Fancy Hagood's debut album, Southern Curiosity, is due out on Friday (April 9), but the singer-songwriter has already lived multiple musical lives to get to this point in his career.

Hagood, whose given name is Jake, is an Arkansas native who grew up singing in church and taught himself to play piano as a teenager. But as a young gay man coming of age in his small, sports- and religion-focused hometown, he was always an outsider.

Fast forward a few years, and Hagood had dropped out of college and moved to Nashville to begin pursuing a music career. He soon relocated to Los Angeles, Calif., after signing a deal and began angling his music in a more pop-focused direction. He found friends in high places, opening for pop stars such as Ariana Grande and Meghan Trainor, and charted with his single "Goodbye," but he failed to gain traction at radio and ultimately parted ways with that label in favor of returning to Music City.

Now, Hagood says, Southern Curiosity details his life story and the experiences that have led him to his unique musical identity.

“Fancy isn’t a persona — this is my life and who I am, and I want to make music that points to that truth," Hagood says. "I’m embracing who I am as a person. These songs show me, Fancy Hagood, living boldly and writing about my experiences as a queer man in the South.”

Read on to learn more about Hagood and the musical journey that led him to make Southern Curiosity

He Got His Nickname While Working at Forever 21

Hagood acquired the nickname "Fancy" shortly after coming out as gay, when he was working at a Forever 21 retail clothing store. "I had just come out of the closet. For some people, it's a gradual thing, but for me, I kicked the door down, like, rode out on a unicorn. I dyed my hair platinum blond, my nails were painted, my face was all filled with makeup, the singer explains.

At the time, rapper Drake had recently released his 2010 single "Fancy," which features the lyrics, "Oh, you fancy, huh? / Nails done, hair done, everything did." Hagood says his manager at work started to refer to him as "Fancy" in reference to the song.

"It was the first time someone was kinda poking fun at me where I felt, like, 'Oh, I am fancy,' you know what I mean? Like, that doesn't offend me at all," he remembers. As he went on to pursue a music career, the name became an emblem of his commitment to being himself.

He's Collaborated With Meghan Trainor and Ariana Grande

Back in 2015, Hagood released "Boys Like You" under the moniker Who Is Fancy, featuring vocals from pop stars Meghan Trainor and Ariana Grande. At the time, the singer was pursuing a more pop-focused career in Los Angeles; "Boys Like You" followed his viral single "Goodbye" from earlier that year.

While "Boys Like You" failed to chart and ultimately preceded his split from his label and a return to Music City, the experience of his time in the pop world helped Hagood solidify what he wanted to express in his music. "It was everyone wanting to see me win, and they were like, 'Well, maybe you can't win if you're this [type of person]," he told The Canadian Press the following year"But maybe I could, you know what I mean?"

He Co-Wrote the Title Track of Little Big Town's Nightfall Album

While his work as an artist has long been a major focus, Hagood is also a talented songwriter: He wrote the title track of Little Big Town's 2020 studio album, Nightfall, alongside the band's Karen Fairchild and co-producer Daniel Tashian. He's worked behind the scenes as a background vocalist, too, both on Lucie Silvas' "E.G.O." and Lucy Hale's "Road Between."

He's a Dog Dad!

2020 was a year of ups and downs for Hagood -- for example, in March of that year, the tornado that swept through Middle Tennessee destroyed his downtown Nashville home -- but one bright spot was that he adopted his four-legged friend Finch. When he brought home his new pup, Hagood thanked the nonprofit rescue Wags and Walks Nashville, an organization with which Dan + Shay's Dan Smyers and his wife Abby also work.

His Next Musical Chapter Is All About Freedom and Being Authentically Himself

The title track of Hagood's debut album Southern Curiosity is his mission statement, introducing listeners to who he is and where he comes from, spelling out the life path that led him to where he is today. It's no accident that his next musical chapter is so autobiographical and unabashedly honest, either: Hagood says that especially after a stint releasing music that was more shrouded in secrecy, he's going all in on being himself this time around.

"For me, 'Fancy' represents a freedom that I did not have growing up,"  he reflects. "I didn't have it in high school. I didn't have it in my early 20s. I didn't have it in my first go-around in the music industry. And I finally feel free. To me, becoming Fancy and being Fancy is all about that freedom to be myself, to express myself, to celebrate myself, and doing all of that without anyone else's permission."

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