Raleigh Keegan was born in the Columbus State Penitentiary while his birth mother was serving for drug charges. She gave him up for adoption, so Keegan was able to grow up in a loving household.
“She made the incredibly brave decision to give me up for adoption. I was adopted a couple of days after I was born and grew up about 15 minutes north of the river in Cincinnati. I have amazing parents. They got me and my brother involved in everything,” Keegan said in a recent virtual visit with MusicRow.
His passion for music was encouraged as a child, and he now plays five instruments—but piano is his weapon of choice.
“When I was in kindergarten I would [play] my kindergarten teacher’s piano. He told my parents that I was playing things that a kindergartener shouldn’t know how to play. So my parents, being the parents they are, found a free piano in Michigan. So we drove seven and a half hours to Michigan and brought an upright piano back in a minivan,” Keegan said. “It was out of tune when we first got it and it could never be tuned, so I learned how to play on an out-of-tune piano and it’s really funny because on all my records, there are out of tune pianos because I like the sound of them.”
Keegan also excelled in jazz trombone in his high school band, but quit in college to play football. “I decided to play football so the girls would like me,” he quipped.
After college Keegan became a personal trainer. While in that job, he heard his first impactful taste of country music, which altered the course of his life.
“I listened to a Zac Brown Band record, they did it for me,” Keegan said. “I grew up on James Taylor, Billy Joel, and the Eagles; people like that. Country music wasn’t in my life until I heard Zac Brown Band. They got me obsessed with country music. On my lunch breaks, I would write songs.”
Keegan kept writing and started releasing his songs to a growing social media following. “I really caught the bug then, I was smitten. I had to do this thing, to the point where my wife and I, we sold our house to pay for my first record in Nashville. That was a crazy experience because I had to figure out how to pay our bills with only music.”
Keegan started booking gigs for himself until he and his wife could move to Nashville. He eventually met Grammy award-winning producer Ryan Gore (Old Dominion, Jon Pardi), and has since released “Way Back,” “Another Good Day,” and “Long Line of Lovers,” which have contributed to the 7 million streams across his catalog.
Keegan’s “Long Line of Lovers” is inspired by stories about his ancestry, which he learned from his biological mother when he reconnected with her.
“She told me the story about why she was in prison. She told me about her family and that it runs in the family a little bit because her dad was a bank robber,” Keegan said. “He was part of America’s top 10 most wanted people. So I understood for the first time why I so loved to break the rules, not like robbing banks, but in general. I’m a risk taker or rule breaker.
“Part of my story is I don’t completely fall in line with them, because of my wife. She’s just a big part of my story and how I didn’t end up another person on a long line of lovers who love the wrong thing.”
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