thing has sold out for tonight. And it kind of grew from there."
He tried his hand at songwriting and discovered he had a gift for it. So, when he saw one of his favorite artists, Chris Janson, at a sushi restaurant, Profitt decided to take a chance.
"I went up to him and told him what a fan I was, that I wrote songs, and it would really mean the world to me if he would listen to some of my music. We struck up a conversation, and I ended up getting his wife's email address."
As soon as he hit the parking lot, Profitt grabbed his phone and emailed her several of his songs. Two weeks later, he got a call from Janson.
"He said I listened to those songs, and they're good," Proffit recalls. "And I told him I really appreciated that. Then he said, 'I want you to do me a favor. Put in your two-week notice; I want you to go on tour with me."
A couple of days later, Janson called again and asked if Profitt could get to the Nashville airport in 90 minutes. Janson was taking a private jet to a show and wanted Profitt to join him. Profitt made the flight, they traveled to Pennsylvania, and arrived just before the show was set to start.
"We get there," Profit recalls, "and Chris says, 'Hey man, you've got 30 minutes to go out there and wow them.'"
When Profitt pointed out he didn't have a guitar, one was provided for him.
"So, I went out there with just an acoustic guitar for 30 minutes before Chris took the stage," Profitt says. "I was the opener that night and had no idea until an hour prior."
Profitt held his own, went on tour with Janson, and within a few months got his own record deal.
"It's a Cinderella story, for sure," Profitt says with a laugh.
He's proven he can sing, entertain a crowd, and write songs with depth and substance. Songs he's released so far, like "How It Oughta Be," "Good Luck and God," and "Still Picks Up," reflect his faith, blue-collar background, and small-town values. His latest, "I Am Who I Am," shows his independent spirit.
"The thing about getting a record deal and getting even the slightest bit of success is people feel like you have to do things a certain way, dress a certain way, and say certain things. And quite honestly, I'm never going to do that. I feel like you should never apologize for who you are, so I wrote a song about it."
Profitt has much to look forward to in the year ahead. There's a new album in the works, he'll be heading out on tour with Aaron Lewis, and he has a show at Columbia State in March.
"I'm very excited about that," he says.
Despite all he's accomplished, there's something special about playing his hometown.
"Everything ties back to where you come from, and I'm very blessed to say this is where I come from."