Jordan Rager has kicked off his Country music career with a bang. The Broken Bow recording artist watched proudly as his debut single, “Southern Boy,” exploded onto the marketplace with 53 first-week adds from radio stations nationwide. That would be a staggering number for an established artist in the format – let alone a newcomer on his very first single.
“They really jumped on board really quick,” he tells Sounds Like Nashville about his first week on the airwaves. :I can’t thank them enough. I’ve met a lot of great friends out on the radio tour. I’m still kind of pinching myself,” he says, adding that just having a record out is a dream come true. “It’s surreal. It’s not one of those things that I ever thought I was going to get to do. I never thought I would be signed with a label like BBR, or a label at all, to be honest with you. It’s all been really cool.”
“Southern Boy” strikes an emotional chord for both Rager and each fan that hears the song. The composition tells the real-life story of a Georgia teenager named Cameron, who lived not far from where the singer grew up in Loganville. Diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of fifteen, songwriters Jeremy Stover, Luke Laird and Barry Dean wrote it as a tribute to the teenager’s fight.
“The song was written about how he was before he got sick. The way the writers put it to me was that he was a good old southern boy before and after he got sick, and nothing changed. He still went on and lived his life. He was never down on himself or afraid – any of that. If he was, he didn’t show it. That really spoke to me because I have my days that I complain about things, and here’s this kid who’s dying, and he just wants to live his life like a regular kid – hang out with his buddies, and chase women around in the truck – all the things kids do. It really touched me on a personal level as a story that needs to be heard. I’m very honored to have it out as my first single.”
Cameron succumbed to the disease in December 2013, but “Southern Boy” has continued his legacy, much to his family’s delight. “They’ve been really moved by it,” Rager said. “I’ve gotten to know his mother really well over the past couple of years, and she constantly thanks me. It’s one of those things where I wish he was still here, and we didn’t have to be talking about this, but I’m glad to carry his story forward with this song. It means the world to me to be that messenger.”
The story took an even more dramatic turn when Jason Aldean – one of Rager’s supporters – came on board, adding his vocals to the song. “He heard the song randomly. He’s been a supporter of mine since day one, and he said the song would be a really cool thing to do as a duet, and he asked me what I thought about it. I said ‘I might be willing to do that. I thought for about four whole seconds – with three of them being me processing what I had just heard. That made the song even more special when he asked to be a part of it. I loved how it all came together.”
The singer, who counts Alan Jackson and The Eagles among his biggest influences, says he’s just about finished with his debut album. “We’re almost done with it. Hopefully, we’ll have it out this year. We’re still going to cut a couple more songs.” Making the creative process all the more fun is the fact that he has gotten to write with some of the top tunesmiths in the business. “I’ve been blessed to get to write with a lot of great co-writers. To be able to sit down with writers that wrote songs I grew up listening to, it’s very crazy. I’m just very blessed.”
Music has been a driving factor in Rager’s life from an early age. “I started playing music back when I was about fourteen,” he recalled. “I had been playing baseball, and did both for a couple of years, but by age sixteen I decided to get real serious about it. I started going to Nashville, meeting people, and writing songs. I just never looked back. It was something I wanted to do, but just never sure how to go about doing it. There’s no set formula to get to where you want to be. You’ve just got to pave your own way. That’s what you’ve gotta do.” And, needless to say, he’s going to ride the career train as far as it goes. “I’m very excited about everything right now. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”