Who Is John King? The Story Behind His Journey to Country Music

Who is John King? The singer-songwriter joined us to chat about his journey to country music. Get to know the rising star here…

The Beginning:

This week our spotlight shines on John King, an incredible singer-songwriter in country music. King grew up in a little town in Northeast Georgia, where he honed his craft as a songwriter and fell in love with music.

“There isn’t a whole lot to do there,” began King. “It was pretty much sports or music as your entertainment options.” Although he was an athlete, the artist recalls always singing in church and loving music. “My mom bought me my first guitar, when I was ten or eleven and I learned some chords.”

Growing up, King was exposed to many genres of music. “My dad was a big classic rock, hard rock guy and my mom was a country fan and the singer-songwriter fan, so it was a good blend of both worlds,” adding later, “They both always inspired me to chase after that and become so much better.” King names artists like Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt, Steve Earl, and The Allman Brothers as some early inspiration.

He continued to pursue music throughout his elementary and teen years. “I always loved music and was a lover of music first, and just a fan. I just started studying the way songs were written, the way chords worked, and the way melodies and lyrics made me feel.” King recalls seriously writing music in middle school, filling up pages and pages in his notebook. “I wrote 100s of songs when I was a kid.”

The Turning Point:

Eventually, King headed off to the University of Georgia, where he learned even more about the music industry. “I think it really clicked for me when I went off to college at the University of Georgia,” he shared. “I was taking some classes there in songwriting, I was a music business minor. […] That’s kind of where I discovered I needed to go to Nashville.”

After college, King made the move to Nashville, where he was quickly met with opportunity and a whole lot of talent.  “When I came here, I couldn’t believe the amount of talent,” shared the singer. “I was like I have to get way better, way faster,” he joked.

Since coming to Nashville, King has found his own artistry, while finding inspiration in the singer-songwriters of the world. “Those are the people I grew up heavily influenced by. You know the Eric Church’s, the Johnny Cash’s and all these people that were artists, but they were writers too.” His sound is now a fusion of all the genres he has grown to love, such as rock and country.


Flash forward to today, King just released his debut album, Always Gonna Be You. A dream come true, the record is the singer’s re-introduction to who he is as a human and as an artist. As someone who writes a lot of songs, the ten that made the cut were hand-selected and meticulously selected by the singer and his team.

“I remember that feeling of listening to album from top down, first song to last song. And for me, I wanted it to feel like that for my fans and I wanted it to flow and have a purpose and a message.” Later King added, “It really is an autobiographical record, my story. Starting in small town, Georgia, meeting my wife there in my hometown […] and now to our life with as a married couple with our baby girl. […] It really is the story of me.”

One of the songs that stands out on the brand new project is the lead single, “Try Saying Goodbye.” According to King, “That song was just one of those gifts. We knew what we wanted to say that day. It just kind of just poured out.” The song, though heartbreaking, is one that has resonated with fans from all walks of life.

“It really started the trajectory for this album,” began King. “It kind of made me like re-tune a little bit, about what I wanted to say. When I saw the way fans reacted to the song, I needed to make sure that every song that I put on this record is just full of truth and really speaks honestly.”

The record is definitely honest, vulnerable, and deep, all reasons why fans will continue to fall in love with King. There is so much more in store for the artist. Be on the lookout for more music and shows in the near future!


Fans can join our Weekly Round-Up e-newsletter here, for the latest in country music and more news and announcements about future John King releases.

To keep up with John King, follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Always Gonna Be You is available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released tunes on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.

NYCS Swag Spotlight: John King

John King

In a little mountain town in Northeast Georgia, there isn’t much to do so when our next Swag Spotlight discovered his love for music, it instantly became the most important thing to him. His father was a huge music lover, he recalls spending Saturday afternoons with vinyl records, listening to everything from AC/DC and Led Zeppelin to Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Don Williams. “There were a lot of cool influences coming into my life from an early age, I grew up loving songwriters and country music and the music and melodies from pop and rock so I do think that fed into what I do now and what my sound is,” he tells us.

