The latest talent to come out of Alabama isn’t a football star. It’s Gardendale native Josh Kinney, whose songs mix the feel-good charm of modern country music with the beat-heavy punch of pop. With influences ranging from old-school icons like George Strait and Motley Crue to modern hitmakers like Florida Georgia Line and Khalid, Kinney makes music that nods to the past while still pushing forward, putting a young, updated spin on the southern sounds he grew up with.
Kinney began writing songs at home, in a household filled with foster siblings and two hard-working parents. It was hard to find a quiet place to work with 12 children in the home, but that didn’t stop him from falling in love with both the challenge and craft of songwriting, strumming each new song on the acoustic guitar he received as a Christmas present at 14 years old. He even dreamt up new melodies while chasing down fly balls as a member of the school baseball team. “I’d be in the outfield, just singing in my head and finding a good hook,” he remembers. “The coach would start yelling at me and throw me on the bench, but then I’d just be trying to write a song on the bench.” Back at home, he sang at family events to build up his confidence as a vocalist. He also created beats with his friends and continued writing his own songs, eventually emerging from one writing session with an upbeat track called “Oceans.”
“Ocean” changed everything. Kinney wrote the song when he was 15 years old, then saved up $800 to properly record it with local producer Jon Hornsby. Released independently less than two years later, “Oceans” helped earn him a national audience, as well as the attention of the Los Angeles-based record label Birmingham Entertainment. Young and energetic, Kinney was a natural fit for the label. He signed with Birmingham Entertainment while still a teenager and began working on new music — music that was unflinchingly modern while remaining proudly based in the country world. Perhaps most importantly, his songs all maintained a positive outlook.
“My generation is one that struggles with a lot of anxiety and depression” Kinney explains. “But I’m all about spreading a positive vibe. I’m trying to get away from that darkness and spread a whole new type of energy — an energy that helps people feel good and forget about everything else.”
Joining him in that mission to spread a positive vibe is producer Jimmy Ritchey known for his work with Sam Hunt and Jake Owen, and Alabama-based A&R exec Johnny Wilson, who helped discover Kinney’s talent and lead him to the Birmingham Entertainment label. Together, they’re evolving Josh Kinney’s sound — a sound that assimilates his diverse influences into something bright, buoyant, and beat-driven. Kinney has already come a long way on his own. Now, with help from a team that believes in his music, he’s poised for something bigger: a future that’s as promising as his own songs.