Country music singer and songwriter, Jonathan Wyndham, 24, grew up in a close-knit family in Lexington, South Carolina.
He said as a kid, one of his mom’s rules were he and his two older sisters had to always be in choir and play an instrument.
His mother, a classically trained pianist and vocalist who played with the South Carolina Philharmonic, had an old classical guitar lying around. He started to learn and soon realized he could play and sing songs.
“That was immediately intoxicating,” he said.
On his 13th birthday, Jonathan got his first electric guitar.
“When you’re learning electric guitar you realize that when you turn it up louder, it feels like you play better,” he said with a laugh. “My parents would send me to my grandmother’s house five minutes away, and she would just put up with it. When she got tired of hearing it, she would feed me.”
the MUSIC, the SOUND
Jonathan grew up loving The Allman Brothers Band and Eric Clapton from his father. The two took weekend road trips to Clemson for football games and his father DJ’d all the classics.
“I love blues and southern infusion,” he said. “You take a turkey baster of country music, and you just put it in blues and rock like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Derrick Trucks.”
He said his influences are an eclectic mix. Songwriting wise, he’s influenced by Pop music powerhouse Max Martin and country music legend Vince Gill, who he calls “unmatched” when it comes to writing and vocals.
Jonathan said artists like Chris Stapleton, Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, Keith Urban, The Eagles, and John Mayer have also influenced his music and his sound.
“I’m a derivative of my influences.”
Jonathan credits his drive to be meticulous and methodical toward his music from his early experiences with his mother and classical composers.
“I’m really practical,” he said. “I don’t tell anyone how many all-nighters I pull. They don’t need to know that I sat here and did the guitar and Kemper until they were right.”
“Music is here forever. I don’t want to sit back in ten years and think the music I’m making now is lame,” he said. “It’s easier to throw in a trite line about sex or something like that than it is to dig deep and talk about something real.’”
Lyrically, he doesn’t want to have to explain to his future kids that a song might have paid for their house, but isn’t something he represents.
Jonathan said his songs are real and believes people can connect with them on a personal level.
“There’s a song I wrote called Time and a Half, and it’s about working too much and losing your family,” he said. “I wrote another one called Numb about substance abuse.”
He said like other genres; music country has always evolved and pulled from different sounds.
“In each artist, there are different mixtures of sounds and influences, but it’s all country music. There is no one American lifestyle – there’s a bunch. So do I think country music can be a bunch of different varieties cooked up together? Absolutely.”
the CITY, the VOICE
Right after high school, Jonathan moved to the Nashville area.
First in Murfreesboro, he said he found it difficult to focus and strive to be better there.
“If I’m surrounded by people who aren’t pushing me to achieve or people who aren’t better than me, then I’m going to be stagnant, and I know that,” he said. “I try to surround myself with people who have 30 years on me and who could play circles around me.”
Studying commercial songwriting at MTSU part-time, is planned to graduate in May.
In the summer of 2014, Jonathan made it through on NBC’s The Voice and decided to take a break from school to see what would happen.
He said a close friend of his knew someone that was connected with the show.
“At first, they said they had plenty for this season so maybe try next year. My friend pushed it and said, ‘No, you guys have got to listen to this guy,’ talking about me. They said okay send us a video. I played Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers. We used a different vocal run, and it worked,” he said.
Jonathan made it through and went on to L.A. for an executive audition where he played in front of the producers of the show. In his first performance on the show, he chose to sing Say Something by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera.
“They made it fairly clear they saw me as a Pop singer, and I wrestled with that a little bit because I wasn’t sure. I ended up singing that song, and it turned out well.”
All the judges hit their buzzers and Jonathan said in the moment it felt like Adam was really into him, so he picked him.
“In the second round, I sang a Pop song against a Pop singer and got knocked out there,” he said. “I had more gigs that Fall riding that wave.”
“I wrote a lot of music and opened a lot of doors. I learned a lot about myself, and I chased every door I opened.”
the NASHVILLE EFFECT
Halfway through his junior year in college, Jonathan moved up to Nashville. At the time, he was interning with music producer, Steve Ivey, and playing in a Christian band.
He said when he was initially starting to sing he struggled with pride and compensated with a façade of arrogance.
“On a Christian level, I didn’t want to sin and be so prideful. I was a jerk to people ,and I couldn’t give compliments because I was so insecure,” he said.
“It’s terrifying and I don’t want to let people down, but I feel like if I didn’t feel like that then I wouldn’t perform at my full potential for folks. Those butterflies are great because it says I care about the audience. I want the audience to get the best they can.”
As he matured, Jonathan danced around the idea of pursuing becoming an artist before finally agreeing to do so.
He said he felt like he’d always regret it if he didn’t take a shot at it.
“I met Steve six months into being in Nashville and we still work together,” he said. “And that’s been the biggest influence on me from the Nashville community.”
Jonathan said Steve is an Olympic-level coach for music.
“When I was in between apartments he let me sleep in his studio. Then his wife found out and said I could stay with them,” he said laughing again. “He brought me home like a sad puppy.”
Last year, Jonathan was band-leading for another country music artist, Seth Alley.
In a span of ten days, he had the opportunity to play at the Country Music Hall of Fame, The Ryman, and The Grand Ole Opry.
“It was crazy and so humbling,” he said. “I have such a reverence for The Ryman that when I sound checked, I played a Chris Stapleton tune. I wasn’t just going to the normal, ‘check, check.’ That’s not the first words or notes I’m going to make into a microphone at The Ryman. Instead, I played Whiskey and You. There are so many feelings in that place, and you have to catch on to that.”
As of lately, Jonathan has been touring as a guitar substitute with Southern gospel musician, Guy Penrod and playing in a bar band, Papa Bear and the Love Den.
He said he’s thankful to play on Broadway because it’s a different side and a grind like no other.
“It can kind of get to be a drag, but I’m a kid in a candy store anytime I get to play music and people care,” he said. “It’s interesting. Yeah, it’s paying the dues, but it’s called that not so you resent it, but so you’re appreciative, and you understand when you play arena shows if you ever get there.”
COMMUNITY as DEFINED
Jonathan said the community is like a heart that sends blood to the rest of the body.
“As an extrovert, I have to have a community or I will go insane,” he said. “As a musician, the community is how you grow, stay humble, and stay inspired.”
“As a Nashvillian, the community is everything I love about this town.”
He said the community is the reason people love to come here on weekends and the reason there is a Country Music Hall of Fame. He said those honored in the Hall of Fame had to stay inspired by the other musicians around them, or they wouldn’t have been able to make the music they did.
“That’s why I love being in bands,” he said. “You can’t be in a relationship with yourself. It’s like going out on a date with someone and seeing what they bring to the conversation. That’s what being in the studio with other people is like.”
Jonathan said what makes Nashville unique when it comes to the music industry is everyone successful is willing to work and do their best for others in the middle market level.
“It’s like when you cook bacon and you put it down on a plate and you lay like 50 paper towels down. There’re so many good vibes in Nashville that it soaks all the way through every sheet and even gets on the plate. It’s that $12 pack that has all the fat on it. That’s what Nashville is.”
He said the welcoming community is the reason country music and other creative things are growing in Nashville.
“I would never have thought when I moved to town six years ago, that I’d intern for a guy, and eventually my writing would get to the point where he says let’s do a record,” he said. “He would fund it and we would co-produce it. Never in a million years would I have put those pieces together.”
Jonathan said for right now he’s going to keep plugging away at being a solo artist. He is currently in talks with a record label he loves but said if things don’t work out on his own he’ll continue to play music for other people.
To hear his music check out his YouTube!
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