He tells us about the exact moment where he started singing, all thanks to his mom who said she was “tired of listening to banging drums and instrumentals, that someone had to sing”. After those garage bands turned into touring bands around Georgia, and after finishing his degree at The University of Georgia, he went straight to Nashville, a place he’s called home for six years.

King has found success in Nashville not only as an artist but also as a songwriter, writing Randy Houser’s number one song “We Went” with Matt Rogers and Justin Wilson. “To me, being a songwriter is just as big of a part of it, I love entertaining, I love performing but I really can’t see myself doing any of that without the songwriting aspect, it’s therapeutic for me” he explains.

His latest release, one he says is his favorite song he’s ever put out, “Try Saying Goodbye” has hit a chord with fans and King is proud of that. The concept is something he relates to on a daily basis, thinking about his wife and their relationship. “we’ve been dating for 15 and married for 5 years now, so almost half of our lives,” he tells us. “When you are with somebody that long, you go through changes, you get into an argument or debate and when you step back, the fight isn’t usually aren’t as big of a deal as you make it out in the heat of the moment and the hardest thing to do is say sorry and move on and nothing to me is worth losing the person I love in my life.” The track has garnered over 3 million streams on Spotify and is connecting with fans in a special way.



Recently, King partnered with Straight Talk Wireless to interact with his followers and fans in a more intimate way, giving them a dedicated line where they can reach out and chat with the singer-songwriter. “I couldn’t think of a better way to be one on one with fans, there are have been so many amazing stories and it makes me emotional. That is the dream as a songwriter and an artist, to see it impacting people that way, it doesn’t get any better than that.” For more information on Straight Talk Wireless, head to and to get in contact with King, you can text 706-949-3181 to let him know your story about “Try Saying Goodbye”. “Country music is such a fan-centric genre, our fans are just amazing, if they invest as you as an artist, they are there for a lifetime,” he says.

This summer King is hitting the road, touring the country and is excited to not only be playing at CMAFest but also the Grand Ole Opry on June 28th. To keep up with John King be sure to follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and for all of his tour dates head to



Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here 
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

+ Follow our country music adventures on InstagramTwitter & Facebook:


What We’re Listening To: March Picks

NYCountry Swag’s “What We’re Listening To” playlist highlights the wide range of our team’s favorite songs and artists when it comes to the country music genre.  At the end of the day, we are all fans first with a passion for country music and are eager to share with you all what we’ve got on repeat each month.

Find below each of our team member’s favorite songs and why in our March picks. Then be sure to give our Spotify account a follow and listen to our favorite tracks!




Stephanie Wagner, Founder

Pick: “Forever’s Gotta Start Somewhere” – Chad Brownlee
Songwriters: Cary Barlowe, Donovan Woods, Todd Clark

This month I’m listening to Chad Brownlee’s “Forever’s Gotta Start Somewhere”. The song paints the picture of making that first move whether in a dive bar, on a train, in a crowded room, etc… the idea that for any relationship to begin, it’s got to start somewhere, anywhere first. 

“I know what you must think /Another guy tryin’ to buy your drink / Two for one on a Tuesday /
How can a good thing start this way / Well it could end up anywhere / Forever’s gotta start somewhere”

I love the idea behind these lyrics and paired with the catchy rhythm of the song, it makes it easy to sing along to and keep on repeat.”


Christina Bosch, Managing Editor 

Pick: “Ten Year Town” – Hailey Whitters
Songwriters: Brandy Clark and Hailey Whitters 

“I’m twelve years into a ten-year town”  That is the opening line of this incredible song. From the moment I heard it the day it was released, I knew it would be my pick this month.  Hailey Whitters moved to Nashville when she was just 17 years old and has been paying her dues since the day she got there. In a time when pop production has taken over the country genre, this track is simple and Whitters’ voice is delicate, almost melancholy as she explains the struggles she’s dealt with.

“Waiting tables another month, waitin’ on that break to come / all it’s ever done is break my heart”

Whether it’s a songwriter like Whitters who is waiting for that big break, just like a ton of artists in Nashville or co-writer, Brandy Clark who has been nominated for six Grammys but can’t get airplay on country radio, we are all looking to find our little place in this industry.  For me, this track can resonate with anyone waiting for validation in any career, music industry or not.

