The Marty Smith Podcast: Jordan Davis Shares the Story of How He Got Discovered While Performing in Nashville

by Chris Haney
(Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images for ACM)

If you’ve ever spent any time in Nashville, it’s evident that it’s a town full of musicians dreaming as they attempt to make it in Music City. It’s a tough place to find success, and artists are often chewed up, spit out, and long forgotten. However, once in a while, true talent shines through as the town breaks its next big star. On the newest episode of The Marty Smith Podcast, country star Jordan Davis opens up about his early days in Nashville. He talks about his career path in country music and shares the story about finally getting discovered after years of barely making ends meet in Music City.

Jordan Davis was born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana before eventually attending LSU during his college years. Although he never performed while at the Baton Rouge university, he did occasionally write music. After he graduated, he didn’t have any plans of becoming a country music artist. But he did decide to move to Nashville and kept working on music as a songwriter.

For years, Davis bartended to pay his bills and would write on the side. After five years or so though, the Louisiana native started to find his footing in Music City. Thankfully, he had his uncle to warn him though that it might be a long, bumpy ride before making it in Nashville.

“I wouldn’t be where I’m at if it weren’t for my uncle telling me exactly what I told you,” Davis said on The Marty Smith Podcast. “It’s like, ‘Hey, you’re gonna move to town and it’s gonna take a little bit of time.’ If you’re thinkin’ you’re gonna move to Nashville and in 4 years you’re gonna have songs on the radio and a notebook full of guys that you can write with every day, he’s like, ‘That’s not gonna happen.'”

Jordan Davis Explains His Transition From Songwriter to Country Artist

So, Jordan Davis knew he likely wouldn’t strike gold overnight once living in Music City. It was a slow burn, but he started to make connections as the years passed. He got to know some amazing songwriters in town and kept working at his craft. Yet transitioning from a songwriter to an artist himself never crossed his mind.

As the 34-year-old describes it, he’d been in the city for almost six years and was getting desperate. As a songwriter, his meetings were starting to dry up. Publishers were rejecting his material, and that’s when a friend told Davis that he should sing them himself.

“I don’t know if it was a confidence thing where I didn’t think I could do that,” Jordan Davis explained on The Marty Smith Podcast. “Or if I didn’t think that I had the voice to do that. I don’t know what it was. But it just took that one person being like, ‘Hey. man. Quit tryna to get other people to sing these songs. You go sing ’em.’ And that was really the first domino that fell.”

The Country Star Catches His Big Break at Only His Third Show Ever Played

Like anyone else trying to make it in Nashville, sometimes you need a bit of luck on your side. And luck is exactly what Davis got to help kickstart his career as an artist. He booked a local show and was “blessed enough to have somebody in the crowd that worked at a record label.”

“Unreal, man,” host Marty Smith said, knowing how tough it is to get noticed in Nashville. “That is unbelievable that that is how it went down.”

“It’s wild, yea,” Davis admitted about the stroke of luck that led to him getting a record deal.

“Like that’s the dream,” Marty added. “When aspiring artists move to Nashville, Tennessee, and they’re naive about how all this works and what a damn ruthless town it is, they think I’m gonna go book a gig down here at Aldean’s. And I’m gonna go up there on that stage and play 74 covers and I’m gonna sing two of my original songs and [a record label executive] is gonna be sittin’ in the crowd and he’s gonna go, ‘Damn! That’s the next Eric Church right there!’ That ain’t how it works, man.”

Yet for Davis that’s exactly how it worked out. The musician only played two prior live concerts in Birmingham, Alabama. But those two concerts were confidence boosters that prepared him to play in Nashville. For his third show ever, he booked a four-song gig to play original material, and a woman who worked for Universal Music Group Nashville just happened to be in the crowd. As they say, the rest was history.

Country star Jordan Davis talks about that and so much more on the newest episode of the show. Make sure to check out their full conversation on The Marty Smith Podcast in the video above, or listen on Spotify, Apple, or wherever else you stream your favorite podcasts.