“I couldn’t have asked for a better year,” says JD Shelburne, whose 2021 was the kind of launching pad any artist would envy.

In 2021 alone, he has opened for ZZ Top, entered the iTunes Country Top Ten, drawn thousands of fans to a hometown show that made national news, and resumed one of music’s busiest tour schedules. Then, to top it all off, he has released his best album to date, Straight From Kentucky, a project People called “an all-encompassing look into the heart and soul of the kid that grew up on a tobacco farm loving country music.”

It’s a year that has turned him from regional powerhouse to one of music’s fastest-rising national stars, an explosion of popularity with its roots in the uncertainties of 2020.

“I’m so glad I was able to use 2020 to regroup, to engage almost daily with my fans online, and to write and record music I’m really proud of,” says the native of Taylorsville, Kentucky. “That let us hit 2021 full-tilt.”

Full-tilt describes JD’s approach to everything. He can rock a crowd like few others can, a skill he’s honed with a 200-plus-shows-a-year work ethic that earned him a mention in Billboard. Then, he can turn around and tear at your heartstrings with a ballad that cuts to the core of life and love. Both sides are represented on Straight From Kentucky. Produced by Phil O’Donnell, JD’s latest sums up as never before this blue-collar success story, proud of his roots, connected to his audience, and making the most compelling music of his career.

“This is probably the best collection of songs I’ve ever released,” he says. “There is something about Phil’s approach to music and songwriting that connects with me, and he helped me dive deep and find my authentic sound.” That sound combines infectious energy and a distinctive, always believable voice, and this album, produced by a man known for his work with the likes of Craig Morgan and Chris Janson and for writing #1’s for George Strait and Montgomery Gentry, more than captures the magic.

Straight From Kentucky is a series of true-to-life vignettes dealing with the quest for release, romance, and redemption. Its cornerstone is a title track JD calls “an anthem for my people. I’m still partial to where I’m from. I spend time there when I’m off the road, and I carry its spirit with me everywhere I go.”

The state couldn’t be prouder to claim him in return—in fact, it’s JD’s face you’ll see on Kentucky’s 2020 Official Visitor’s Guide.

While it’s not surprising that the album’s ”Hometown In My Headlights” is about embracing your roots, the song’s feel was as important to JD as its message. “The title drew me in,” he says. “I wanted an authentic anthem, something that says ‘today’s country,’ and I just love the drive, the groove, the party feel, something I really wanted on the album.” So did CMT, which added the video straight out of the box.

“Sun Bleached Polaroid” looks back on a perfect moment in time, while “Sunburn” is a pure slice of country life with JD’s authenticity running through every note and phrase. “Country Boy’s Girl” is a modern, “homemade, homegrown” love song, and “Bottoms Up Sundown” embodies the pure release of a cold one, a guitar, and good friends after a hard day’s work in the country. Together, they help build a picture of the place where life and music come together.

JD calls “Fine By Me” “my wife’s favorite song. When Phil pitched it to me, I couldn’t believe it hadn’t been cut yet, and I knew it had to be part of the album.” Finally, there is “Church Pew Bar Stool,” which made its video world premiere on CMT and CMT Music on July 1st. “I’m so thrilled to have CMT’s support for the record,” he says. “It was the first song I recorded and I loved it from the moment I heard it. My upbringing was in a small-town Baptist church and I related to the song and the lyrics, about finding our own ways to ‘do what He would do.’ In times like these, I think it should hit home with a lot of people.”

 The record is the latest in a career on an ever-upward spiral. The video for JD’s single “One Less Girl” premiered on CMT as well, while the song earned thousands of online views, aired on dozens of country radio stations nationwide, and appeared on Nashville’s prestigious Music Row chart. Another single, “She Keeps Me Up Nights,” topped the CMT 12-pack Countdown chart.

JD’s other accomplishments are as diverse as they are impressive, including appearances on GAC, articles in Country Weekly Magazine, a debut as the #1 trending artist on CMT.com, and live performances at over a hundred fairs/festivals spanning the eastern U.S. He has been part of the CMA Music Festival, the NCAA Women’s Final Four, and the Quaker State 400 NASCAR Race, and has performed at SunTrust Park, Guaranteed Rate Field, Great American Ballpark, Freedom Hall, and Rupp Arena, to name just a few, opening for Miranda Lambert, Craig Morgan, Chris Young, Marty Stuart, Jamey Johnson, and Montgomery Gentry, and sharing the stage with over fifty national acts. He was also featured as the Texas Roadhouse Artist of the Month nationwide in May 2020 in 580 restaurants, a feat shared with the likes of Kenny Chesney, George Strait, and Rodney Atkins.

