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Born October 28, 1972, in Glen Dale, Marshall County, country musician Brad Paisley began playing music as a child. Encouraged by his grandfather, Warren Jarvis, Paisley by age eight was studying guitar with local musician Clarence ‘‘Hank’’ Goddard. Two years later Paisley fronted the C-Notes, a band of older musicians including Goddard. At age 14 Paisley became the youngest-ever regular cast member of the Jamboree USA radio show on Wheeling station WWVA. Remaining with that show for the next eight years, he also opened local concerts for such visiting country music acts as Little Jimmy Dickens, George Jones, and the Judds.

By the mid-1990s, Paisley had moved to Nashville, signed a songwriting contract with EMI Music Publishing, and made several demo recordings. Signing with Avista Records, he recorded his debut album, Who Needs Pictures (1999), which featured several of his own songs. The title song rose to the Top Ten on the country chart and another song, ‘‘He Didn’t Have to Be,’’ rose to number one. Many fans of traditional country music viewed Paisley as the most promising newcomer in mainstream country music. In 2000, the Academy of Country Music named Paisley ‘‘Top New Male Vocalist’’ and the Country Music Association gave him the Horizon Award.

Brad Paisley joined the Grand Ole Opry in 2001. By 2010, Paisley had amassed more than 60 awards, including three Grammys (one in 2008 and two in 2009). As of 2023, he has released 13 albums, including his latest, Son of the Mountains, and won 14 Academy of Country Music Awards, 14 Country Music Association Awards, and two American Music Awards. He has hosted or co-hosted the Country Music Association Awards television show 14 times. He is the co-author of two books: Jug Fishing for Greazy and Other Brad Paisley Fishing Stories (2003) with M. B. Roberts and Diary of a Player: How My Musical Heroes Made a Guitar Man Out of Me (2011) with David Wild.

Paisley is considered one of the most progressive country music artists performing today. In his 2013 album, Wheelhouse, he addressed several controversial issues, including racism, spousal abuse, Southern provincialism, and social activism. In 2018, he and his wife, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, in conjunction with Belmont University, opened a free referral-based grocery store for low-income people in Nashville.

Paisley played at President Barack Obama’s first inauguration and has performed at the White House twice. Paisley and his wife, actress and singer Kimberly Williams-Paisley, were married in 2003 and live in Franklin, Tennessee. They have two sons.

Paisley has maintained regular ties with his home state. He has performed at West Virginia University home football games, toured areas damaged during the 2016 flood, launched a worldwide fundraiser to help the flood victims, and, in August 2023, sang at the dedication of Kanawha County’s new Herbert Hoover High School—the former facilities were destroyed by the 2016 flood. In April 2023, he joined U.S. Senator Joe Manchin and others on a visit to war-torn Ukraine. He and Manchin posed for a photo presenting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with a WVU cap. Paisley’s song “Same Here” features a soundbite of Zelesnsky; proceeds from the song will benefit UNITED24, a fundraising initiative to assist in rebuilding Ukraine.

This Article was written by Ted Olson

Last Revised on August 21, 2023

Cite This Article

Olson, Ted "Brad Paisley." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 21 August 2023. Web. 24 May 2024.


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