For most high-school seniors, the approach of summer signals the end of one life chapter and the start of another. The turning of that page is no different for singer-songwriter David Richt, who this spring graduated from Prince Avenue Christian School and this fall will enroll at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.
But David isn’t just any teen. The second son of Mark and Katharyn Richt has grown up in a world where dad is one of the best-known figures within the behemoth that is modern-day college football. The coach’s notoriety has opened doors and minds for his 18-year-old son, who knows he’s got to do the heavy lifting from here on out to make a career in music.
So far, so good.
Earlier this year, David released his first album of contemporary Christian tunes, “Everybody Matters,” and has benefited greatly from the mentoring of vocal coach Jan Smith, whose former protégés include Justin Bieber, Usher and the Band Perry; Third Day guitarist Mark Lee, who co-produced portions of David’s album; and, Nashville songstress Tyler Hayes, who has written hits for Little Big Town, Bebe Winans and Matchbox 20 singer Rob Thomas.
David admits he wasn’t sure in the beginning that people saw anything other than “Coach Richt’s son,” but he’s becoming more comfortable in every phase of his music, including the quasi-celebrity part.
“At first, I had the attitude of ‘they don’t like me for me,’ but I soon realized that was just kinda dumb,” said David, who grew up learning music on his great-grandmother’s ancient Steinway baby grand piano. “God’s going to open the doors and if he uses my dad’s popularity to open the door for me to sing somewhere, it would be selfish of me not to go and sing if I get the opportunity.”
‘The next stage in life’
Suffice to say, Mark and Katharyn are pleased with the steps David is taking, although Mark admits it’s going to be a little quieter at home with their second-oldest off at college.
“We’re proud of David and we think he’s done very well at school and he’s found his passion,” said Mark, who this fall begins his 14th season as the leader of Bulldog Nation. “It’s fun to watch a guy find something he feels like he was meant to do and to do it unto the Lord.
“We’re going to miss him because he’s so much fun and a positive guy, so it’s going to be tough in that way, but we’re proud to see him moving to the next stage in life.”
David’s senior year at Prince Avenue has included the release of his first album, a chance to perform at a host of churches and events, and several opportunities to play his songs before crowds of thousands.
“AtlantaFest last June was my first ginormously big event,” David says of the annual Christian music festival. “There were about 5,000 people there and that’s at least 15 times more people than I’d ever played in front of before. I was very nervous, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. “
In October, David was invited to sing at country star Luke Bryan’s “Farm Tour 2012” concert at Tucker Plantation in Colbert, an event with a crowd easily dwarfing that of AtlantaFest.
“There were 14,000 people and I couldn’t even see all the way to the back,” he said. “It was nerve-wracking, but at the same time it was so much fun.”
The cult of ‘Dawg Bite’
In collaboration with country rapper Colt Ford, David recently appeared in the video “Dawg Bite,” which made its debut during the annual G-Day Game at Sanford Stadium. Besides containing highlight footage of the Bulldogs’ 2012 season, “Dawg Bite” also features a cameo appearance by his father.
“My wife told me I had to do it, pretty much,” Mark quips. “No really, I’ll do anything I can do to help David, and I think (the video) was fun and was pretty good for Georgia, too. It’s a fun song, a fire-‘em-up Georgia Bulldogs song. I think David really enjoyed it, but I don’t think it’s necessarily the type of song he’s going to pursue for his career. But it was an opportunity to get with Colt Ford and the folks who produced that thing, and it was definitely worth his time to do it.”
While Georgia football fans have embraced “Dawg Bite,” not everyone is enamored with the video, with USA Today going so far as to call it, “the worst video you will ever see.” David takes the negative reactions in stride and points to a lesson his father shared with him about the cult of personality.
“I’ve seen things on Twitter and other places out there,” David says. “I read the one about ‘the worst video ever’ and there was someone that said it was a disgrace to UGA. Maybe it is terrible, I don’t know, but it doesn’t really matter. I know it was so much fun to do, and people can say what they want. Hopefully, more people will like it than not.
“My dad always tells me that it’s just a small percentage that wants to be negative, and he says to remember that people really aren’t mad at Mark Richt. They’re mad at the head coach. … People may have thought it was the most terrible video ever, but it was my first video. Music is what I do. Who I am is David Richt.”
David plans to study in Belmont’s music business program and said he looks forward to playing out as much as he can in Music City.
“I’ve been to Nashville a few times,” he says. “We did three songs (from the album) in Nashville. I’ve also had some writing dates up there. It’s such a cool town. It’s small, but inviting and a lot of people have been really nice to me. And there’s a ton of music everywhere, so that’s great.”