It’s an unlikely start to a not-so-typical tale of country stardom: singer/songwriter Raleigh Keegan was born in a jail to a brave, selfless single mother and placed for adoption. “It ended up being the best case scenario – my parents are wonderful. I had an awesome childhood.” Raised outside of Cincinnati with a large extended family (11 aunts and uncles and nearly 50 cousins on just one side), Raleigh was the only member with any sort of musical inclination. “My birth father played guitar – that’s about all I know of where my talents come from.”
At the age of eight, Raleigh was introduced to piano. “My parents found a piano for free up in Michigan, so we drove up to get it. It barely fit in our minivan. It was super out of tune, but I played and played. My brother would get frustrated – it didn’t come as easily to him as it did me.” Though he took lessons that first year, Raleigh soon took to teaching himself. Around age 10, he picked up trombone and after years of practice, became first chair in the state of Ohio for jazz trombone.
As Raleigh’s love and involvement in music grew, so did his love and involvement in sports. “I was involved in everything – basketball, swim, football…” He played football for Georgetown College while earning a degree in Exercise Science. “The way that sports affected me as a person was significant – my tenacity, my willingness to work harder than anyone, the discipline involved – all came in handy in other areas of my life.” Raleigh balanced music and sports for the longest time. Still, his love for music far outweighed his love for sports. “There was a lack of desire to move forward in sports. That desire for music was always there.”
Around the same time, Raleigh’s career path into country began taking shape. “There was a brief time I thought I’d go into ministry. Then I heard Zac Brown Band’s album Uncaged and I was hooked – I listened to it for six months straight. There was something about it that allowed me to escape… That’s when I really fell for country music.” With his need to be great and “I’ll show them” mentality, he got to work learning guitar and writing. “I was a personal trainer at the time. I’d write every day during my lunch break.” His lunch break writes soon progressed to a full-time career in music. Playing gigs every weekend he’d booked himself, Raleigh’s fan base grew – so much so, he made the move to Nashville in November of 2017. “I’d sold my house to pay for my first record – I’d done everything I could from Lexington, Kentucky. It was time to move forward.”
He began writing, landing sessions with Jason Matthews (Luke Bryan, Billy Currington, Trace Adkins), Will Nance (George Strait, Brad Paisley, Joe Nichols) and more. Though he takes inspirational cues from Chris Stapleton, Eric Church, Billy Joel and Tom Petty, Raleigh keeps his sound as organic as possible. “I like a mix of old and new – I like to stay somewhere in the middle. Bringing elements of old and new country together, with a bit of soul.” These elements are best showcased on his latest single, “Lookin’ Like That” and his EP One of These Days, which released in January. “I don’t want to be a surface level writer. With the EP, it’s challenging mainstream country. I want my music to be a bit more authentic. With me, what you see is what you get. It’s not over-produced, it’s not under-produced. I’ve always just done what comes naturally to me. It’s who I am.”