But few accolades match the chance to share the stage with the Texas trio enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“Opening for ZZ Top has to be my biggest career moment,” he says. “If you’d have told me I’d be getting that chance when I first started playing music in college, I’d have thought you were crazy.”

For JD, the highlight reel is long and growing. He has made numerous appearances at the Kentucky Derby and his outfits have been featured on display in the museum at historic Churchill Downs. He performed the Kentucky state song at the capital by request of the state’s Senate and House of Representatives, and he was part of Hometown Rising in Louisville, headlined by Tim McGraw, playing for a crowd of tens of thousands. He has been featured in Kentucky Monthly and Kentucky Alumni magazines and was named Most Outstanding Alumnus of the University of Kentucky’s College of Communication and Information in 2016.

In addition, JD has raised thousands of dollars for charities including St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Blessings In a Backpack, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure to name a few.

One of the hardest-working singers in show business, JD was recognized by the artist platform website, BandsInTown, for playing the most shows of any of its half-million artists, a feat that earned him a mention in Billboard in 2019.

Though he’s always been passionate about music, JD was a late bloomer when it came to entertaining. He grew up on a tobacco farm with his mother, a schoolteacher and father, a principal. There, he was instilled with “a strong work ethic, a love for family, and having a passion for what you do. My hometown of Taylorsville has provided me with a large platform to help share my story and chase down my dreams.”

Everything changed after his grandmother’s funeral.

“I was 19 when she passed away,” he says. “I’d been at college in Lexington for a few months and when I went home for her funeral, I found a guitar in her closet. I took it back to college and got the itch to play it. I played every single day in my apartment, in between classes. My dad also had the keys to the church back home, and I’d go play in the sanctuary, practicing singing through a microphone. There was just something about developing my craft in an empty church sanctuary. That’s where it all started for me back in 2002 and it just all came naturally.”

Friends advised the young singer to start playing clubs as his passion for music and entertainment grew, and he started to sell out shows and build a large loyal following. Then, he began driving to Louisville to launch a wider musical journey, moving to Nashville after graduating college.

“I haven’t looked back since,” he says.

Fans who have followed him since the early days know just how impressive his combination of talent and dedication is, and as they follow him on social media, they are learning how he balances that drive with family.

“Music and family are where it’s at,” he says. “I really feel blessed on the personal side with my wife and our son Jax. And I noticed that when they’re in a video, I get more traffic. People want to see our inside lives—it’s not just about the music. No matter how weird the world gets, we have something in common—music and family, and performing and recording is my way of sharing those.”

Those fans are the ones who crowded the streets of Taylorsville to celebrate their home-town hero, an artist they’re now sharing with the world.

“That homecoming gig was such a thrill,” says JD. “This is a journey we’re taking together, and I’m grateful for every face in that crowd, and for the support that’s been the basis of this entire career.”

And given that support, for the man who earns it with each performance and recording, the sky is the limit.

What others are saying?

“For those of us who know, JD Shelburne is already a superstar. Now with the release of his new album “Straight from Kentucky”, the rest of the world will discover JD’s incredible talent. Songs like “Hometown In My Headlights” and “Sunburn” are sure to be blasting out of car stereos, coast to coast all summer long!

JD Shelburne is the rare combination of an incredible talent with true artistry, and an even better human being.

“Straight From Kentucky” is the album that will sit nicely with the classics in your record collection!

