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Singer-songwriter Kip Moore combines a raw and rustic voice with compelling lyrics of honesty to create a unique sound that’s simultaneously hypnotic and edgy. His voice is weathered by life’s detours and disappointments and strengthened by his dreams and determination. His music is infused with relentless intensity, both of passion and frustration.
The boy who grew up daydreaming about life outside of the small town of Tifton, Ga., became a man who has been continually inspired by Bruce Springsteen and Kris Kristofferson to paint vivid portraits with his lyrics.
“I am not drawn to the fairytale kind of love,” says Kip, who had a hand in writing every song on his debut album. “I am drawn to the real-life experiences between a woman and a man. I try to sing about the way it is, but yet at the same time, what you can hope for between a couple. I don’t intend to paint of picture of what it’s really not.”
His music powerfully captures some of the contradictions that he grapples with personally. Although he’s from a large family and enjoys musical collaborations and performing onstage, he’s an introvert who is often more comfortable being alone. “There’s a combativeness to the music too, a fight within,” he says. “With ‘Faith When I Fall,’ I know how bad I need that spiritual realm, but yet I find myself on this other end a lot of times.”
Despite its edge, his music remains desperately optimistic. “I am hoping for what I have yet to become,” he says. “I feel like it’s hopeful for what I’ve yet reached, how I look forward to feeling, but I haven’t gotten there yet.
“I have truly lived my music to a sense, even the milestones I haven’t reached yet,” he says. “I have been in those moments. I’ve been at those crossroads with a girl: ‘Are we going to take that next step?’ I look forward to taking that next step, but I haven’t wanted to yet. I look forward to being ready for that.”
He was born in Tifton, near the Florida line, and was one of six children, the youngest boy who had three younger sisters. “You had to make your own fun, for sure,” he says of Tifton. “I had a lot of time for daydreaming. It was a great town, but I dreamed about getting out. I do enjoy going back now.”
His father was a golf pro and his mother was a painter who used anything handy for a canvas, whether it was cake plates or baby crates. She also taught piano and played the church organ. “I can remember sleeping in the pews,” he recalls. “She would bring us blankets and give us a coloring book and we’d sit there while she played.”
Weekends were often spent driving to the beach with his father for fishing expeditions. “He would play a lot of Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, Bob Seger, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen,” he says. “As early as I can remember, I always gravitated toward lyrics. Even when I hadn’t lived enough to understand then, they still shaped me. “
During high school, he secretly began playing his brother’s guitar because he was intimidated by the talent of his mother and older brother. “I would play when nobody was around, just figuring out stuff, watching his hands and trying to do the same thing.”
He played point guard for Wallace State’s basketball team and also played on its golf team in Hanceville, Ala., for two years and then transferred to Valdolsta State University on a golf scholarship. He wrote songs daily and joined a band that performed throughout the South, providing him with all of his income. “I was one of those kinds who didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life,” he says. “I didn’t know music was an option. Maybe it was one of those things where I didn’t quite believe in myself enough.”
Although he devoted every free moment to music during college, his parents still didn’t know about his musical activities. “They were all shocked when they found out about it because they didn’t know I could sing or play,” he says.
After graduation and a short stint as a bartender on St. Simon’s Island, he moved to Hawaii on a whim with just a backpack, a surfboard and a friend. They slept on an airport bench the first night and then lucked into a hut that was $50 a month. They would walk or hitchhike the mile to the beach daily. After six months of this tropical paradise, Kip thought he had found his permanent home until his friend encouraged him to pursue songwriting as a living.
“I didn’t know a whole lot about the world of songwriting,” he says. “I just did it for my own enjoyment. We talked about Nashville and I ended up saying, ‘I’m going to give it a shot.’ I flew back home and told my folks. They thought I was crazy. Now they’ll say different, that they knew all along.”
He drove to Nashville on Jan. 1, 2004 in an old black Nissan truck that contained one bag and his guitar. He immersed himself in the songwriting community, observing songwriters’ rounds for two years and honing his craft before gaining the confidence to join in. After four years of performing locally, he caught the attention of Creative Artist Agency’s Mark Dennis, who called Universal Music Group Nashville’s Joe Fisher. Not only did Joe’s encounter lead to his record deal with MCA Nashville, but it also brought about his introduction to songwriter Brett James, who produced Kip’s debut album.
“Brett gave me the freedom to find who I was as an artist, the freedom for writing a different kind of thing, a different kind of melody and lyric,” he says. “He gave me room to grow.”
