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Country Singer and Purple Heart Recipient Scotty Hasting Reflects on Hope, Healing and the 80th Anniversary of D-Day

After being shot in Afghanistan, Army veteran Scotty Hasting picked up a guitar to find a new purpose

It’s hard to listen to Scotty Hasting and not be moved by the singer/songwriter’s rich, evocative voice and compelling songs, but learning the Purple Heart recipient’s back story makes his artistry even more poignant.

Hasting, who will join an elite group to honor the 80th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France on June 6th, is an Army veteran who was shot 10 times in Afghanistan and when unable to continue his military career, found himself embarking on a new mission in music.

Scotty Hasting with his Purple Heart medal
Scotty Hasting with his Purple Heart medal@scottyhastingmusic

“I got shot five times in the shoulder, four times in the hip and once in the thigh. I wouldn’t change a single thing about it,” Hastongs tells Woman’s World of the wounds he received April 21, 2011 that led to him receiving the Purple Heart, an honor bestowed on soldiers wounded or killed in service to our country. “It has made me into who I am and gave me a new appreciation for life. I am very blessed to just be on this earth.”

A native of the Cincinnati, Ohio/Northern Kentucky region, Scotty is signed to Nashville-based Black River Entertainment and earlier this month released his debut EP I’m America, a six-song project that is garnering praise from multiple media outlets and coveted spots on Spotify’s New Music Friday Country and Amazon Music’s Breakthrough Country.

He’s developed a reputation as a riveting live performer and in addition to headlining his own shows, has opened for Dave Grohl, Tanya Tucker, Jelly Roll, Chris Janson and others.

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Scotty Hasting's new album, I'm America
Scotty Hasting’s new EP, I’m AmericaScotty Hasting

“Music was never a dream or something I thought I would really do. For me, music was a hobby, just playing and singing with my mom and dad,” Scotty smiles. “Music was always my happy place and still is my happy place.”

Hasting first began to consider music as a career during COVID.  “At the time I was shooting archery professionally and I would travel all over the country and shoot at tournaments. Then COVID hit and the world shut down. As someone who suffers with PTSD, depression and anxiety, when it gets quiet is when the demons knock the loudest. I needed something to get out of my head. I needed that escape.”

Scotty Hasting finds a new purpose

Hasting found it when he picked up a guitar. “I had a guitar in the corner of my room and thought, ‘You know what? I’m going to learn how to play this thing. Why not? It’s there and I’ve got nothing but time. I need to get out of my head.’ So I jumped on YouTube and I started to learn how to play guitar. I had all these thoughts and emotions that I bottled up for so long and I just wanted to get them out, so that’s when I started to write songs.”

Scotty Hasting with Garth Brooks, who is the reason he fell in love with country music
Scotty Hasting with Garth Brooks, who is the reason he fell in love with country music@scottyhastingmusic

Music was a healing force for the young veteran. “The first song I learned how to play was a Toby Keith song, ‘Should’ve Been a Cowboy,’ and I knew in that moment this is what I wanted to do forever,” Scotty shares. “That sense of peace and escape that I had found in archery was magnified 100 times and so I started living for that feeling of just being in the moment. For someone who suffers from PTSD, it’s so hard to be in a moment and I live for those moments.”

Eventually, the world started opening up again after COVID and Scotty had an opportunity to perform at local open mic nights where aspiring artists shared their music. “Nashville started opening up, so I started bugging the crap out of everyone who has a stage down on Broadway. I wanted to get on stage for three or four hours at a time because for those few hours, I had complete peace. I had that escape, and it has since magnified even more because I have a little bit of a platform where now I can help other people find that and that has become such a huge purpose of mine. Not only to be able to selfishly play music for myself because that’s where my peace comes in, but also to try to help other veterans and other people who are struggling to find that little bit of peace and an escape. To me, that’s always been the most important part from the very beginning. I’ve always wanted to just help people through music.”

Music that was meant to be

It was a chance meeting with Michael Kerr, whose father Gordon Kerr heads up Black River Entertainment, that led to Scotty signing a record deal. “Michael is the son of Black River’s President/CEO and when we started talking, I shared my story and I had one song out at the time,” Scotty recalls. “He was like, ‘Man, I love your story! This song is great and I’m going to send it to Doug Johnson, who is the VP of A&R at Black River.’”

