Jake Owen Shares the Family Stories that Keep Him Going
To kick off the first episode of Southern Living's new podcast, I spoke with Jake Owen, who brings a little Florida sunshine to the world of country music, along with some great stories about making it big in Nashville. Owen is known for his high-energy performances and feel-good country songs like "Barefoot Blue Jean Night," his first number one hit. But after an extended period of sheltering in place at his farm outside Nashville—his longest stretch off the road in at least a decade—Owen has been in a more reflective mood. In this interview, Owen talked about the silver lining he's found during a year of frightening health news and canceled concerts. "I've gotta tell you, I haven't been this happy in 15 years, which is weird to say in a time like right now."
Get to Know Jake Owen
Jake Owen grew up on the east coast of Florida in Vero Beach and moved to Nashville in 2003. Two years later, he scored a record deal, leading to his first number one hit, "Barefoot Blue Jean Night." His most recent album, Greetings From Jake, was released in 2019, and you may have seen him as a judge on the USA Network's music competition series Real Country, alongside Shania Twain and Travis Tritt. You can count Sugarland, Little Big Town, Florida Georgia Line and Kenny Chesney as just some of the acts Jake has collaborated or toured with, in addition to hosting his own podcast from iHeartRadio, Good Company with Jake Owen.
What Jake Talks About in this Episode
- Growing up in Vero Beach, Florida
- His mother's love of Southern Living and his family roots in the South
- How he got his name
- His grandparents' love story
- His favorite family food memories
- How he got his start in music playing covers of country greats Alan Jackson and George Strait and how he got his first big break thanks to a bank teller
- Being able to share a once-in-a-lifetime golf experience with his father
- The unexpected blessing of time with family while sheltering in place
- His take on the meaning of patriotism
Quotes from Jake Owen
"My grandmother makes the best macaroni croquettes, which is a very Southern thing where you take macaroni and you make it, and then you put it in a Pyrex dish and chill it. And then you cut it into squares. And [then] you then dip the squares into a nice batter that you then fry in a cast iron skillet."
"My mom was Florida watermelon queen. So if that's not Southern, I don't know what is."
"Now that I've made it, and now that I realize everything that made me the guy that I am today is my hometown, I long to go back there. I miss it a lot."
"I wouldn't be here if it weren't for my grandfather hitchhiking from Lexington (Kentucky), getting off in Mumfordville, and randomly seeing my grandmother on a front porch and then starting to write her letters."
"My dad never saw how much his life lessons resonated with me as far as work ethic, morals, values, the things that make you into a successful man. And he taught me all of that, and I've always stored it away in my back pocket. I just needed to find the right thing where I could put all those lessons [to work], and I did that with music."
"When you can be home all the time like this, it has been a really big blessing for me, not only as a father, but also for my relationship with Erica."
"To me, patriotism is about loving your neighbor and being caring and understanding how together we can be better."
About Biscuits & Jam
In the South, talking about food is personal. It's a way of sharing your history, your family, your culture, and yourself. Each week Sid Evans, editor in chief of Southern Living, sits down with celebrity musicians to hear stories of how they grew up, what inspired them, and how they've been shaped by Southern culture. Sid takes us back to some of their most cherished memories and traditions, the family meals they still think about, and their favorite places to eat on the road.