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Rhett Price: Homeless violinist to YouTube sensation

Rhett Price’s cover of a Taylor Swift song on YouTube helped launch his blossoming career.

Age: 24

Hometown: Brighton by way of Greenwood, Texas

Think of: A mad violinist with roots in Texas country, a background in saxophone, and some training at Berklee College of Music to boot. Price’s epic stylings of contemporary songs have saved him from the rough days where he slept on park benches and friend’s kitchen floors, and helped him book private parties at venues like New York’s elite Core Club.

What caught our eye: Price’s cover of Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble,” played on his violin, at Boston’s South Station T stop. With Price accompanied by friend and roommate Josh Knowles, also on violin, the video premiered in April, quickly picked up traction, and exploded after the Huffington Post gave Price some love. It now has just under 1 million views.


Light-bulb moment: “I was playing a show in Texas, and at sound check I jokingly started playing ‘Kashmir’ by Led Zeppelin, and the band’s bass player started playing with me and it was so sick, it felt so awesome. Everyone in the venue started hollering. I thought, ‘If they liked it, surely they’re not the only people on earth who’ll like it.’ ”

Biggest thrill: “I played [Crude Fest] which had 20,000 people at it in my hometown, I looked out and saw all these kids from my high school and they were like ‘Dude, no way,’ and it was just a sea of people.”

Biggest surprise: “The biggest surprise was when I played my show at the Middle East actually. It wasn’t sold out but it was pretty packed. Over 100 people showed up and it was on a Monday night.”

Inspired by: “Pharrell Williams is a big one actually. I have a lot of posters in my room and one is by Pharell and it says, ‘Be so good, they can’t ignore you.’ Pharrell and I, weird comparing myself to Pharrell, but a lot of my aspirations are in line with him. You can tell by his Twitter feed and Facebook feed that he’s doing everything he can to encourage others to pursue their dreams, which is my main goal outside of being a musician.”


Aspires to: “I want to continue to write and record albums and to tour the world, hopefully internationally. I’ve been working with a graphic designer from Seattle, and I’ve got a few designs, and I want to start a clothing line beginning with my touring merch line. I’m working with a jewelry designer on a skeleton key necklace that’s custom-made that I wear. I also eventually want to open up a music venue.”

For good luck: “I do always listen to music right before I go on. It changes, but most of the time it’s my favorite band, called the Maine. I listen to them right before I go on and it kind of pumps me up. I look up to them a lot.”

What people should know: “What sets me apart? I’m a violinist with a rock band. [Laughs] Obviously that’s going to set me apart. I play pop and rock songs, and I write my own songs.”

Coming soon: Aside from plans to continue to post YouTube videos, Price said he is “going into the studio this fall and doing a Kickstarter project to kick that off later this month.”