Soon after Scotty had a record deal and a talented team dedicated to helping him share his music and his unique story. “That was two years ago, and it has just blossomed ever since,” he grins. “The greatest part about Black River is that it’s a family, and they have welcomed me in from the very beginning. I couldn’t be more blessed to have such an incredible team behind me and such amazing people that truly believe in what I’m trying to do with my music. It’s been incredible.”

One of the songs from Scotty’s EP that has been garnering a lot of attention is “How Do You Choose?” He says,“It was my first single with the label and it’s a song that I wrote with CreatiVets, a non-profit that was started by a good friend of mine, Richard Casper,” he says. “They use art to combat PTSD, depression and anxiety, all of this stuff that we deal with on a daily basis being veterans. They do songwriting. They do sculpting. They have an acting class also. They do anything that deals with the arts.  I have found healing in songwriting and as soon as I found out what they do, I wanted to be a part of it.”

Performing
Scotty Hasting performing@ScottyHastingMusic

“How Do You Choose?” was inspired by a conversation Scotty Hasting had with his best friend’s mother. “My best friend, Adam Hamilton, was killed in Afghanistan and that song was the hardest song I’ve ever written,” he says.

“It is my survivor’s guilt put into words and it has since become so much more than just a song. I get messages every day saying, ‘I didn’t know how to say what I was feeling, but your song has opened me up to understand now.’ It’s really great because it can be that bridge. Someone might not know how to say how they are feeling, but they can push play, and everyone will understand. When a song does that, it becomes more than just a song.”

Scotty admits he’s struggled with survivor’s guilt and in the song, he just pours his heart out. “The chorus of that song is a conversation I have with God every day about why am I here. I was shot 10 times. The survivability of that is pretty dang close to zero and there’s people who get hurt far less than I did and they’re not here anymore,” he says solemnly. “It’s something I still struggle with every day. Why am I here? Why do I deserve to be here? There’s a part in that song that talks about, ‘Did I win or did I lose?’ By being here is that winning or is that losing?  My friend Ham being up in heaven is that winning or is that losing? How do you choose?”

Music has helped Scotty silence some of the painful voices and find solace.  “Every time I play it, it helps me heal a little bit and I love that song,” he says. “Also on the video, at the end, you see Ham’s gravestone. That video is step by step, the first time I ever went to go see his gravestone.  I put it off for a very long time.”

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Scotty says his current single, “I’m America,” embodies all the things that made him want to sign up for the Army. “This song was written by Phil O’Donnell and Wade Kirby and when it was played for me, I immediately fell in love with it. Every line of this song is why I decided to join the military,” says Scotty, who served as an Army Infantryman with the 1st Infantry Division 4th Squadron 4th Calvary.   “It’s a song that doesn’t pick a side. It’s not left or right. It’s just about us as a whole and the beauty in this country and what makes this country so incredible. It truly makes me prouder to not only have served this country, but to be from here when I sing it. I love this song. I really do.  

“At the end of the day, I just want people to enjoy it and I want them to take away the idea of ‘We are all we have and sometimes you just need to take a second and appreciate what we have.’  This country is beyond beautiful and sometimes you’ve got to just really look and find the beauty in it.”

In talking to Scotty, his warmth and sincerity are disarming. I teared up several times during the interview and gave him a big hug of gratitude afterwards for all he’s done for our country and continues to do. He’s a gifted singer and songwriter, but entertaining seems secondary to his desire to really connect with people and make a difference in their lives. “I am in charge of my social media so I’m incredibly accessible,” he says. “I want to be accessible with what I’m trying to do and with my mission. I want to help people. I want to make sure that they can reach out to me if they are struggling. That to me has always been a very important part of what we’re doing because from the very beginning, I’ve  always wanted to help others.”

Scotty Hasting remembering D-day

Scotty is excited about sharing his music from a broader platform and is looking forward to traveling to France for the 80th Anniversary of D-Day. He will perform multiple times during the week-long remembrance of the historic event. Scotty will be in the company of WWII veterans, military dignitaries, world leaders, renowned performers and actors, including some of the cast of the acclaimed series Band of Brothers, the HBO series created by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks.

“I’ve been so blessed in the fact that the music that comes from me is affecting people,” Scotty Hasting says. “My heart and soul is affecting someone and that’s all I ever want.  I want people to hear my music and I want it to touch them.  I want it to give them hope and help them, and my music is doing that, which is more than a dream come true. I now have a platform where I can help other vets and other people who are struggling and it’s been such an amazing journey.  There is definitely victory in tragedy and it has been incredible. Music really does heal.”


For more comforting stories about love shown to Veterans and Military families, keep reading…

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