Twelve years ago today (Sept. 25, 2005) was a new beginning for Jake Owen: It was on that date that Owen signed with RCA Records and began working on his freshman album, Startin' With Me.

Born Joshua Ryan Owen, the country star dreamed of a career as a professional golfer long before he considered becoming a musician. But after winning his first tournament when he was just 15 years old, the Vero Beach, Fla., native severely injured his arm in a wakeboarding accident, thus ending his chances at playing golf for a living.

However, Owen can also credit his golf career-ending injury with helping him start his music career: While recovering, Owen taught himself to play guitar; he then began playing in bars near Florida State University, where he was attending college, in exchange for free food and beer. With only nine credits needed to graduate, Owen abandoned his studies for Nashville, where he began writing songs.

Owen first became known for his abilities as a songwriter. He landed a publishing deal before signing his recording contract with RCA Records.

“As far as me struggling in Nashville, I can’t say that I did that," Owen says. "A lot of singer-songwriters come to town and play all the honky-tonks and bars, hoping to meet someone and worrying and struggling. Mine’s not that story.

“For a long time, I tried not to really tell my story, because I felt like everybody thought, ‘Look at this lucky kid,'" he continues. "So I’ve always been a little hesitant to talk about that, even to be a little ashamed of it. Then I started thinking: This is my story. This is what I did, so I should be proud, not ashamed. Yes, I feel like I was very, very fortunate, but I am also extremely grateful that everything happened the way it did. I truly believe that everything always works out the way it is supposed to.”

Startin' With Me, which was released on July 25, 2006, spawned three Top 20 singles, including "Yee Haw," "Something About a Woman" and the title track, the latter of which peaked at No. 6. Owen co-wrote all of the songs on the record, which was produced by his good friend and frequent songwriter collaborator, Jimmy Ritchey.

While Owen had a relatively quick and easy rise to fame once he moved to Nashville, he acknowledges that all of his success is the result of one of the most difficult experiences he's ever endured.

“This scar that I have on my shoulder reminds me about the one dark time in my life,” he recalls. “It took that accident to make me realize that I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing. What I was supposed to be doing was something that fulfilled me. Music.”

Startin' With Me is available on Amazon and iTunes.

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