“Payin’ dues don’t pay the bills / Dreams come true, and I think mine will / lesser fools would have given up, they don’t go for broke like a dreamer does, ya gotta get back up when you get knocked down, I’m twelve years into a ten-year town, this next song could turn it all around”

I hope that I can be a small part of allowing others to hear this song and to take notice of amazing artists and songwriters striving for the spotlight.

Dylan Bestler, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Chapters” – Brett Young feat. Gavin DeGraw
Songwriters: Brett Young, Ross Copperman, and Gavin DeGraw

Like Young, I am also a huge Gavin DeGraw fan. He has always been one of my favorite artists so I was very excited to see him on Ticket to LA’s track listing.

“Chapters” is a true story about Brett Young’s life and his love for baseball growing up. Young received offers from Tampa Bay and Minnesota after high school but turned them down to play in college. However, an elbow injury ended his career which made him get into songwriting. Clearly, it worked out well for him, but his ability to turn the page and start a new chapter is what got him through that tough time in his life. Young and DeGraw explain throughout this very powerful and moving song that just because things didn’t work out the way you intended, doesn’t mean you failed; God had a plan the whole time.

“Every page you’ve turned is a lesson learned / And we all, and we all, just tryna get it right /
These are the chapters of my life.”

Nicole Bochinis, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Brand New Man” – Brooks & Dunn feat. Luke Combs
Songwriters: Don Cook, Kix Brooks, Ronnie Dunn

“Brand New Man” by Brooks & Dunn is one of my favorite country songs. I grew up listening to it with my family during BBQs in the summertime. When I heard that Luke Combs was going to be a part of a reboot for the song I couldn’t contain my excitement. I heard Combs cover this song the first time I saw him live and let me tell you, he does an awesome job and the crowd sings every word with him. Having one of your favorite artists cover a song you love is one of my favorite moments at a show. He’s such a great addition to this song and I’ve had it on repeat since it was released.


Jeremy Chua, Contributing Writer 

Pick: “Keep Abilene Beautiful” – Carlton Anderson
Songwriters: Carlton Anderson, Tom Douglas, Tony Lane

“You don’t have to be from Abilene or Texas to love this song. It’s lyrical, vocal and (traditional-leaving) instrumental perfection, evoke a very palpable sense of longing for the familial and familiar warmth we’re sometimes too far away from. And, needless to say, Carlton’s performance of this personified song coupled with his personal connection to the said city in Texas really bolsters the impact “Keep Abilene Beautiful” has on our heartstrings. Personally, I’m rooting for this to be his next single at country radio. With the standing ovation, he got at his Opry debut and the reaction this song is seeing, it could very well be a career-defining one for him— if given the chance to be heard on the radio.”


Taylor Felvey, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Sad Song” – Mike Ryan
Songwriters: Mike Ryan, Brent Anderson, and Clint Lagerberg

“San Antonio native, Mike Ryan gives a soulful take on a love song on his Album Blink You’ll Miss It.  The ballad tells the story of a love affair caught in a vicious cycle. It’s a relationship that’s headed nowhere, and will certainly end in heartbreak as the lyrics take you through the tumultuous situation.

“I watched the taxi cab take you away / I was the one left alone in the rain / I’ve drained a few bottles /
Stared a hole through my phone / I’ve come to grips with the fact that you’re gone /
And here you are standing in tears at my door / I don’t know what to tell you / I’ve heard this one before”


Molly Holmberg, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Try Saying Goodbye” – John King
Songwriters: Paul DiGiovanni, John King

“I have always loved John King’s upbeat songs from “Tonight, Tonight” to “Heat Wave” although I feel King has never got the attention he deserves. As an amazing songwriter, including Randy Houser’s “We Went”, his newest slow song “Try Saying Goodbye” hits a new chord. The song explores the difficulties of relationships and singing in the chorus, King thought sorry was going to be the hardest thing he would have to say, turns out goodbye is. The main theme of the song is to not take things for granted and be okay with admitting when you are wrong, never letting your pride get in the way.

