JD Shelburne’s new video, Fine By Me, premiers today on Sounds Like Nashville. The Kentucky-born singer says it is a song that people will instantly relate to. “I’ve been there hundreds of times,” he admits. “My wife and I married several years and dated a long time before that, so you can imagine I heard ‘be there in a minute’ often over that time.”
The song was pitched to Shelburne by Phili O’Donnel, his producer, and he couldn’t believe someone had not already cut it. “The line ‘it’s fine that we’re late’ really caught my attention when I listened to it,” the singer says. “I finished my album during the album pandemic during the pandemic, and it is one of songs I first heard and instantly loved. I played it on Facebook Live one night and people loved it. It spread like wildfire and my fans loved it; it’s their favorite song. I’m surprised it hasn’t been cut — it’s a hit. It’s right in my key, it’s my favorite song to play live, and it’s taken off quicker than anything I’ve recorded. I’m anxious to see what fans think about the video.”
Shelburne says he has input into all his videos. “We had the idea to shoot this in a house setting, and then we like to never found one that the owners would let us do it in. Finally we found an owner of an AIRBnB who would rent it to us for a few hours to do the video. The next part was finding someone to be in the video. We had great weather the day we did it. We actually shot it the end of the year, the layout, the colors, the weather were all great that day. I am really excited to bring this song to life. My fans love music videos so I think they will love this one.”
Shelburne says he takes a lot of time and pride in looking for songs for a new album project. Listening for songs and writing songs is a long process for him. “This album, Straight From Kentucky, is about half songs I’ve written and half that I found. My producer Phil O’Donnel sent me some songs one day and said, ‘See if you like any of these.’ “Fine By Me” was the first one that I liked. This song is upbeat, has sex appeal to it, and I feel like I wrote it. And it’s my wife’s favorite song.”
“I couldn’t have asked for a better year,” says JD Shelburne of 2021. “We pushed the album release to mid-2021 which gave me the chance to deep dive looking for songs. In 2020 I lost 86 gigs, but it gave me more time to focus on listening to songs. There was that time period when we weren’t allowed to leave the house, so I started doing Facebook Live, testing songs, trying to find ways to keep people interested. I played songs on line that I thought I might record, and then I listened to what fans said about them. Covid gave me time to take a deep breath and listen to these songs. There is nothing worse than being rushed when you are recording an album.
“I’m real excited about new music all the time, and this album has been a whirlwind. I never had a top 10 record before, and I feel like this is best one I’ve put out. ‘Fine By Me’ is our third single off the record. It’s been a song hit in my set list. My fans love music videos, it’s been a great way to bring songs to life, and they’ve helped me with bookings.”
Shelburne grew up in Taylorsville, Kentucky, 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.”
Music was not in the forefront in his high school years. He played sports and sang in his church. “When we took trips to play sports, we would blast Alan Jackson and Tim McGraw CDs on the bus and we’d sing along. A lot of times I found myself leading the pack, it was just kind of natural for me but I never really thought about singing as a career.
While Shelburne was in college, his grandmother passed away and everything changed after her 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.”
Shelburne began playing in clubs as his passion for music and entertainment grew, and he started to sell out shows and build a loyal following in his hometown area as well as in Louisville.
“While I was in college 2002-2007 I would come to Nashville to check out Broadway (where there are many clubs and honky tonks to perform). In February 2008, after I had graduated from college, I packed up my guitars, suitcases and a bag full of dreams and moved to Nashville.”
Shelburne didn’t know anyone in the music industry at the time, but he did know he wanted to sing and entertain people. He went back and forth between Taylorsville and Nashville for a while, working day jobs and playing music at night as his fan base continued to grow. “If you looked at me on the outside you would have thought I was signed to a label, but I’ve never done that,” he says. “In 2012 I put out my first record. It was self-titled, and then I started opening up for other artists. Many of them were singing their own songs so thought I should start to write songs for me. I did sign a production deal and learned a lot from that experience. I started making some noise in Nashville. I was making a good living and making fans and that was all I ever wanted. I really started from the bottom and moved up. I’ve been able to do a lot of things in music because I worked my butt off for 10 years.”
Shelburne made an impression on the industry and many of the other artists who met him along the way. Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge boys says, “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.”
Steve Wariner agrees, saying, “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 JD on a superb album. Well done! “
In addition to drawing praise from his peers. Shelburne has opened for many of the major artists, including ZZ Top, and says few accolades match the chance to share the stage with the Texas trio who are members of 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.”
The singer has also opened for Miranda Lambert, Craig Morgan, Chris Young, Marty Stuart, Jamey Johnson, and Montgomery Gentry, among others.
Being an independent meant Shelburne had to learn a lot as he began climbing that ladder of success. “I have learned that it is a very close network of people in the music business. At the end of the day, it is about fans and making relationships. Shake hands and respect the people who come to your shows. Just be genuine to people. That is something I will never lose, appreciating people. And never forget where you came from. A lot of people I met along the way went back home. It is a tough business.
“I’ve never found anyone who could outwork me. You have to find some way to set yourself apart and that is how I really got where I am. I’ve stayed true to the course, didn’t get involved in drugs and alcohol. I was raised in a Christian family and learned to chaise your dreams.”