Grayson Jenkins didn’t always want to be a musician. After being given a guitar by his mom when he was 14 and learning a handful of beginner chords, Jenkins set the instrument aside to focus on sports in high school. He didn’t dust off that guitar again until he moved from Greenville in Muhlenburg County to Lexington to enroll at UK in 2009.
Jenkins graduated in 2013 with a double major in agricultural economics and community and leadership development, and he went to work as a recruiter for the university’s admissions office.
But earlier this summer, Jenkins resigned to pursue music full time, a choice rife with uncertainty, but ultimately one he couldn’t pass up.
“I was at a point where I’m 26 and didn’t want to be 30 or 35 wondering why I never went full time as a musician, because I don’t have kids, I’m not married and I don’t have a lot of expenses,” he said. “So if there was ever a time to see it through, now is it.”
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I was at a point where I’m 26 and didn’t want to be 30 or 35 wondering why I never went full time as a musician because I don’t have kids, I’m not married and I don’t have a lot of expenses. So if there was ever a time to see it through, now is it.
Jenkins said anxiety about his decision creeps up, but the worst thing that could happen is that he goes back and gets a day job, which he says “wouldn’t feel like a failure to me” because he has his degree and work experience to fall back on.
Jenkins says his decision was made easier by Sundy Best, who he saw perform in bars around Lexington to a rabid fan base when he was a student.
“That gave me promise and hope that I could write songs and people would connect with them, because when you see people on TV, it seems so far away. When you can see someone doing it on a stage two miles from your house, it makes it a little more real.”
Jenkins’ decision came after he releasedhis second album, “Cityscapes & Countrysides.” Recorded locally at Sneak Attack, the album is the first to feature his backing band The Resolutions, comprised of Ryan Allen on guitar, Tyler Young on bass and Jesse Peters on drums.
Jenkins refers to his first album, “Down on Southland,” as “less of an album and more of a compilation of songs,” whereas “Cityscapes & Countrysides” songs tie together more, telling a story of changes and transitions in an artist’s life over the last handful of years as he moved from the country to the city.
“There’s a theme on the record of change and how it affects a person,” he said. “I had a lot of little shockwaves, like losing my mother and having a four-year relationship come to an end all in a short period of time, so the record is about change and how it can make you upset and depressed, but also how change can be good.”
Since he became a full-time musician, he has focused on performing more outside of Lexington, often solo, andwriting more. He took a recent getaway to Lake Michigan, seeking inspiration for new material.
“I had the weekend planned for a while, but that was when it really hit me, that I’m now a full-time musician,” Jenkins says. “A couple weeks in, it felt like a long vacation. But this trip was about a month after I left my job, so it felt very real, and a lot of the material I worked on from that weekend came from that head space.”