Matt Kennon, Georgia native and up-and-coming country artist, is climbing the charts with his single “The Call.” Landing a spot in the Top 30, “The Call” touches on difficult life events that many people face. Kennon’s deep, raspy voice complements the seriousness of the messages he sends to his audience – whether it’s in “The Call” or other tracks off of his new EP. The son of an impoverished woman, Kennon found support from his adoptive parents and now writes about his personal struggles and thoughts. Although it may not always be easy to convey these emotions, Kennon believes that honesty is vital when it comes to his songwriting: “I don’t want to sing about anything that I haven’t been through.” With his booming voice and opinionated lyrics, he tackles the challenge of writing genuine and honesty country music.
When did you first start playing guitar and writing music?
I began playing the guitar about 8 years ago. However, it was a constant struggle for me having been a drummer for 15 years. After a meeting with James Stroud 4 years ago he asked me if I played guitar. At that very moment I knew that it was a critical tool for my success. I learned a few chords, and as of today I know a few more. Writing became a part of my life within a month of moving to Nashville. I was told that it was a necessity to my artistry and a huge part of what would give me the advantage. Meeting the best songwriters in the world and finding out they would help me showed me another side of what music was about, and it was the key element that has contributed to my expression and style of who I am. Thanks Kim Williams, Amanda Williams, Noah Gordon, Jeremy Campbell, Rob Crosby, Rich Fagan, Mark Collie, and Aaron Scherz, and everyone else that has written with me.
According to your bio on your website, you were raised in Georgia, where you found the music of natives Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt, etc. You were also exposed to music from bands like Survivor. Did Georgia artists influence you more than bands like Survivor? How did the two work together to create your sound?
I was raised on the edge of country in Georgia and that is right where my music lies…on the edge of country. I love country lyrics mixed in with powerful music that is known to be a little heavy. Take my country influences and rock influences, combined with my life experiences, and there you have what I call “country rock and roll,” or Van Waylon.
Your chance-meeting with Travis Tritt’s former manager Gary Falcon opened up so many possibilities for you, including the opportunity to be produced by Kyle Lehning – the guy who ultimately got “Turn It Around” recorded by Randy Travis. At that point, were you just looking to write, or were you wanting a solo career of your own? Are there other singles that you’ve written that have been cut by other artists?
Gary Falcon and Kyle Lehning were both what I call Good Samaritans. Neither one of those two kind gentlemen had hidden agendas. They both saved me a lot of time and heartache. I owe a huge part of where I am today to those Good Samaritans. I specifically moved to Nashville to be an artist and wanted to cut other writer’s songs due to the fact that it was an undiscovered talent in me, but both Gary and Kyle gave me confidence and guidance there as well.
I had done another album with Kyle Lehning where I co-wrote 3 of the songs.. The Randy Travis cut changed my life and built my confidence, which lead to writing 8 of the 12 songs on my brand new self-titled album (BamaJam Records), which is out May 11th. I have been writing now for 2 years under the direction of James Stroud and previously under Ash Street Music with June McHugh. June kept me from leaving town to sell motorcycles again. I’ll never forget Mama June!
So would you say that your songs are like your autobiography in the making? You sing about very difficult things that so many people go through, and many of these things you’ve experienced for yourself.
If I haven’t been through it or close to it I can’t sing or write about it honestly, at least up to this point. Maybe one day I may take a crack at writing fictional songs, but as of now there are still a lot of true stories yet to write about. Country Music to me equals the truth about life, love and God.
Was your hit single “The Call” inspired by one of your own life experiences?
I saw a lot of pain growing up. I have been as low as a man can go at one point in my life, chasing dreams and putting it all on the line. Phone calls, friends and family kept me hanging in there. Secondly, my birthmother did not want to bring me in this world. So, yes, I would say I LIVED THAT SONG, if you know what I mean. I’m doing okay for a guy who is not supposed to be here.
With the release of your EP, The Call, are you seeing success in its sales? Are there other big projects you’re currently working on, whether it be albums, tours, etc.?
All of the above. I’m amazed at the results and feedback we are getting off of my very first single “The Call.” We believe in getting on a big tour so we can reach the masses. I’m so excited for the world to hear the rest of my new album. Thanks to country radio and my support team at the label for their passion and talent. We have not only changed some lives, but we’ve saved quite a few, so I’m told.
When you’re writing, what is (are) the most important thing(s) that you keep in mind? Do you try to write about subjects that teach a lesson, or do you strictly go by what’s on your mind? How long does your writing process take?
I never know how long the process will take. It usually comes easy. I try to write what’s in my soul and to put a lesson or a testimony within it. I believe that is God’s plan for my life. I’m so called “undercover.”