Taking a Leap

Greylan James

Greylan James put his all into becoming country music’s next big thing

Born and raised in Halls, Greylan James’ vision of moving to Nashville to become a country music artist never seemed like a pipe dream. “Everybody knew somebody that had moved to Nashville to try to do the country music thing,” he says. So when his Papaw gave him a toy guitar for Christmas when he was five, his own version of that dream very quickly took shape. “The story my family tells is that I got that guitar and took it to my bunk bed and played it until my fingers literally bled,” he laughs. 

Five years later, he got his first real guitar—again from his Papaw—and began taking lessons. Greylan’s grandparents were two of his first supporters. And when his grandmother passed away, just a short time after getting his guitar, he “wanted to do something special for her” and so he wrote his first song about her and sang it at her funeral. People responded to his talent. “It became part of my blood after that moment in my life.” 

Things came to a head at age 17. It was time to decide if he should go to college, ship off to Nashville, or keep performing in Knoxville “until somebody finds me on the internet,” he says. Coincidentally, the latter happened. A Nashville music publisher reached out, offering him a publishing deal to write songs. “I’d never written with anybody besides myself, but in Nashville, everybody every day writes with different people,” he says. “It was a wake-up call.” His desire to excel at songwriting would soon pay off though as Kenny Chesney reached out about a song Greylan had written. “That changed my life,” Greylan says. “Happy Does” became a hit. 

He has since written songs for other big names like Blake Shelton and Chris Young. And after releasing his own singles last year, including his first “Anything Cold,” Greylan signed a record deal to Big Machine Label Group in March. He is currently touring with Old Dominion. You can follow his journey at greylanjames.com.  

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