He also found important relationships with songwriters Dan Couch, Scott Steppakoff, Westin Davis and Kiefer Thompson, two of whom didn’t have publishing deals when he began writing with them. “There was definitely a special thing when we got in the room together,” Kip says. “I got offers to write with a lot of the bigger guns in town, but I enjoyed what I was doing with them. They were open to my ideas of being different.”
And different his debut project is, as evidenced by the album’s first single, “Mary Was the Marrying Kind,” the story of the one who got away. The dreamy and spell-binding song is the true story of one of Kip’s friends, who returned to his hometown after about six years and saw the once tall, lanky girl who had since come into her own and become a model.
“It’s the story of what every man in this world goes through at some point,” he says. “It’s the story of the one that got away that you should have paid attention to. Every town, every city, everybody knows one. Every girl believes they are Mary.”
The anthemic “Drive Me Crazy” is the story of two troubled teens who find a safe harbor in each other, if only for a few fleeting moments. “They are the getaway car for each other from everyday life,” he says. “When they’re together, what they live in is in the rear-view mirror and it’s just one big infatuation love story that lasts for a very short time.
With its irresistible bass line and drums, “Up All Night” is about continuing to live life to its fullest. “’Up All Night’ is the story of not wanting to give into your age and how life is supposed to be lived once you reach a certain age,” he says.
When Kip plays shows, he’s often asked for advice by aspiring songwriters. “Everybody’s experience is different, but I do believe it has to be the only thing,” he says. “I don’t think it can be a gray line. Either you want it and there’s nothing else or it’s not going to happen.”
For instance, Kip was offered a sales position with an enticing salary, but it required working six days a week, leaving no time for creating music. “You come to the crossroads: do you really want this? Are you willing to sacrifice everything, including relationships? I can’t tell you how many relationships have been doomed from the get-go because of this.
“It only took me a few minutes to decline it. It’s such a risk and it’s an alone feeling – you feel like you’re on an island by yourself – but it’s worth every single minute. Had I taken that job, I wouldn’t be sitting here today.”
A Native of Shreveport, Louisiana, Jordan Davis was surrounded by music from a young age as both of his parents played instruments and he sang in his church choir. The middle of three children, he learned to play guitar as an early teenager before he left home to attend LSU where he graduated with a degree in resource conservation. Jordan’s passion for music and songwriting eventually compelled him to move to Nashville in the summer of 2012. In 2015 he signed with ole for publishing followed by a record deal with Universal Music Group a year later. Jordan has been touring non-stop the past year and has opened for Chase Rice, Randy Rogers Band, The Cadillac Three, David Nail and more. He is currently in the studio working on his debut album.
Jillian Jacqueline’s career is the antithesis of an overnight success, but her achievements have been abundant. From co-starring in a Broadway show with Kenny Rogers at age 9 and touring the US with him for 5 years, to forming a group with her three sisters at age 10 and playing New York City clubs as a family band, to then reaching the top 50 on Billboard charts with a trio song with Billy Dean and Suzy Bogguss at age 13, Jacqueline had her fair share of experience in the music business before she even entered high school.
After moving to Nashville shortly after graduating college in Philadelphia, she was introduced to pop legend Richard Marx who produced a 5 song EP for Jacqueline. During that time she collaborated with Vince Gill on her original song “Overdue” and co-penned Vince’s latest single “Take Me Down” (off his 2016 album Down To My Last Habit) which featured Little Big Town.
After signing a publishing deal with Downtown Publishing in 2014, Jacqueline released an EP of songs which garnered her critical attention as a singer/songwriter in Nashville, eventually leading her to inking a deal with Big Loud Records in the fall of 2016.
Since then she’s released her first collection of songs as a signed artist, titled Side A, reached the Spotify US Top 50 Viral charts and garnered over 20 million streams, opened for artists as diverse as Billy Currington, Dwight Yoakam, Ryan Adams and Thomas Rhett, and is about to embark on a spring tour with Brett Eldredge.
She won the ASCAP Abe Olman Scholarship in 2015, was named one of Rolling Stones Country Artists to Watch, is a VEVO dscvr artist of 2018, made her late night television debut on Seth Meyers in January, was recently nominated as AIMP Rising Artist/Writer of the Year, and was featured in the March issue of Billboard as their monthly Chartbreaker immediately following her first radio single “Reasons” being #2 most added in the country. Her first full length album is in the works with her longtime collaborator and producer Tofer Brown.