Exclusive Interview: Southern Boy Jordan Rager


At the age of fourteen, BBR Music Group artist Jordan Rager never could have imagined his path would take him to where he is today. A true “Southern Boy,” Rager grew up in Georgia, starting his career by playing local festivals. As luck may have it, Barry Williams, Rager’s now manager, happened to catch an acoustic set by the teenager and was immediately drawn to his obvious talent and potential to make it in the country music industry.

Working with Williams opened doors for Rager, even landing him a spot opening for Justin Moore. Being surrounded with industry professionals, Rager found that the arrow was always pointing him toward Broken Bow (BBR Music Group), and has since found his home with the Benny Brown-run label.

As part of the BBR Music Group family, as Jordan calls it, he is fortunate to work along side prominent males in the genre, including Jason Aldean. In fact, Rager’s current single, “Southern Boy,” is a duet with him and the ACM Entertainer of the Year.

That song was never supposed to be a duet. That song was just gonna be me. It was gonna be on my record, but it was just gonna be me singing it. And, you know, Jason’s been not only a supporter of my music, but kind of a friend and somewhat of a big brother figure to me ever since he first heard about me. We would have conversations of like, maybe I’m frustrated, so I’d call him and talk to him because he’s been through it and I haven’t. But, through that, Jason was like “I love your sound. I love your music. Do you got anything that you’re not gonna do on your record? Send it to me and I’d love to check it out maybe for me?” I was like “absolutely!” I started sending him stuff and he heard “Southern Boy” . . . and he called me one day and he was like, “Man. That song. There’s really something to it. Is there a back story to it?” The song was dedicated to a kid named Cameron Scroggins who had terminal cancer and passed away at sixteen. I told him the whole back story of the song. It really touched him. . . . He said, “Man, it’d be really cool if you and I did that together.” I was like, “Yeah! I’m sure we can work that out!”

Using Scroggins’ story for inspiration, the writers got together and wrote a tune about never allowing life to get the best of you, no matter how hard it occasionally knocks you down.

One of my favorite lines in the song is, “Southern boy, when the road starts getting rough, the wheels you’re on will get you home, no matter how deep the mud.”

“Southern Boy,” while serving as Rager’s first single off his album, is just a glimpse at what fans can expect from the offering. Also available to give listeners a sneak peek are two songs on iTunes that will make the debut record — a project Rager explains he feels like he had his whole life to write.

I’m really proud of what we’ve come up with in the studio and . . . I really hope everyone’s going to like it. They’re going to get honesty, I would say. ‘Cause this first record is most people’s introduction to me. I approached this as I really just wanted to be honest about who I am, what I want my music to sound like, and what I want to say in my music. So, it’s gonna be me, really.

While Rager had a hand in writing on several tracks on his album, there are also outside songs that he couldn’t pass up once he heard them, explaining that they immediately spoke to him as if he wrote them. One song that Rager pointed out had an “I wish I wrote that” effect on him is Luke Bryan‘s “We Rode In Trucks” because it perfectly described his upbringing and friendships.

I think you hear those songs every now and then, and the cool thing about Nashville is there are so many songs being written all the time on a daily basis. And most of them go unheard, but the cool thing about being an artist in Nashville is that if you hear one of those songs you can connect with personally, you can cut it and you can make it your own song.

As Rager moves forward in his career toward the release of the album and the many activities related to that mile marker, he carries with him an important lesson he learned from Justin Moore, and that is how to treat people on and off the stage.

Justin, when I first started the tour, I would play twenty minutes acoustic set, and then Justin would get on right after me. So, I would play my show, run back to my bus, put all my stuff away, change, and go out to the sound board, front of house, and watch Justin. I would watch the whole show. Everything he did. I would watch how he would interact with the crowd and how he would talk to certain people, when he would talk, when he wouldn’t talk. All that kind of stuff. When he would put fast songs and slow songs in the set. I watched everything. So, I really learned how to handle myself on stage from watching that. And, also, I learned how to treat people off stage. Justin is the nicest, straightest guys I’ve ever met. Not just in the music industry. I just love him. He’s a great dude. He was always so cool to me and band and crew and anybody that was around. He was just a nice guy. Justin’s band and crew followed suit. . . . I feel like that’s the one thing I took away from that tour. If you treat people good, they’ll treat you good right back.

So far, so good, as Rager is eliciting quite the response from fans, but also from artists he admires. Though he joked that he has had to pay those artists a lot of money for the kind words, the fact of the matter is, as much as Rager is looking up to them, they are, likewise, admiring him.

For them to be singing my praises and them to be in my corner, it’s not anything I ever thought I’d get to. I never thought I would get to have the support of Justin or Jason or whoever. I just knew I liked singing and I liked singing in front of people, and I hoped that one of these days I could figure out how to do it for a living. To have their support means absolutely everything to me.

With the support of his colleagues and the fans, Rager is booking new shows every day and will continue to head out to meet those fans face-to-face. During those shows, fans can expect to hear music off the new album, which will be out on an undetermined date later this year.

I’m excited to get that out for everybody to hear it. I’m just excited to play and hang out with everybody and meet up with all the new fans I’ve made. To anybody reading this, thank you for the support. I hope I can keep going for a long time. . . . I appreciate the support from everybody.

To find out how you can hear Jordan Rager live and meet this humble and grateful artist, follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and his website.