Matt Westin found his voice and career direction in some truly unexpected places. He was born and raised in a blue-collar, middle class suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and ended up studying at a prestigious institution in that neck of the woods, Carnegie Mellon University, with a career in engineering on his horizon. While there, however, he began to find music, for which he had a life-long love but had never pursued, becoming a needed escape. An excellent student, he came away with multiple engineering degrees and followed the designated path into that profession. But his engineering career only lasted about six years: “I was just miserable, living in a cubicle,” Matt remembers. “Even after all these years I still have nightmares about it.”
Initially, Matt pursued his passion for acting, and ended up in Los Angeles for a brief time. Music remained more of a hobby for him. But he had already built a solid foundation for future career in music. While in university, Matt had put in serious effort building his vocal chops. His leading influences included Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash and Frank Sinatra. The following decade saw him honing that voice in Pittsburgh’s clubs and bars. The more he sang the more his desire to take his performing full-time grew.
Despite the deep impact hat emulating the Chairman of the Board and other great voices of the past had on Matt, he felt most at home in the country music fold. “I just kind of found my voice, and I fell into country because I think my voice really fit it, and I love country and the message that usually comes along with a song…it was what I naturally gravitated towards.
As joyful as music was for Matt, it turned out to be a dark time in his life that brought him to fully embrace the calling to share his gift with the wider world. In April 2016, after a bravely fought battle with leukemia, Matt’s father succumbed to complications from chemotherapy. Having the heart of a true family man, Matt’s personal devastation led to a serious struggle with the reality of his father’s death. After months of depression, Matt decided to honor his father’s memory by finally pursuing his music career, which his father had always encouraged him to do.
The result was his debut album, Legacy, released in 2018. The world-class country release was produced by Bryan Cole and was later dubbed the IMEA Country Album of the Year.
By Dan Walsh