"Straight from Kentucky": Country music artist from Kentucky reflects on life in pandemic

Posted at 9:20 PM, Jun 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-25 21:23:40-04

TAYLORSVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — When J.D. Shelburne was featured on the cover of Kentucky's tourism guide in March 2020, things couldn't have looked better for his country music career. For months, the Kentucky native had been fielding calls and booking shows from Kentucky to Las Vegas, and everywhere in between.

"I was so overwhelmed with booking calls for about three months straight. I was like, 'How am I gonna do this one? Let's do that one, let's do this one."

But suddenly, J.D. didn't have to feel so overwhelmed. The pandemic pressed the pause button for J.D. and nearly all the musicians, producers and performers in Nashville. Festivals and fairs fell through. The future looked uncertain. While J.D. had saved and prepared for any kind of slow down, this was unprecedented.

"I'm losing gigs left and right, literally. I'd see the email with the subject line "Sorry, but we're canceling the gig."

JD Shelburne talks how COVID-19 impacted country music industry

But what's that they say about every dark cloud? First, a whole new audience found JD online.

"My fans were reaching out to me a lot like, 'Hey what are you doing? Hey we're bored, you should do Facebook lives.' So I started doing Facebook lives every night about 7 p.m. I did 60 to 70 and got over a million views."

Fans even starting tipping online. But the real silver lining was being at home during nearly all of his wife's pregnancy. They shared long walks, prepared healthy meals together then celebrated in September when their whole lives changed again, this time for the better.

JD Shelburne reflects on spending more time with family through COVID-19, new baby

"I can't tell you how many fans have sent him (Jax) mail. He has his own P.O. Box in Nashville. He gets more fan mail than I do. It's just been such a great change in our lives. We've lived a great life. But Jax has just been the icing on the cake," Shelburne said.

Now as things get back on track for the music industry and for JD, he wants to share those blessings. He'll play his new album, "Straight From Kentucky", in a free, family-friendly concert Saturday night in downtown Taylorsville. It will be the first time he has played his entire album with a full band, but not the last time J.D. plans to give back to his community, which is also ready to celebrate a rebound.

"What better place to do that than where I was born and raised, where I cut my teeth playing music, was on the town square when no one knew who I was," Shelburne said.

J.D. and his team are grateful that Covid restrictions were lifted on June 11, helping make this concert possible. Opening acts begin on Main Street in Taylorsville at 7:00 pm. The concert is free and open to anyone. There will be a food court for fans to enjoy.