Shreveport, Louisiana native Jacob Davis fell in love with the Baton Rouge culture and music while studying environmental science and geology at LSU, and he’s bringing that soulful swagger into his debut album for Black River Entertainment.
“I’m obviously putting that degree to good use,” he quipped. “I had always played music and grew up with all different styles. The culture, the music, it’s infectious.”
Though Davis had taken up guitar at age 15 and performed during college, he didn’t take the direct route to Nashville. Instead he took a job working on an oil rig, for a Texas-based oil company.
“I knew about two weeks in that I’d made a mistake,” Davis recalls.
The gig was lucrative, and his parents requested he stick with it for a year, reasoning that if he still wanted to quit after a year, he could leave and go to Nashville.
“A year to the day, I quit. I moved to Nashville six years ago.”
Davis began co-writing, eventually finding his way into writing rooms or on the road with songwriters and artists including Forest Glen Whitehead and Kelsea Ballerini.
“She’s such a star but she had a lot of my old demos and she liked my songs and voice. She’s just a music fan in general. I started opening shows for her,” recalled Davis. One of those opening gigs at Joe’s Bar in Chicago earned the interest of former Black River General Manager Greg McCarn and current Sr. VP, Radio Promotion Mike Wilson.
“I had 20 minutes to open and I didn’t play a single cover,” said Davis. “They asked why, and I said, ‘I only have 20 minutes. I don’t have time to play somebody else’s songs.’”
In 2016, Davis signed a publishing deal with Black River Publishing. One month later, he was signed as an artist to Black River Entertainment.
His debut single, “What I Wanna Be” was written with Forest Glen Whitehead and Adam Hambrick.
“It’s about a guy who is telling someone that he’s crazy about what he wants to be,” said Davis. “There’s a line in the song that goes, ‘Put some pancakes on your plate.’ It’s probably one of my favorite lines I’ve ever written, because you remember it.”
During his visit to MusicRow, Davis also performed acoustic versions of tracks “Back Me Up” and “James Brown,” a signature song that he infuses with horns, backup singers, and a soulful New Orleans style on his upcoming album.
“It’s been a dream to make this record. We took some risks with production, like a falsetto part that I had never done before, or a rapid-fire lyric in the chorus I had never done before.”
Davis’ ultimate goal is to make music that is not only memorable, but enduring.
“In country music, the genre is already broad and continues to broaden. When you’ve got everybody from Sam Hunt to William Michael Morgan, there is a lot of space there that can get filled up. A lot of new acts coming out, so if you are a newcomer, you better come with something different, because it’s easy to get lost. And when you look back at the songs you remember from certain eras, it’s always the music that was different for the time. That’s what I want to do.”
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