Who Is Greylan James? The Story Behind His Journey to Country Music

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


Greylan James // Credit: Trea Allen

Quick Facts:

Full Name – Greylan James
Birthday – 06/18/1996
Hometown – Knoxville, Tennessee
Current City – Nashville, Tennessee
Musical Influences – Kenny Chesney, The Eagles, Brad Paisley, Waylon Jennings
Label – Big Machine Label Group
Current Single – “Undermine” (As of article date – 6/5/2023)

The Beginning:

The country music genre is full of rising talent that fans need to pay attention to. Singer-songwriter, Greylan James is definitely an artist, who should be on that list. The recording artist has dedicated his entire life to becoming a country music artist, and it truly shows in his songwriting and vocals.

“I’m from Knoxville, Tennessee,” began James. “You’ll find a bunch of country music artists going back hundreds of years, so growing up there it never felt like country music and moving to Nashville and doing the thing was a pipe dream. It felt something you could actually do like anything else.” According to the singer, he knew since he was five years old that country music was his calling.

“My Papaw got me a guitar when I was five, and I played that thing until my fingers bled the night that I got it,” he shared, adding later, “I never wavered with that all through school. I told everybody that ‘I was going to be a country music artist and when I graduate I’m going to move to Nashville.’ And that’s what I did.”

Armed with a dream to play music, James also listened to a ton of different artists and genres. “It was super diverse. I loved country music obviously and my brother who’s a year younger than me was a little bit more cultured growing up, as cultured as you can be, being from Knoxville. He was always listening to pop, top 40, and rap, so I’d hear that. […] For me it was always like Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, and Keith Urban.” The singer also credits his parents for introducing him to 70s and 80s rock and his grandfather for showing him classics like Johnny Cash.

James even drew inspiration from artists like Taylor Swift, who inspired him to start writing his own songs “When everyone talked about Taylor Swift and how she wrote all her songs, I was like alright, that’s what she’s doing and she’s crushing it, so that’s what I need to do too,” shared the singer, adding later, “I was always like I’m going to be a country music artist. Kenny Chesney is from Knoxville, Tennessee. […] I wanted to play stadiums like Kenny was and that’s just what I did even when I was playing at small, little restaurants patios, I acted as if I was playing in front of ten thousand people.”

The Turning Point:

After playing gigs across his hometown and the surrounding areas and a stint on The Voice, James found himself with a decision to make. “When I turned eighteen, I was kind of at a crossroads, ‘do I go to college now [or not.]’ I never thought I’d have to or ‘do I just keep doing it,’ and I chose Nashville. […] Luckily right in the nick of time, a publisher reached out and me and my dad drove to Nashville the next day, and I signed a publishing deal and started to write songs every single day with people I just met.”

The budding singer-songwriter worked as a professional songwriter for two years, until he was fired for “not having what it takes”. While some may have felt defeated, James took the let down as a sign to work even harder. “I started listening to a bunch of the new albums that were coming out and just studied them, trying to get better at songwriting,” he shared, crediting Old Dominion’s album Meat and Candy as a lightbulb moment for him.

“It kind of clicked for me what they were doing with writing songs. […] Since then, I started writing songs and became obsessed with it and songs kept getting better and people started to listen to them and Kenny Chesney cut my song and put it on the radio.” That song was Chesney’s smash hit “Happy Does”. James later had a hand in writing Jordan Davis’ current top ten hit, “Next Thing You Know” and several other notable tracks. Soon after, James went on to secure a record deal with a major label due to his new found confidence and incredible songs.


Flash forward to today, every song James has put out has been another notch in his belt. His most recent release, “Undermine” may be his best song to date.“It’s another one from the second I wrote it that I was like “I’m going to record this myself and put it out.” That was before I knew anything about a record label,” shared the singer-songwriter. “That was just a song from a cool title I had in my phone […] I felt like I could really try to flip the meaning of the word “undermine.”

“Undermine” is a creative song that truly speaks to James’ talent as a country music artist. It also is one of the songs that led the singer to ultimately sign his record deal. “I’m proud of it. I produced it in my bedroom, and it sounds bigger than that,” he shared.

This is just the beginning for James, who shared that more music is coming really soon. The singer is currently in studio working on his next batch of songs. We are hopeful that a record is in the works for later this year. Until then, fans can catch James on tour with Old Dominion, as well as, Jordan Davis and Cole Swindell in the fall. Get all the details here. 


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Greylan James’ music 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.