No wind, rain, sleet, snow or popped tire was going to prevent Sony recording artist Josh Dorr from keeping his interview with Country Music #CMchat, and I learned that within moments of hearing his voice on the other end of the phone. Josh explained that he was driving from meeting to meeting earlier in the morning and, as soon as he filled the car with gas, his tired went “BOOM” and blew out on the highway. First and foremost, I am certainly glad Josh is okay and came out unscathed. I am also quite grateful that he didn’t postpone our conversation because he is an absolutely kindhearted and wonderful man who can put a smile on anybody’s face.
A northern man from Gillette, Wyoming with southern gentleman charm, Josh began his love affair with country music as a child, having to make the choice between two local radio stations – country or rock ‘n’ roll. However, he didn’t start playing guitar until he was a junior in college. While playing collegiate football and studying biomechanics and kinesiology, Josh injured his ankle, sidelining him indefinitely. At the time he was laid up with his foot in a boot, he started to teach himself from guitar chords.
If you thought Josh was down on his luck when you read that he had to hang up his shoulder pads and helmet, you thought wrong. The actual life-altering blow came when he was informed that his credits from a previous college weren’t going to transfer to his university and he would, essentially, be starting his education over as a freshman. Like anybody holding a hand of cards like Josh was at the time, he went to the bar in the middle of the afternoon and started to drink his woes away.
Setting a perfect example of being in the right place at the right time, Josh was recognized by a family friend who had connections in Nashville and in the country music industry. Weeks later, opportunity arose for him to take an internship at a record label (Showdog Universal) in Nashville, Tennessee. The rubber hit the road (this time staying in tact!) and he made the move for one reason … but the reason that he would stay in Music City is quite different.
Once he relocated and was surrounded by country music, he began his hand at writing songs – a career he didn’t realize existed until he was in the heart of the industry. Working through his longtime shyness, Josh fully embraced his talents for singing, songwriting, and guitar playing, and began to find a home on the stage.
Hailing from a sleepy town, Nashville has been a startling change for the Wyoming native. However, it’s a change that he has welcomed with open arms.
I love how busy [Nashville] is. I don’t know what to do with myself when I’m off the road or whatever . . . I just love the busyness, I love the food, the people here are so nice. The music industry is cutthroat, you know, and it’s very competitive, but at the same time everybody’s helping each other try to grow.
Josh affectionately spoke of the camaraderie between artists and how special it is to watch artists whom he met before they got their breaks be featured in Rolling Stone every week and have their songs played for the masses.
On the subject of having songs introduced to the public, Josh is currently experiencing that for himself, as he recently released his debut single “Save Your Breath.” A track that has been described as “provocative,” “sexy,” and even “soft core porn,” Josh intended for his lyrics to relay a message of honoring and caring for a woman.
You just want to comfort them and take care of them and, even if it’s not required, you pour a glass of wine and tell her to kick her shoes off, go lay down, it’s time to rest, you know, save your breath. You don’t even have to talk. I’ve got you. . . . And just treating your girl to something good at the end of the day.
Inspired by Bryan Adams and nineties country love songs, his single was meant to be filled more with love than lust. Despite this innocent underlying meaning, he did make sure I knew that he doesn’t “get off the phone and play it for Mom in the living room! That’s a little awkward!”
Ultimately, Josh’s goal is to be unique, sing about different subject matter, stay true to himself, and write about the things that inspire him. One particular song that he wrote, which he deemed his favorite from his catalog, was inspired by his cousin, Chad. Josh described Chad as a “true cowboy” who began riding bulls at the age of twelve. When Chad was seventeen, he was bucked off a bronc during a ride and was paralyzed from the neck down.
It was really hard because it was so sad, being such an active, strong dude and just kind of watching him not be able to do all the normal things like brushing your teeth; it just like tore me up. And then he started gaining a little control of his hands, and then he was at a spinal chord [treatment facility] in Denver and my mom called me and she’s like “you won’t believe what happened today. Chad started wiggling his toes.” And then another month went by and she was like “Chad just took his first steps.” The doctor came in and told him when he injured himself “look kid, you’re just going to have to deal with it. You’re never gonna walk again. You’re never gonna do it.” Which was really messed up. You never just like tell somebody that, especially that early in the stage. And Chad, being the cowboy that he is, he’s like “Well, I told that doctor! I’ll show him!” and, sure enough, eight months later he was up, and now he walks with a cane. A complete miracle story.
This difficult turn of events, which later resulted in an unexpectedly beautiful ending, inspired “Down Goes the Cowboy.” The song spread around Wyoming, putting Josh’s face on the map in his native state, but it didn’t just stop there. Garth Brooks also got his hands on the emotionally driven and highly personally track and placed it on hold for about a week. “It would have been more cool if he cut it! But, you know, it was so cool that he had listened to it.”
Because of this experience, Josh adopted the mentality of never using the word “can’t,” and he hasn’t used it since he witnessed his cousin’s miraculous recovery. Perhaps that is how Josh found the drive to expeditiously build a career in music in his new town. Josh Dorr is signed with Sony, pushing his single, and finishing up a radio tour. He was also supposed to join Lucy Hale on tour this winter as well, but, unfortunately, Lucy had to cancel due to vocal strain. And, when I spoke with him, he was looking forward to heading to Memphis to spend time with the sweet children at St. Jude’s, a day that was likely going to melt his heart a bit because he’s a self-proclaimed “softy with kids.”
At the end of the day, one of the most important things to Josh, as an artist and a man, is to live similarly to Little Jimmy Dickens, whose funeral he recently attended. Josh was inspired by the way Little Jimmy Dickens was remembered as always being kind to others, no matter who the person was or the amount of success he/she experienced.
I love meeting people. I just want people to enjoy my music, but, more importantly, hopefully enjoy my personality and come off as a nice guy, and I like to goof around. I’m kind of a dork. And, I’m just all about making connections with people, whether off or on stage. Hopefully they walk off with good things in their mind. . . . Obviously you want people to think the highest and best of you and hopefully people will think that about me.
After a lengthy phone call with Josh, I can assure you that I think incredibly highly of him and that he left a lasting impression on me. I am confident he will do the same for all of you.