With such a powerful message, I thought I could not be more compelled to press replay, but I was wrong. The paired music video was also done so well and certainly makes you emotional listening to the song and reflecting back on your own past relationships. Looking ahead, King has new music in the works for the coming year and I cannot be more excited to support him as an independent artist.”


Nicole Piering, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Tammy Wynette Kind of Pain” – Reba
Songwriters: Brandy Clark, Mark Narmore, and Shelley Skidmore

“In country music, there are few voices that are as instantly recognizable as Reba’s. In the weeks leading up to the release of her new album, Stronger Than the Truth, the Queen of Country has been releasing a string of new tracks, each showing a different side of the superstar. On “Tammy Wynette Kind of Pain,” co-written by the genius that is Brandy Clark, Reba sings of a cheating man, admitting that “standing by your man, well that’s a broken plan.” Lyrically, the song is absolutely brilliant, weaving in and referencing various Wynette songs to tell the tale of a broken heart. However, it’s Reba’s delivery that makes the song a true masterpiece, as you can absolutely hear the sorrowful ache in her voice. Knowing that Reba went through her own divorce a few years ago, it’s hard not to wonder if she drew upon her own heartache when recording the song. Either way, it’s a powerful performance that once again reestablishes her as the undisputed Queen of the genre.”


Olivia Reese, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Gone West” – Gone West
Songwriters: Colbie Caillat, Danelle Reeves, Jason Reeves, Justin Kawika Young

“I’ve absolutely loved the message in “Gone West” by Gone West. Although it can be difficult to leave what you’ve always known the adventure can be worth risking it all, “Sailin’ off to search the islands / Gone west for somethin’ new.”

Additionally, the harmonies with folk undertones are what initially drew me to the song as I have a proclivity for loving harmony bands. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Gone West.”


Nicole Sellati, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Give Up The Ghost” – Lauren Jenkins
Songwriters: Emily Shackleton and Lauren Jenkins 

“From the moment I first heard Lauren Jenkins’ song “Give Up The Ghost” off her soon to be released debut album, No Saint, I instantly fell in love with it. From the very first listen I knew this was going to be one of my go-to songs to sing at the top of my lungs while blasting in my car. She combines the essence of rock and country into this song creating the ultimate jam, while the lyrics tell a story about a former flame causing a disruption in a present relationship.

“I know I could make you happy / Baby, if you’d only let me / But two of us is one too many / Open the door and set her free / Give up the ghost, hold onto me”

It’s my favorite song released from the album so far and I can’t wait for No Saint to come out this Friday!”

Danielle Tornatore, Contributing Writer

Pick: “To Hell and Back” – Maren Morris
Songwriters: Maren Morris, Jessie Jo Dillon, Laura Veltz

“I’ve had Maren Morris’ new album GIRL on repeat all month long and I absolutely love every single song, but this one sticks out to me as being the most vulnerable track on the record. The story told in this one is so beautiful. It’s about a partner’s willingness to love you fully and freely and I just love everything about it.”

“You didn’t save me / You didn’t think I needed saving / You didn’t change me/
You didn’t think I needed changing / My wings are frayed and what’s left of my halo’s black /
Lucky for me, your kind of heaven’s been to hell and back”


Shanna Vitaliano, Contributing Writer

Pick: “Ol Muddy River” – Dee White
Songwriters: Dee White

“This month, I have Dee White’s “Ol’ Muddy River” on repeat. I heard White and his band perform last year when opening for Ashley McBryde and I was hooked on this song ever since he sang it live.  “Ol Muddy River” is a classic vintage country song with a catchy guitar twang and fiddle.  White singlehandedly penned “Ol’ Muddy River’ and tells a story about going to a river that brings him peace and tranquility.  He sings about his admiration for a place where he can go to escape problems with lyrics:

“All my life’s been wild like the river, so he and I really get along just fine /
Everything’s easy at the Ol’ Muddy River / You know that’s where I like to spend all of my time”

When I listen to “Ol’ Muddy River,” I can easily picture myself fishing and not worrying about a thing!  White released his debut album Southern Gentleman on March 1st, and a week later he made his debut at The Grand Ole Opry.  I am so excited to see what the rest of the year has in store for him!”


