Gary LeVox has always wanted to release his own gospel project, and on Friday, May 21, that dream came true with the release of his EP, One on One. "I wanted to forever," he told PopCulture.com of making the project, explaining that as a member of massively successful country trio Rascal Flatts, "we just didn't have time."
"And then the pandemic just shut the world down," he said. "So it was like I had all the time in the world to do it. And I was like, 'You know what?' And I think I needed to do it for myself. I think I needed the medicine. And so, it was a great distraction from everything that was going on in the world." The singer added that he "can't wait for people to hear it. And hopefully, they get a breath of fresh air after they listen to it and they're like, 'Ah, okay, life's going to be all right.'"
The EP's title comes from LeVox's wife, who suggested the phrase as one with a dual meaning. "She was like, 'You know what? You should call it One on One, so it's like you doing your first gospel record. So that's between you and God, and then between you and the fans. And it's the first time you've ever done a solo record. So it's like one-on-one with him and just one-on-one with you on the fans,'" LeVox recalled. "So One on One stuck, and there it is."
One on One's five songs have a similar slick sound to the Rascal Flatts music fans know and love, but LeVox made a few tweaks to make the EP all his own, including using new musicians, new co-writers, a new producer in Tim McVeigh and even a new microphone. "Without [Rascal Flatts bandmates] Jay [DeMarcus] and Joe Don [Rooney] on there and using different background singers... It's just new," he said. "It was like a new season."
LeVox admitted that "it was weird" to make a project without his bandmates, "but it was also fantastic to do something new that you hadn't done in over two decades." Instead of DeMarcus and Rooney, LeVox found new collaborators in Christian band MercyMe, gospel singer Jonathan McReynolds, country newcomer BRELAND and LeVox's daughter, Brittany, all of whom are featured on One on One.
"It all just kind of worked out," he explained of lining up his collaborators. "I mean, it was the easiest project that I've ever done. I mean, really. I think when God has his hand in it, it makes it that easy, really."
The only song that doesn't include a guest appearance is EP closer "The Distance," an inspirational message about persevering through challenges by leaning on God. "There are so many questions on the pandemic and vaccines and how many people were dying, and it's just a nightmare," LeVox reflected of writing the song. "And so I was just like, 'This is too big for me. But I know if I give it to God, I know I can finish.' There's going to be all these cracks and detours in life and speed bumps. And a lot of people are losing hope. And so that kind of felt right."
Ultimately, the Ohio native hopes that One on One can be a bright spot for fans in a difficult time. "Hopefully, that's the take that everybody has on it, that it's fun and uplifting," he said. "We've got enough stress in the world, enough craziness. So hopefully this will bring some peace." You can stream One on One here.