Mat Kearney’s arching, mellow compositions and deft blending of hip-hop, CCM, and folk have made him a live favorite and adult contemporary mainstay. Emerging in 2004 with Bullet, Kearney departed slightly from his rhymes and concentrated more on guitar work for subsequent efforts like 2011’s Young Love and 2015’s Just Kids, both of which reached the Top 20 of the Billboard 200. In 2021, this Nashville-based artist brought all of his varied influences together on the rootsy January Flower.
A quintessential late-bloomer to music, Kearney didn’t write his first song until midway through college. Raised by hippie parents in Oregon, he was charmed early on by music, smitten with albums like Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Paul Simon’s Graceland. But it wasn’t until the summer between his junior and senior year at California State University Chico that his musical life began. Splitting for Nashville, he slept on a friend’s couch for what seemed like an eternity, before cutting the learn-as-you-go debut album Bullet in 2004. Three years later, and thanks in large part to VH1 which kept “Nothing Left to Lose” in rotation for 45 consecutive weeks, before sending Kearney out as the headliner of the channel’s first You Oughta Know tour, he was playing Madison Square Garden and appearing on The Late Show With David Letterman. “Nothing Left to Lose,” “Undeniable,” and “Breathe In Breathe Out” all cracked the Top 40.