Simba Jordan

Simba Jordan

 Columbus, Ohio, USA
BandCountry

Biography

Simba:

Perfect Timing for 2009s Music Row

 

By PHIL SWEETLAND

Music+Radio contributor

 

 

 

NASHVILLE Three of Simba Jordans high-school football teammates eventually reached the NFL, and for elite black prep athletes like Simba from the hometown of Ohio State University, thats not an unusual or an unreasonable career path.

 

But this highly charismatic and gifted vocalist instead turned south, to Nashvilles Music Row, to follow the far more unique path for an African-American male of Country music, a dream that until Capitol Nashvilles Darius Rucker lit up Country Radio and concert stages last year may have seemed almost impossible.

 

No more. Dariuss No. 1 Country single marked the first time a black star had reached the top spot since Charley Pride way back in 1987, so now Capitol Nashvilles rivals are looking for their own black Country breakthrough.

 

His mother was a jazz singer who worked the clubs around Columbus, but jazz never moved Simba as much as Motown, breakthrough R&B crossover artists like Prince, and early hip-hop stars like LL Cool J.

 

The music he loved most, though, was what he heard at his grandparents home when they watched TV shows like Hee Haw. It was Country, and when he discovered Randy Travis records, he felt right at home musically.

 

By that time Simba who was born with that name and was frequently teased about it until the movie The Lion King became a big hit was working at a Honda plant in a predominantly white area of Ohio. There was a guy working there who would sing a capella Country stuff, and all the girls would go crazy, Simba says.

 

Another friend had gone to school with Dwight Yoakam, so Simba began listening to Dwights early records. When a local Country nightclub offered cash prizes in a singing contest, he was ready to give it a shot.

 

So I bought a cheap cowboy hat and borrowed some boots, and entered it on the final day of the competition, Simba says. There were over 60 singers entered in the preliminary round, and they were all staring at me. But I just did my thing. I finished third and won some money.

 

Looking back now, he says: From that point on, I said, `I can do this!

 

In 2001 Simba came to the attention of Joe Diffie producer Lonnie Wilson, who has long been one of Nashvilles top session drummers and has won Music Row magazines Drummer of the Year prize four times.

 

Lonnie said, I totally understand the black Country thing. I like your stuff and your look. He sent Simba, who is not a songwriter, demos of several songs to consider recording. Simba cut three of them, including Hand-Me-Down Heart, which featured Diffie on background vocals.

 

Wilson shopped the demo in 2001 and 2002, and got lots of interest but few solid offers. I got a positive response, but nothing really came of it, Simba says.

 

That was then. This is now. The Row and Country Radio are completely different places now, as Simba found out during his first-ever visit to the Country Radio Seminar in March.

 

Hes been ready for years, and now it seems like the Row and Radio are finally ready for Simba Jordan.