Mark McGrath

Lead vocalist of the rock band Sugar Ray, Host of SiriusXM 90’s on 9

“JD is one of our favorite new artists at CMT!  He’s been part of many of our artist franchises and video premieres!  This new song is next level for JD and time for everyone to pay attention”.
Leslie Fram

Senior Vice President of Music Strategy, CMT

“JD Shelburne’s new album Straight From Kentucky is an awesome collection of well written sings performed incredibly well … Shelburne has been honing his craft for a long time now and I believe this project will launch him into a whole new level of success …. and big time success is what this guy deserves … He is the real deal …”


Joe Bonsall

Lead Singer, The Oak Ridge Boys

“We are very excited about J.D.’s new release. We’ve watched his career grow from playing in our Support Center parking lot to being featured as our Texas Roadhouse Artist of the Month at over 600 locations. J.D. is a great partner to Texas Roadhouse and we can’t way to see the success his new album brings.”
Travis Doster

Vice President of Communications, Texas Roadhouse

“J.D. Shelburne’s new album, Straight From Kentucky, is hot and fresh! Just like Mom’s homemade Kentucky biscuits. Really smart, well written songs performed brilliantly. Congrats to producer Phil O’Donnell and my pal J.D. on a superb album. Well done! “
Steve Wariner

Recording Artist, Grand Ole Opry Member/ Grammy Award, CMA & ACM Award Winner

JD in my opinion is arguably the hardest working independent artist in the music business. It’s no mystery why JD continues to have doors open for him…his kind of work ethic and energy make you want to get on board, so I did. We’ve written some great songs together but he’s always listening for a hit and not afraid to cut an outside song. This gets writers like myself excited. It’s old school but it still works! JD continues to mature and define himself as an artist so I’ve no doubt this new album will be his best.
Mark Nesler

Award Winning Songwriter, Writer of several #1 hits

“Hometown in my Headlights should be a number one single. It’s what you get when you match a great singer with a great song. Best line in the song is… a party in the parking lot.”
Lee Greenwood

“I am looking forward to hearing JD Shelburne’s new album ‘Straight From Kentucky.’ If it is anything like his new single “Hometown In My Headlights,” I’ll be playing it everywhere!”

Johnny Lee

“JD is a genuine and engaging performer whose high energy and affable character create the atmosphere that defines great performance. This impressive album captures the remarkable talent and essence of JD.”

Brent Elliott

Master Distiller & Director of Quality , Four Roses Bourbon

“JD is one of those guys that has been around and is not going to take ‘no’ for an answer. Straight ahead work ethic and where one door closes it seems that God opens two more for him. Three minutes from being a major.”

Phil O’Donnell

Producer, Writer of several #1 Country Songs/ Producer Blake Shelton, Craig Morgan and more.

I had the opportunity to interview J.D. this summer and immediately got the vibe that he’s the real deal!  When you listen to his music, that’s obvious, but talking to the man solidified that.  He’s not only a great singer, but he’s also an exceptional songwriter.  And in this business, it starts with those who put pen to paper to make the magic.  J.D. is the complete package.  
Bub McCullough

Radio Host , WMCI/WCBH/WWGO/WZNX-HD Mattoon, IL

“J.D. was a delightful guest on the Z100 Radio Roadhouse! His musicianship was suburb and we loved hearing the stories behind the songs. He’s a solid performer and a fun personality!”

Shawna Matthews

Z100, Carbondale, IL

“JD Shelburne is the next Country music star to come from Kentucky.  We’re playing him, you should be too.”
Greg Almond

Program Director, WGGC Goober FM 95.1

“Well produced, well sung and well written, J.D. Shelburne comes out with a super strong debut that is sure to be a hit with the listeners.  Can’t wait to watch this guy’s career blossom.”

Mike Thomas

Program/ Music Director , KWRE/KFAV Radio Warrenton, MO

“We have witnessed JD build his following from the ground up and with “One Less Girl” he is taking his career to the next level.”

Brett Waford

Program Director, WVKY & WFKY Froggy 101.7 & 104.9 Frankfort, KY

“I was seriously impressed at the turnout for JD‘s hometown show in 2021. Fans were singing along to every word. He is a great representation of Kentucky’s rich musical heritage and is definitely one to watch.”

Ashley Wilson

Director of Country Programming, 97.5 WAMZ, 98.1 The Bull, 98.9 Kiss FM, WNRW-FM Louisville, KY

“ J.D. Shelburne relays a willingness to share in his new Album. The Kentucky Born singer songwriter recorded songs that touched every area of his life. From small town , friends, family, life growing up, church, youth & his heritage. His music is a lifestyle that allows him to show off his love for small-town America , along with finding hope and comfort in his world. Straight from Kentucky addresses everything you could imagine about the state and paints a picture in your mind to get up and head up to the Bluegrass parkway right now.“

Tony Conway

President, Conway Entertainment Group, LLC / Ontourage Management, LLC


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