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“I think I got booed off the stage by, like, five-year-olds.”

Brad Paisley’s had a quarter-century-long country music career highlighted by 12 studio albums, 15 headlining tours, and 21 number-one singles. However, as he recently told Kelly Clarkson on the Kelly Clarkson Show, his most daunting live event was being booked to sing for children in his hometown of Glen Dale, West Virginia.

“I got booked to sing for toddlers at the library one afternoon, and I don’t recommend that for anybody,” he remembered. “Unless you’re like Raffi or one of those people that really cater to that, there’s nothing in your arsenal that will work. That is the test of all tests on a performer.”

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Paisley had other gigs as a young performer — namely Rotary Club luncheons, Lions Club meetings, and mother-daughter banquets — that were more advantageous to his career development. After one of Paisley’s Rotary Club performances in Wheeling, West Virginia, he and his band were invited to guest for WWVA’s Jamboree USA program, where he became part of the show’s weekly lineup. For nearly the next decade, this led to him opening for acts like The Judds and George Jones.

Paisley’s 2021 does not find him touring yet, but rather promoting “Off Road,” his latest single. “It’s really about female empowerment and how women bust through roadblocks.” Paisley recently said to radio host JJ Hayes. “You can’t keep a country girl down. She is just going to go off the beaten path and do the things she needs to do to change this world and be trailblazers. I hope people relate to it.”