Alexander Ludwig, known for his acting roles in the Hunger Games, Vikings and more, released his full-length, debut album, Highway 99, on Aug. 26. The 16-track project continues to establish Ludwig as a promising up-and-coming act in country music, but breaking into the genre isn't something he expects to come without a challenge.

The accomplished actor-turned-singer shared with Taste of Country Nights' Evan Paul that he is aware of Nashville's "tight-knit community," and he is resolved to build a career in the genre — no matter how long it takes.

"For me to bust through that glass ceiling is not easy," he says. "If you're coming in here as an actor, you have a thing against you already. There's a perception here of, like, 'Is this guys going to come in here entitled? Is he expecting something?'"

The Canadian-born singer, who has been working in Nashville for three-plus years, further explains that he originally went to Music City to "learn what it takes to write a great country song." Ludwig says he's "not expecting anything," but he's ready and willing to spend years working on his craft.

"Whatever it takes, I'm here, and if you don't believe me now, in ten years when I'm still here, you'll know this is real," he says. "I grew up on this. I love country music, and it's a huge thing in Canada — I think a lot of people here don't know. This is the music I grew up on, so getting a chance to actually do it is insane."

His hard work has come to fruition, so far, with the release of Highway 99, which is named after a road from his childhood where he received his "country music education." The project is also inspired by Ludwig's love of '90s country and features influences from artists such as Kenny Chesney and Dierks Bentley. Most of all, however, the album finds him shedding expectations and truly being himself.

"The first thing I said when I was given this opportunity to create an album, I was like, 'We cannot chase trends. We cannot,'" he says. "I'd rather just not do it. We've got to do the country music that I love, and not just what we think is going to hit. That's not why I'm here."

Throughout in his musical journey, Ludwig has found friendship and mentorship in established country stars, including superstar Jason Aldean. The singer says he met Aldean's band while boarding a plane, and since then, Aldean has provided Ludwig with plenty of advice.

"Jason Aldean has been the greatest friend to me, and his whole band," he says. "None of this would have happened without them."

"He's the most down-to-earth, humble dude and such a good guy," Ludwig adds. "I'm just so grateful for his friendship and for the whole band. He's just given me a lot of pointers."

In addition to mentoring Ludwig, the singer says Aldean has even invited him over to his home for a pool party.

"I went down his waterslide with him. It was a blast," Ludwig jokes.

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