The Marty Smith Podcast: How The Masters at Augusta National Impacted Charles Kelley’s Music Career

by Chris Haney

This week on The Marty Smith Podcast, we’ve got country music star Charles Kelley who opened up about his music career with Grammy Award-winning band Lady A. The lead singer and founding member of the band got his start in music as a young man growing up in Augusta, Georgia. Interestingly enough, he credits an unlikely source for affecting his music career – The Masters Tournament at Augusta National.

As soon as Kelley joined the podcast, host Marty Smith asked the musician about his connection to The Masters. Smith covered the recent PGA major tournament for ESPN and spent time with Kelley at the famous golf course. As the country singer mentioned, the whole year revolves around the four-day tournament when you live in Augusta.

For many locals in Augusta, they rent out their homes to visitors that are in town for the tourney. As a single mom, Kelley’s mother took advantage of the supplemental income each year. The funds were a much needed help for their family. In fact, one year the money his mother made from renting their home allowed her to buy Charles a brand new drum set. Previous to that he’d been playing on a makeshift drum set made of tin popcorn boxes and plastic plates. So in a way, The Masters had a profound impact on Kelley’s future as a professional musician.

“After we rented the house out [one year], she got her check and goes, ‘Get in the car.’ She bought me a set of drums and bought my brother an electric guitar and amp. Within a couple months we had started our first band. A couple years later, I think I was 14 at the time, we made our first little record. There’s so much about that golf tournament that kickstarted our career, you know?” Lady A’s Charles Kelley explained on The Marty Smith Podcast.

Charles Kelley Shares the Story of James Brown’s Manager Wanting to Sign His Band in High School

Charles Kelley continued to talk about his teenage years when he first began playing music in a band. He and his brother were serious about performing early on as teenagers. When Kelley was around 14 or 15, they formed a band called Inside Blue. As the band name implies, the group was really into the blues and they even got some recognition from a manager of a legendary soul singer.

“The Godfather of Soul,” James Brown, was born and raised in Augusta. At some point, his manager heard Inside Blue and wanted to sign them, but he wanted to turn them into a boy band with matching outfits. The teenagers weren’t interested.

“James Brown’s manager at the time even tried to sign us. But he wanted to turn us into like a boy band,” Kelley shared on the podcast. “He goes, ‘We’re going to get y’all into matching suits.’ It was like, dude, no no no. We’re kinda wanting to do more of like the Hootie & the Blowfish type of thing.”

Lady A’s Charles Kelley talks about that and much more in the newest episode of The Marty Smith Podcast. Make sure to check out their entire conversation below, or listen to the full interview on Spotify, Apple, or wherever else you listen to your favorite podcasts.