Erica Zisman, Contributing Writer

Pick: “A Song For Everything” – Maren Morris
Songwriters: Jimmy Robbins, Laura Veltz, Maren Morris

“My March song pick came super easy this month.  The second I heard Maren Morris’ sophomore album GIRL, I instantly fell in love with the nostalgic ballad “A Song for Everything.” It is everything I never knew I always needed in a song. The song is essentially an ode to music for always being there for us, as we go through good and bad experiences in life.

When I was looking for the words / Somebody said it first like they knew me / They were singing right to me /
One danced you through love / One rocked you through lonely / Mixtaped your heartbreak and made you feel holy / For the hits and the misses / For the fire and rain / Close your eyes and listen /
‘Cause there’s a song for everything, yeah / There’s a song for everything / There’s a song for everything”

Ironically, I’m sure that this song will be one of those memorable tracks that I attach to future experiences for a long time coming. Thank you to Maren Morris and her co-writers for penning this monumental song.”

Listen to our picks on our “What We’re Listening To” playlist on Spotify and be sure to give it a follow, so you can catch our monthly updates.


Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

+ Follow our country music adventures on InstagramTwitter & Facebook:

John King Tackles Pride And An Aching “Goodbye” In Impressive Single

John King Try Saying Goodbye

Goodbye is a tough lesson to learn, and John King’s latest release doesn’t hold back in teaching us what it truly does. His first release this year, “Try Saying Goodbye” is already gaining unprecedented attention and praises from the country music community. Just less than a month into its release, the song has garnered almost half a million on-demand streams and has seen unwavering support by all of the major streaming platforms. Spotify has also included it in their New Boots, Wild Country, Nashville Stripped and New Music Nashville playlists, and Apple Music included “Trying Saying Goodbye,” in their Best of the Week, that featured only three country artists, Breaking Country and Broken Down Country lists. It’s also on Amazon’s Introducing Country and Pandora’s Country Now playlists.

This mid-tempo ballad is a breakup, heartbreak and aching song that will compel you to hit the replay button after just one listen. Everyone has been through a heartbreak, a “goodbye” moment of some sort, where no number of apologies can remedy or rewind the situation. The lingering regret is what holds the protagonist captive in this song as he relives the goodbye that he never wanted nor expected.

“Hey, nobody said love was easy / And I know it can be kinda hard to swallow your pride / You thought “sorry” was the hardest word you are ever gonna have to say to her in your whole life?  / Try sayin’ goodbye, try sayin’ goodbye.”

Penned by Jamie Paulin, Paul DiGiovanni and King himself, this song gives listeners a reality check too. Would it be better to “swallow your pride” and apologize for the hurt caused, or “saying goodbye?” The ultimatum is given in the bridge, as King sings and asks rhetorically, “You think you’re tough?  / Try standin’ in the dust while the woman you love puts you in the rearview and drives away.”

While apologizing is the obvious better choice, the music video portrays clearly what letting the relationship hurt linger might lead to an agonizing and heart-wrenching goodbye that leaves the protagonist wishing he could turn back the clock.

On the music video, King shared with, “This is hands down the best video I’ve ever been a part of. Jeff Johnson directed it and did such an amazing job of bringing the raw emotion from the song into the video. I remember watching the actors perform the scenes live and getting emotional because it was SO believable. I feel like the song has a message that needs to be heard. The video just makes the emotion even more palpable.”

With the support of Narvel Blackstock and his team at powerhouse management company Starstruck Entertainment (Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton, Hunter Hayes), the sky’s the limit to see where this undeniable hit of a song will take King. Our guess is he won’t be an independent artist for long, and we’re excited to watch his growing success.

Follow John King on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to keep up with new music, and tour dates.



Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here 
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

+ Follow our country music adventures on InstagramTwitter & Facebook: