Macon native Jason Aldean recalls Nashville’s road to stardom

MACON, Ga. — Country superstar Jason Aldean builds on Macon’s musical heritage and pays homage to his hometown with a double album. Aldean released the “Macon” half of “Macon, Georgia” in November and the “Georgia” half on April 22.

Speaking to 13WMAZ anchor Frank Malloy on Zoom from his spot in Nashville, Aldean shared how special Macon is to him.

“It’s been a fun ride, man. Obviously more than I ever thought possible for my career,” Aldean said.

It all started for Jason Aldine Williams on Hartley Bridge Road in South Macon. He played clubs like Whiskey River and Nashville South, and events like the Georgia National Fair as a teenager. He says this is where he learned to do everything.

“I just tell people it was a great place for me to grow up,” he said. “I grew up playing sports and all that stuff. You could go into town if you wanted to or just hang out in the country a bit where I was. And it was fun man, I loved it I still have a ton of friends there.

He filled his teenage years with pursuing two passions – music and baseball.

“It’s funny because at that time playing ball was really my main focus. I mean music was almost kind of a hobby for me at that time,” he said .

Melissa Giles worked in the front office at Windsor Academy, where Jason graduated from high school.

“[It] Must be nice to be able to say I’m either going to be a baseball pro or a music pro,” Giles said.

At the time, she drove the school van and sometimes Jason drove her home.

“I didn’t realize he was a musician until one day he got in the van and he had his guitar, and I was like, ‘What is he doing with this guitar? ?'” she laughed.

His high school years were marked by weekend gigs and baseball hits for the Windsor Knights coached by Brannen Smith.

Smith recalls the days when Jason was in his dugout from 1992 to 1995. He says Jason was liked by everyone.

“Very likable,” Smith said, “He wasn’t an extrovert, but he wasn’t an introvert either. His peers liked him; he was a good guy. He never spoke ill of anyone. , he was just, you know, just a good quality guy.

A heartbreaking loss in the state finals his senior year ended Jason’s baseball career and his focus shifted solely to music – his senior biography says it all. But the path to stardom was paved with a few potholes.

Longtime WDEN personality Laura Starling recalls the rocky beginnings.

“We did a live show at a discount cigarette store on Shurling Drive…and said, ‘Hey, come meet Jason Aldean, we’ve got his new CD and you can meet him,’ and hardly anyone is come,” Starling said. .

Two failed record deals produced more frustration.

“It took me a couple of years to get the deal that I have now and even when I got that deal, Broken Bow Records was kind of an independent record company that really didn’t have much “, said Aldean.

The combination clicked and Jason’s self-titled debut produced three huge hits, and now he’s found himself topping the charts two dozen times.

“Know this guy is a superstar. He’s a superstar,” Starling said.

Aldean continues to win in country music, literally. In his nearly two decades in the business, 10 studio albums and all the success, he’s still just a Macon kid with big dreams.

“We all – as he got bigger and bigger and bigger – we all think back to when he came to school and we ran to the store and bought the magazine in which was his first article,” Giles said. .

“I’m just glad they’re still letting me be part of the game at this point, you know?” said Aldean.

He’ll headline June’s CMA Fest in Nashville with duet partner Carrie Underwood, and his Rock and Roll Cowboy Tour kicks off July 15.

Unfortunately, he won’t be coming to Macon for the tour. The only date scheduled for Georgia so far is at Enmarket Arena in Savannah on October 1.

You can find our full interview with Aldean here.

VIDEO EXTRAS: mules and math

Macon Arts Alliance needs your help to revitalize Macon’s music economy

Jason Aldean pays tribute to his hometown with his new album “Macon, Georgia”

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