Imagine working toward a dream for years, and suddenly its shiny possibilities are within your grasp. They're there, just around the corner, waiting for you to snap them up before you can step through a door to lead the life you've always wanted. But even the best and brightest dreams sometimes need a little grub stake to set them in motion when times are hard. That's how it was for singer/songwriter Matt King. He had long been aiming for a music career, and managed to land a job at Opryland after auditioning for the spot. Things were ready to open up for the North Carolina native, and the first step to achieving his dream was ready and waiting to be taken. Unfortunately, the shiny dream turned to ashes with the realization that he lacked the funds or resources to relocate. With King deep in debt, Opryland was farther away than ever. But like the hero of a good country music ballad -- armed with a good story, a lot of heart, and belief in his ability -- King forged on. He took another shot at his dream in 1994 when he was finally able to head to Nashville. His perseverance paid off. After making the rounds and singing at local nightspots, crafting demos, and trying to get a foot in the door, he found a believer in Gary Morris. The summer after he'd landed in Nashville, King auditioned for the bigwigs of Atlantic Records, thanks to Morris. The company soon signed him to a record deal, with Morris set to be his record producer. His audition on Music Row, rewarded by a nice contract, was a long way from the days when he couldn't afford to move to Opryland to take a job.
Music had always played an important part in the King family's lifestyle in Asheville, NC. Both of the singer/songwriter's parents had musical interests, in addition to holding down regular jobs. Mom Bernadette, who earned a paycheck in a real estate office, was a piano player who enjoyed gospel music. When he wasn't strumming a bluegrass tune on his guitar, dad Jerry supported the family with jobs as an auctioneer, a mason, and a barber. Together they were part of a bluegrass-gospel band and even recorded a bit. King and sibling Tanya, who grew up listening to nothing but gospel and bluegrass, often sang along with their parents to old Baptist numbers. By the age of six, music was so important to King that he was trying to craft his own songs and get them down on paper. He met Bill Monroe four years later, and the meeting made an indelible impression on his young mind. He started learning how to play the guitar, working on numbers like "Sweet Home Alabama." Music became even more important to King when his parents' marriage went bust in another three years. With his family divided, and not amicably, he learned to console himself with music. In his late teens, the future country singer became involved with a string of rock groups. None, however, would allow the guitar player to sing so much as a note, thanks to the inherent country-music quality of his voice, not to mention the twangy accent. Later, with a couple of albums under his belt, including the debut Five O'Clock Hero, that same twangy accent and country-music sound landed King on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. He also participated in a Johnny Russell tribute at the Opry alongside Earl Scruggs, Roy Clark, Ricky Skaggs, and Vince Gill. Also part of the tribute's lineup was Mac Wiseman, a bluegrass tenor who had been a particular favorite of King's dad, bringing the singer/songwriter full circle and back to his roots. ~ Linda Seida