Matt KennonMatt Kennon's self-titled debut album hits stores May 11, and the Georgia native with the distinctive voice is poised to place his stamp on country music.

Matt was introduced to the country scene with his stirring debut single/title track, 'The Call,' a partially autobiographical tune for the singer. His birth mother went to abort him but was two weeks too late, so she ended up having him and giving him up for adoption to a mother who had just lost three children in a horrible house fire.

"I saw a lot of pain growing up," says Matt. "I have been as low as a man can go at one point in my life, chasing dreams and putting it all on the line. Phone calls, friends and family kept me hanging in there. Secondly, my birth mother did not want to bring me in this world. So, yes, I would say I lived that song ... I'm doing okay for a guy who is not supposed to be here."

The tune, which tackles weighty issues such as suicide and abortion and encourages reaching out to the ones we love before it's too late, is proof Matt is a writing talent to be reckoned with. Randy Travis recognized that talent early on when he recorded one of Matt's songs, 'Turn It Around,' which helped Matt land a publishing deal. A chance meeting with the manager of one of his musical heroes, Travis Tritt, eventually led to a deal with James Stroud and Bamajam Records, and soon Matt was on his way in Nashville and recording his debut album. He describes a good deal of his debut CD simply as "life," saying it addresses things he's been through and storms he's weathered, and uses the rawness and emotion in his voice to convey those life experiences in true country fashion, honestly and sincerely.

Matt Kennon album"I don't want to sing about anything that I haven't been through," explains Matt, who went through his own rebellious stage as a kid and addresses that on the fast-paced 'Mama Raised the Hell Outta Me.' Chasing wine, whiskey, women and worse for a time, he came out the other side intact. "The good Lord's been watching out for me," Matt says. "I was raised in a Christian home. There was a rebellious side, but that upbringing stuck with me. I'm the prodigal son. I was living differently than the way I was raised. I'm a walking contradiction."

That contradiction strikes an interesting balance on the CD. Alternating between hell-raisers and rockers like 'Drive It Like You Stole It,' and 'Mama Raised the Hell Outta Me,' and ballads like the title track and 'That's Love,' Matt proves he can burn it down and then sift quietly and contemplatively through the ashes. Influenced heavily by the rock band Survivor as a child (his first concert was at 7 years old), having Survivor lead singer Jimi Jamison guest on the record was a thrill for Matt, who penned eight out of the album's 12 tracks. He feels the album is a good representation of who he is and of the country music he loves to make.

"It's country, but it's got a hint of rock 'n' roll mixed in. It's just good American music. There are still a lot of true stories yet to write about," Matt contends. "Country music to me equals the truth about life, love and God."

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