An unlikely start to Raleigh's life might as well be a country song itself. Raleigh Keegan was born in a jail to a brave, selfless single mother and placed for adoption. Raleigh's nack for music was evident at an early age when he started teaching himself piano. Inspired by the melodies and connection that country music brings, Raleigh knew he had found his home in the genre. Determined and able, Raleigh has been making a steady climb driven by the eagerness to share his story. Raleigh's goal, to connect with his fan through his authentic lyrics and catchy instrumentation. Keegan’s no fail attitude and determination has helped him achieve over 3 million collective streams and an impressive following of over 150k fans since selling his house and moving to Nashville in 2018. Hungry to release new music and share his story Raleigh Keegan's fan and industry following is booming!
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I know you started playing piano at a young age. Plus, there is a really great story about how you got the piano. You have to share it!
Oh man. Well, my parents are like super, my parents are insane. So they adopted me and my brother and they like are the type of parents who like don't buy anything for themselves, but like give everything to other people. I don't know that they bought new clothes. They can afford new clothes, but they gave everything to me and my brother and they found this piano. They're also super thrifty. Like my mom is like one of those coupon queens, my mom's, my mom's slays at coupons. And they found that they found a piano up in Michigan. So we, they decided to drive us seven and a half hours to go get this piano and drove back in a minivan. You know, I love that, which is insane.
I know you play five musical instruments! But how did the wheels really start turning in your head thanks to the piano?
My kindergarten teacher, his name's Mr. Hinkle. He told my parents that like, I would go over to his piano and like start playing things that I shouldn't be able to play. And he told my parents that. And so my parents were like, well, maybe we should, you know, like investigate and see if we should get him a piano or whatever. So that's kinda what started that. I was always super competitive with my brother, because was like a year and a half younger than him. And I was like a foot and a half taller than him. I was better than him at all the sports, but like, he was smarter than me. He's really smart. And like I just love the fact that I was better than him at like piano too.
How your family influence you and your music?
Well a lot of my music that I've been releasing is like personal family stories, you know, like “Long Line of Lovers” is a personal family story. And then later on this year on this record that I've got coming out, I've got my adoption story coming out and the story of my birth father too. So both sides of that. And I'm really excited about that. That's just the tangible way right there. I just write about my family. Honestly, like the truth, my parents have helped me so much. From like paying for piano lessons, paying for trombone lessons encouraging me in college to keep up with music, even though I was doing football in college. Just like driving to Florida for one of my shows like that type of thing, you know, they're just like, they're there, those people,
I thought I was a big Zac Brown Band fan. I know that their “Uncaged” album solidified country music for you. I’ve been told you listened to it for six months straight. I’m curious to ask you like what it was about that album, that one drew you in and kept your attention for that long.
I wasn't planning on getting vulnerable, during that time I was going through a really hard time in my life. And it was something that I'd never dealt with before. And, and of course, none of those songs on that Zac Brown Band record have anything to do with like OCD, anxiety, like what I, what I struggle with. There was something odd that like made me not feel alone. I just put that crap on repeat, like there was something about the longing in “Goodbye In Her Eyes” and “Sweet Annie” that did it for me. It was not speaking to my specific problem at all. I was not going through a breakup. It just, it just made me, you know, it's that intangible thing that like, I can't even, I can't even tell you why it's just so funny. Music can do that to you!
Somebody the other day told me what my song, my new song “Handyman” meant to them. It had nothing to do with what the actual song was about. I was blown away because I was like, some of this doesn't matter, some of this doesn't matter at all. If you just put your heart into it, like, I don't know. It just think things just happen. It's weird. I know that sounds weird. But like that Zach Brown Band record was about heartbreak and the country and stuff like that. And I was going through OCD anxiety and like, it did it for me.
You have over 7 million streams across all platforms in your music because people are able to connect to you and your music. So tell me more about what motivates you to continue to put out these songs that are really authentic and that are really different than mainstream country.
I'd rather die than not do it? I mean I first moved to Nashville. I talk about this a lot, but, and if there's anybody in the audience that is like this, like when you first moved to Nashville to try to quote unquote, make it like you, you start off writing the things that you think people on music row want to hear. I can't give anyone stronger advice than to do the exact opposite of that. It is like what Ashley McBryde says, “Do what do it makes your heart is, gets set on fire and, and let her let the chips fall where they fall.” So like what motivates me to do it is like, I just, I just get joy.
I just get joy out of putting the honesty and the music and I want to do for people what Zac Brown Band and countless others, growing up for me, it was James Taylor. I didn't know what any of James Taylor's music meant. And I felt at home. What did that mean? What did you know, what did “Edge of Desire”by John Mayer mean to me as like a 12 year old? I don't know, but it, but it did something to me. And so my, I guess my point is, is like what motivates me is like, I aspire to be that for other people. I want somebody to come up to me and say, you're the reason why I'm in music. I’m telling you what, that doesn't happen, unless you're honest and you're in, unless you're putting out the real deal, you know what I'm saying?
I know the Covid 19 pandemic changed things a lot for artists. Is there something you were able to do because of the pandemic that you would like to see continue?
Slowing down! I was on the road for like two years straight where I was gone for, I don't know, like 200 dates a year. That was really exhausting. 2020 was like a blessing in disguise because I was gifted this piano number one. And number two. So I got to write on this piano for like the whole year and I feel like that changed the way I did writing. We've been doing writing on zoom and stuff as opposed to in-person and like I've weirdly come to really love that. So I would say, I would say slowing down and, and patience, like I'm so ready. I'm so Nashville's like a game of hurry up and wait a little bit. Slowing down, it’s really been a joy.
Who are some of your other favorite creatives in town?
Let’s just go down the line. My favorite, one of my favorite producers in town is Jay Joyce. He did all the Eric Church stuff for people that don't know. He did Miranda Lambert newest record, which I really enjoyed. He did Ashley McBride's newest record. He did Brandy Clark's newest record, which is dope if you haven't listened to that. Dope is the right word for that. Oh, it's so good. It's frustratingly good. She's so good. You know, and the brothers Osborne. I’m a big fan. I've opened for them a few times. And like, they put on one of my favorite shows, you know? So Jay Joyce is probably one of my favorite producers. Artists, let me think of somebody, you know you need, have you listened to Gabe Lee before? I’ve had his song. Everline just like, I'm going to name my daughter. Everline I think if I ever have a daughter, but golly.
I know that you just did something really near and dear to my heart,. You partnered with Habitat for Humanity, in honor of your new single “Handyman”. Why is getting back to your community, especially Nashville so important to you as an artist?
Well number one, I think like Nashville has been through the ringer over the past year. I guess it's been over a year now. Like there was the tornado, there was the pandemic and then there was the bomb. So it was like, man, what is, and then a ton of venues shutting down. So like, I mean, it's not like I've been able to go out on the road and make a bunch of money this year, but like I have been able to stay afloat and like, I'm just, I'm grateful. So I wanted to give back, you know, like I think when you've been, when you've been blessed, it's only a natural response to like, don't do that for others. You know, I think that's just a natural overflow. So and I also thought it was a neat way cause like it's really funny. I wrote the song, but I'm not so much a handyman. So my only goal, my only goal was to not destroy this woman's house, you know? And so she was so sweet. She was so sweet and we got to play, I got to play some songs for her and the crew at lunch and I actually helped, like, I like help the siding and I I mean I did some, I did some work. I feel like I actually helped. I am so blessed to do what I do here in Nashville!