Thomas Rhett’s Mom Initially Said ‘No’ When He Dropped Out of College

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Thomas Rhett always dreamed of becoming a songwriter. However, what he didn’t know was how he was going to tell his mom that he was going to drop out of college to make that dream come true.


“There was that dreaded day where he came home and said, ‘Mom, you need to sit down,'” explains the country star’s mother Paige Lankford in an exclusive clip from the new podcast Got It from My Momma, which launches on Nov. 29. “I sat down, and he said, ‘I’m going to drop out of school.’ He was a junior. He said, ‘I want to drop out of school and sign this writing deal.’ And I was like, ‘No, no, no.'”


Country music fans know that eventually, those nos turned into yeses, as Thomas Rhett is now considered one of the preeminent male superstars in the genre with 20 multi-platinum and gold-certified No. 1 hits, 12 billion streams and a string of songs including “Die a Happy Man,” Look What God Gave Her” and his latest chart-topper “Country Again.” But back in 2009, it was a bit of a different story for Thomas Rhett.


“I’m like, ‘No, you need to finish school,'” Thomas Rhett’s mother recalls during the interview with veteran television host, producer, and host of Got It From My Momma Jennifer Vickery Smith — who also happens to be the mother of fellow country music artist Conner Smith. “He was only 19 or 20 years old. Just finish school and then do it. It’ll still be there.”


Paige Lankford on Got It from My Momma.
Jennifer Vickery Smith/YouTube

Of course, Lankford speaks from experience, as she watched as her former husband Rhett Akins made decisions regarding his own country music career when their son was young. Nevertheless, it wasn’t easy to convince her son to be patient when it came to making his dreams come true.


“He said, ‘I don’t want to be in school,'” remembers Lankford, who serves as Vickery Smith’s very first guest on her new podcast. “‘This is what I want to do.’ I tried a few more times and then I did go and sit across from the guy who had signed him to the writing deal. And I said, ‘You know, how would you feel if your child was dropping out of school to go be a songwriter?'”


Got It from My Momma.
Courtesy Jennifer Vickery Smith

Certainly, it would be a valid concern for any mother, even the mother of a talent like Thomas Rhett. And it’s these sorts of concerns that will be discussed on Got It from My Momma, a podcast series in which Smith will interview the mothers of some of country music’s biggest stars. Hosted from her Brentwood, Tennessee home, season one of the biweekly podcast will include in-depth interviews with Luke Bryan‘s mother LeClair Bryan, Jessie James Decker‘s mom Karen Parker, Lauren Alaina‘s mother Kristy White, Parker McCollum‘s mom Stacey Yancey and Jonas Brothers matriarch Denise Jonas.


“I am beyond excited to help tell the stories of an entertainer’s journey from the perspective only a mother can share,” shares Vickery Smith. “These conversations are fun, heartwarming, and full of never-before-heard stories and incredible parenting advice any mom can relate to. We all got a little something from our momma, and listeners will get to see a side of their favorite entertainer they haven’t before!”


Conner Smith and Jennifer Vickery Smith.
Courtesy Jennifer Vickery Smith

Conner Smith has long spoken of the memories of his mom working as a journalist when he was young. “I would just sit on the floor in her office and study how the songwriters were talking and how they were writing these country songs,” Smith told PEOPLE last year. “But most of all, I listened to the way they told their stories.”


Like mother, like son.

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