Brett Eldredge always hoped to leave his mark on Nashville.

In the early days of his music career — when he was a college student with a publishing deal but was still waiting for the chance to record an album of his own — the Illinois native took matters into his own hands by leaving a literal mark on one of the city’s biggest labels.

When Eldredge moved to Nashville in 2006, he lived in a modest apartment where his car was broken into twice, but he had big plans. “I love thinking back to that kid, sitting in that little room, dreaming and scheming,” he says. On nights when he’d enjoy a few drinks with some buddies, Eldredge made a ritual out of relieving himself on the side of the Warner Music Group building while on the walk home.

It’s a safe bet that public urination usually leads to a citation — not a record deal — but the reverse holds true for Eldredge, who now has four hit albums with the label. There’s even a plaque on the corner of the building to prove his legacy, reading “BRETT ELDEREDGE LEFT HIS MARK HERE ON MARCH OF 2007,” which a trained eye can spot from the sidewalk.

Since his early-day antics outside of the Warner building, Eldredge continues to evolve as an artist with dynamic vocals and a commanding stage presence. Nashville has grown right along with him. Once purely viewed as a honky-tonk town, the city is all-encompassing, honoring a diverse range of musical styles that Eldredge likes to experiment with.

A fan of Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles, “The Long Way” singer embraced a jazzier side on his self-titled album, which was released in 2017. His love for the genre is best captured in his favorite place to enjoy a nightcap: Rudy’s Jazz Room, an intimate speakeasy with a distinct New Orleans feel and a gorgeous grand piano. On one recent occasion, Eldredge invited a handful of journalists to Rudy’s and performed a small, stripped-down set that included his own heartache-drenched “Castaway” and Sinatra’s timeless “The Way You Look Tonight.”

For as many venues — both big and small — that Eldredge finds himself in these days on the heels of his first headlining tour, he still gets nervous on one particular Nashville stage: The Grand Ole Opry.

“I don’t get stage fright, but for whatever reason, I get nervous at the Opry. I’ve heard that from so many artists who’ve played an arena or stadium of 30,000 people, and they’ll go play at the Opry and be like, Oh my God,” he says. “It’s just a magical place.”

Right before he made his debut on the show, Eldredge received some sage advice from legendary Opry member and co-writer Bill Anderson.

“There was a time in my career that I’d be worried about what my next song was, what my next hit was,” Eldredge says.

But Anderson told him to remember the importance of the night, saying, “This moment is what matters right here.”

Eldredge took the tip to heart. Upon taking the stage, he thought, OK, I’m really here right now. This is where I’m supposed to be in my life.

No matter where his career takes him, Nashville will always welcome him back home.  

Where do you like to grab a drink in Nashville? Clyde’s on Church is one of my favorite bars to play ping-pong and have some drinks.

Aside from the Opry, what other music venues do you like to scope out? Rudy’s Jazz Room is one of my favorite music venues. It’s a cool place. It makes me want to drink whiskey and dress up in a tux … You don’t even have to like jazz — you’re going to like this place. We need more jazz in Nashville.

Back when you lived off Eighth Avenue, where were fans likely to bump into you? 8th & Roast was always my coffee spot.

Do you have another favorite haunt in the area? I’m a health nut, and I love The Urban Juicer. I order “The Green Machine” smoothie.