Fancy bios with loads of accolades and lists of accomplishments are cool and all, but that’s what google and Wikipedia are for, so here I’m just gonna tell y’all a little about me personally, and about a few of the folks and things that got me here!
I grew up in a rural East Tennessee town called Rocky Top in the beautiful foothills of the Smoky Mountains. I’m the 4th child of 19 biological siblings. A few of my biggest passions are music, (obviously), acting, anything cowboy and country, my horse Amiga, and my dog (and best friend) Duke.
My childhood was a pretty simple life: hard work in the family tree business, church every Sunday, a load of farm chores, a summertime lawn company I started on the side to make a little money, and most of my free time spent hunting, fishing, heading to the ranch for some trail riding, or sitting around with family and friends singing and playing music.
Although we may have been living “week to week” from the monetary perspective, we were world-class rich in the things that mattered most: big love, strong family relationships, faith in Jesus, and a very fulfilled life.
Music was a huge part of childhood right from the beginning. I started piano lessons at 7, picked up a mandolin at 9, and added guitar at 11, as well as a few other instruments along the way. Bluegrass, classic gospel, clean country, and a host of the old crooners such as Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Roy Rogers influenced my musical background in a major way. I remember hearing songs like Tim McGraw’s “If You’re Reading This” or Merle Haggard’s “You’ve Got To Stand For Something” or Dean Martin’s “My Rifle, My Pony, and Me,” and being moved so by the melodies and stories that could just reach into my heart and take my mind some place else. Those classic gospel songs of faith and hope, along with those country tunes about life, hard work, and freedom are what helped to mold my current writing style, my mentality, and my vision!
As a young teenager, no dream seemed more fascinating to me than writing songs about things that meant the most to me, and thinking they someday might impact someone else, just like so many tunes had touched me! For me, music wasn’t necessarily an escape as it is for some folks, but rather, an expounding of the life moments I was already experiencing, and something to inspire my life dreams further.
When I was 17, I met Grammy award winning artist and talented producer, Andy Leftwich, and that’s when I decided to go to Nashville and give things a shot. I started working on my first project, a 12-song album titled by my first original song “Freedom Sure Ain’t Free.”
Although I was a complete novice to the industry, Andy played a huge role in taking me under his wing and helping to guide me through those first stages of development as an artist. If I were to try to list all the folks who have since come alongside and have guided me in development, writing, and production, it would take pages, but each of you know who you are, and I am forever grateful to you for your belief in me as an artist.
They say Nashville is a ten year town, but I already feel blessed beyond measure to have worked with some of my musical heroes and inspirations. Yes, each goal checked off the list still feels like a dream (and I’ve still got a long checklist to continue), but the most meaningful thing to me will always be hearing each of your stories and how you’ve been able to connect to a specific song. I enjoy hearing the different ways they’ve impacted your life, or what they’ve made you feel- whether it’s a love song that struck a chord, a heartbreak that you were helped through, a Gospel song that elevated your faith, or a good old roll-the-windows-down-and-crank-it-up summertime jam, those relatable moments that you experience are what really mean the most to me.
If I could say just a few words to 15 year-old me, whose only goal was to write a song and then hear it on the radio, as well as to YOU reading this note, it’d simply be this- Whatever your dream is, I know you can reach it! Keep believing in yourself, working hard, doing your best, staying true to yourself, and soon you’ll catch yourself looking back in amazement at the doors God has opened.
So for now, lets all keep riding this roller coaster, and if in some way, a lyric or melody or video of mine inspires you even in the smallest way to keep pursuing YOUR dream, then mine has been worth it a thousand times over!
Cheers to the future, it’s bright!
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