BY NEVIN TRUAN
Throughout homecoming week, the Fort Hays State Alumni Association held ‘get to know me’ Zoom sessions with the recipients of the 2020 FHSU alumni awards. Many great success stories have emerged from Fort Hays, however, one stands out in a very unique way.
From performing with bands like Colt Ford and Florida Georgia Line to working with iconic figures such as Taylor Swift, Montgomery Gentry, Kid Rock, and Jason Aldean, Dan Weller’s situation is truly a rare occurrence for someone breaking into the music scene from a small town like Hays.
On September 29th, the public was able to sit down with Weller for a short live stream interview session as a member and recipient of the FHSU Alumni award.
The FHSU Alumni achievement award honors graduates of the university for outstanding achievement based upon meritorious service to society or the community. The award is based upon career and professional achievements, service involving community betterment and philanthropic activities, and educational achievements. It is the university’s highest recognition of its graduates.
The Zoom interview was hosted by Alumni Interim Director, Tammy Wellbrock, and Assistant Director, Charlene Nichols.
Weller is a Hays native, graduating from Fort Hays State University in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in music, and later acquiring his BBA and MBA degrees from Wichita State.
Weller is currently a studio and touring musician for the CMT, CMA, and AMA award-winning country group, Florida Georgia Line. He claims to have always had a desire for music from a young age. As he got older, Weller started pursuing music in his studies, and at one point took lessons from the late Fort Hays graduate, Mark Selby, who is accredited for writing Kenny Wayne Sheppard’s Billboard chart-topping hit single, ‘Blue on Black’.
Weller spent his early years in the 90s performing locally around the Hays area with friends and other band members he met through the FHSU Jazz Ensemble. Later, he would move on to pursue other endeavors in consulting & business marketing around Wichita, and then with the company Worldwide Office in the Dallas, Texas area.
After a few years, Weller was met with a fork in the road. With his current job in the stages of relocating to Atlanta, he was left with the decision to move or give one last Hail Mary attempt at making it in the music scene.
“We decided to give it a shot. [We] sat down and came up with a fairly rough business plan and gave it two years,” Weller said in the interview. “If after two years of working to try to make a successful music career didn’t happen, at least I’d be able to wake up in the morning and be like, you know what at least I gave it a shot.”
That decision would pay off later as Weller went on to join the group Colt Ford as they started to gain in popularity. While performing for Colt, he eventually became acquainted with the members of Florida Georgia Line, which would later turn into an audition and invite to join the group.
So, what kind of experiences has Weller had since his big breakthrough?
“Some of the more fun things we’ve done; We did some stuff with ZZ Top on some TV shows, we’ve done some shows with them live,” Weller said. “We’ve performed and actually did a recording with the Back-Street Boys, we were on tour with them and backed them. Nelly has been out, we’ve done so much with him.”
Now, while the guys in FGL have had to put their shows on hold due to the events brought on by COVID-19, they are still finding other ways to stay productive.
“Our guys are prolific songwriters and they’ve still been putting out music, and they’re just such good guys and role models on so many levels,” Weller said. “We’ve actually set up some food banks for delivery things. They’ll go out and make sure some of the people in the harder hit areas of Nashville get meals.”
Weller’s journey is certainly not a common occurrence but does act as a strong testimony to what hard work, dedication, and saying yes to opportunity can bring you in life. Even though he seems to have become quite fond of his spot on the big stage, he still holds onto his mid-western roots and remains a humble representative of the Fort Hays Tiger pride.
To view the full interview with more questions and details about Dan Weller’s life and other Fort Hays Alumni, visit the link provided below to the Fort Hays State Alumni Association Facebook page.
Dan Weller interview: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=5016624885029663
You can also stay up to date with the latest news from Florida Georgia Line by checking out their pages in the links below.
FGL Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/floridageorgialine
FGL Website: https://floridageorgialine.com/