Sturgill Simpson is an Amarivan country musician, who has written many popular country songs and has released four highly successful albums as a solo artist. Simpson’s albums have featured in US top charts and have also become successful in Europe. He is regarded by many as a breath of fresh air in the American country music scene, as someone who has revived the dying genre. While there have been talks of him shifting focus away from country music, he has always maintained his stance of sticking to the particular genre as long as he composes music. Simpson's musical style has many influences, and it does possess touches of ‘soul’ and ‘outlaw country’ music, genres which were very popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Sturgill Simpson believes in experiments in music and also encourages young musicians to try their own styles of country music. The much-decorated musician has won multiple awards in his career. He has won the 2015 Grammy Award for his third and most popular album, ‘A Sailor's Guide to Earth’. Besides music, Simpson is also interested in acting. He has appeared in three feature films and one television show as of 2019.
Childhood & Early Life
Sturgill Simpson was born on June 8, 1978, in Jackson, Kentucky. Simpson’s mother came from a family of coal miners where every male had worked in the industry as a coal miner until Sturgill Simpson became a musician. Simpson’s father was an undercover Kentucky State Police Trooper who worked for the narcotics department.
Simpson attended Woodford County High School. He went through a bad phase after his parents divorced when he was in the seventh grade. He also sold and consumed drugs while studying in high school for a brief time.
He enlisted in the US Navy right after his graduation. He spent three years with the navy and was posted on a warship for a while. He never had to face a battle but he did spend several days camped on different ports with the possibility of going to battle any day.
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Sturgill Simpson always had an interest in music and used to write songs. In 2004, he formed a band, ‘Sunday Valley’, with a few friends. The band used to make rock and country music. For a brief period, they performed in local festivals.
Simpson left music for a brief period. He took a job at the Salt Lake City railroad freight-shipping yard and later became a manager for the Union Pacific Railroad. After being persuaded by his wife and his friends, Simpson decided to make music again. He got back with the band in which he used to perform as a vocalist and a guitarist.
The band did many tours, performed at local gigs, and later released an album. However, it was disbanded in 2012 and Simpson decided to pursue a solo career in music.
On June 11, 2013, Simpson self-funded the release of his debut album ‘High Top Mountain’ which was produced by Dave Cobb. The album featured 12 tracks, including a few by Ray Cline, Ralph Stanley, and Steven Fromholz. The album peaked at number 11 on US Heatseekers Albums (Billboard) list. The track, ‘Life Ain't Fair and the World is Mean’, became one of the most popular tracks by Simpson.
Simpson started putting his own touches to country music, and his style became very popular in a short span. His second album, ‘Metamodern Sounds in Country Music’, was described as an unorthodox approach to traditional country music. It sold over 228 thousand copies in the United States and featured in the top 10 list of The Billboard charts for US country music.
His third album, titled ‘A Sailor's Guide to Earth’, was released in April 2016. The album received rave reviews from all over the world and made to the top of Billboard’s charts for US Rock, US Folk, and US Country music. The album won multiple awards, including the 2017 Grammy Award for the Best Country Album.
Simpson has also appeared in three feature films, ‘Orca Park’, ‘The Dead Don't Die’, and ‘Queen & Slim’, in his career. He has portrayed the character of ‘Ken Fry´ in the American thriller series ‘One Dollar’ as well.
The second album by Sturgill Simpson, titled ‘Metamodern Sounds in Country Music’, received positive reviews from many expert reviewers. ‘The Daily Telegraph’ gave it a five out of five-star rating, while AllMusic, ‘American Songwriter,’ ‘The Irish Times,’ and ‘Record Collector’ gave it a four out of five-star rating.
His single, ‘Turtles All the Way Down’, from the album ‘Metamodern Sounds in Country Music’ won Simpson the 2015 Song of the Year award from The Americana Music Honors & Awards.
Simpson lived up to his reputation of introducing a fresh approach to country music upon releasing his third album, ‘A Sailor's Guide to Earth’. The album told the story of a sailor and the emotions he feels while staying away from home during his time with the US Navy.
The inspiration for one of Simpson’s most successful works, the album ‘A Sailor's Guide to Earth,’ came from a letter his grandfather had left for his grandmother when he went to war. Simpson won a Grammy Award and an Americana Music Award for this album.
Family & Personal Life
Sturgill Simpson married Sarah Simpson in 2010; the couple has three children together. He has lived in Nashville since his band ‘Sunday Valley’ disbanded.