Fullbright performing at the Myriad Gardens in Oklahoma City, OK.
April 23, 1988 |
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, piano, harmonica|
|Labels||Blue Dirt Records|
|Associated acts||Turnpike Troubadours, Mike McClure Band|
John Fullbright (born April 23, 1988) is an American singer-songwriter from Okemah, Oklahoma. While still in high school, Fullbright performed at the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in Okemah. In 2009 he released the album Live at the Blue Door and three years later released his first studio album, From the Ground Up, which received a Grammy nomination in the category Best Americana Album. He has been the subject of two segments on NPR and was a 2012 winner of ASCAP Foundation's Harold Adamson Lyric Award.
Fullbright grew up on an 80-acre farm in Okemah, Oklahoma. He began playing the piano at age five and taking piano lessons at the age nine. Fullbright attended public school in Okemah, Oklahoma, and graduated from Okemah High School. While still in high school he performed in an Okemah restaurant using an amplifier borrowed from the school band and made his debut performance at the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival.
Fullbright briefly attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Oklahoma, but left college to work with musician Mike McClure. A year later, after appearing on McClure's 2008 release did7, Fullbright began his solo career.
Fullbright performed an Oklahoma City venue called The Blue Door for the first time in April 2008. Live at the Blue Door was recorded by Travis Linville on February 17, 2009, his fourth appearance at the venue, the night before he left for the 2009 Folk Alliance Conference in Memphis. The owner of the club later became Fullbright's manager. In 2012 Fullbright's performance at the SXSW was described as being "as perfect as if it were a Jonathan Demme concert film." In June, he played the main stage at the Kerrville Folk Festival and in July at the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival's Pastures of Plenty main stage. The music reviewer at No Depression wrote in her blog: "People who hadn’t heard Fullbright previously were stopped in their tracks by the brilliance of this 24-year-old whose mature lyrics have an immediate impact."
Fullbright's debut studio release From the Ground Up – released on May 8, 2012 – was recorded and mixed at 115 Recording in Norman, Oklahoma with producer/engineer Wes Sharon. The title of the release pays homage to the farmhouse where he grew up. Fullbright states: "Every song on this record was written in that house, and I was kind of written in that house." In the studio with his backing musicians, Fullbright was almost immediately captivated by what he was hearing. Although he initially thought he would leave the studio with a demo record, he says: "We got lost in it in those three hours we were recording. We all looked at each other and thought, ‘No, this is the record. It’s not going to get any better than this anywhere else." 
Favorable reviews include The Washington Times which said: "From the Ground Up proves to be a killer debut, pairing sharply worded stories that resonate with confident performances that pop." The album peaked at #10 on the Billboard Top Folk Albums chart for the week of June 9, 2012.
Fullbright performed at a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tribute concert honoring Chuck Berry on October 27, 2012. The concert – part of the Hall's American Music Masters Series – took place in Cleveland at the State Theater. Fullbright played keyboard and harmonica on "Downbound Train." In his review of the show for Cleveland Scene, Jeff Niesel wrote: "While the New York Dolls David Johansen and Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister brought star power to the show, it was little known Americana singer-pianist John Fullbright who really shined on his contribution, a moody rendition of "Downbound Train."
On December 5, 2012, From the Ground Up was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category Best Americana Album. Fullbright says that he was scrubbing his bathtub when he learned that From the Ground Up – which he says co-producer Wes Sharon refers to as "the little record that could" – had received a Grammy nomination. Fullbright performed "Gawd Above" at the Grammy Pre-Telecast show which was streamed live on the Grammy Awards website.
In early 2013, Fullbright toured the United Kingdom. His first performance in London was a sell-out show at The Slaughtered Lamb. In September 2013, Fullbright performed at the 12th Annual Americana Music Association awards show in Nashville, where he was a nominee in the Emerging Artist of the Year category. Also in 2013, "Gawd Above" was included on the soundtrack of the movie August: Osage County, the film based on Tracy Letts' play set in Oklahoma. The soundtrack also includes tracks from Eric Clapton, Bon Iver, Kings of Leon and Gustavo Santaolalla.
Fullbright's sophomore release Songs was released in May 2014. Within a week of its release, several favorable reviews appeared. In his review for The Wall Street Journal, Jim Fusilli wrote, "Songs is a warm, winning and plainspoken Americana album that builds on the authority and charm of From the Ground Up not by musical-muscle flexing, but by its clarity and simmering intensity." In her review for American Songwriter, Lynne Margolis wrote, "Neil Young was 24 when he released After the Gold Rush. Joni Mitchell recorded Blue at 27. Years from now, after it stands the test of time, John Fullbright's Songs could take its place in that same pantheon of hallowed musical masterpieces." In his review for the Los Angeles Times, Randy Lewis wrote, "The simplicity of the album's title is a harbinger of what it contains – songs impressively and potently economical, mostly stripped to the emotional essence through poetically concise lyrics and heart-rending musical settings." In her review for NPR's All Things Considered, Meredith Ochs wrote, "So what makes John Fulbright good enough to prompt comparisons to the likes of Townes Van Zandt. Maybe it's his voice, provocative and world weary beyond his years or his melodies that play gently and continuously in your head, long after his new album reaches the end. Or his spacious and sometimes unexpected arrangements that let the songs breathe on their own accord, like they do on this one."
Year Title Record Label 2014 Songs Blue Dirt Records 2012 From the Ground Up Blue Dirt Records 2009 Live at the Blue Door Blue Door Records
Awards and nominations
|2014||Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame||Rising Star Award||Won|
|2013||55th Grammy Awards||Best Americana Album – From the Ground Up||Nominated|
|Americana Music Association||Emerging Artist of the Year||Nominated|
|2012||ASCAP||Harold Adamson Lyric Award||Won|
- NPR Staff. John Fullbright: The Man (And Album) Written In Oklahoma. NPR's Weekend Edition, May 6, 2012.
- Tucker, Ken. John Fullbright: How To Connect 'From The Ground Up'. Fresh Air from WHYY, May 21, 2012.
- Philbrook, Erik. "Young Master of Unbridled Americana" John Fullbright Receives ASCAP Foundation Lyric Award. ASCAP website, June 26, 2012.
- Lewis, Randy. John Fullbright: Folk-rock straight outta Okemah. Los Angeles Times, May 3, 2012.
- Dillon, John and Nesbitt, Vivian. John Fullbright radio interview. Art of the Song: Creativity Radio. Show #401, broadcast week of September 3, 2012.
- Beal Jr., Jim. Fullbright hones folk chops. San Antonio Express-News, May 30, 2012.
- 8th Annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival. July 13–17, 2005. (Program booklet.)
- Wood, Arthur. John Fullbright: All the Way From Okemah, Oklahoma. Maverick Magazine, September/October 2012, Issue # 116, p. 56-7.
- Conner, Thomas. SXSW: John Fullbright comes of age. Archived April 17, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Chicago Sun-Times, March 14, 2012.
- Webb, Jela. Woody Guthrie Folk Festival (Okemah, Oklahoma July 11 –15, 2012). No Depression, July 20, 2012. Also published in Maverick Magazine, Nov.-Dec. 2012, Issue #117, p. 20.
- Reed, James. John Fullbright a young master of Americana. Boston Globe, June 10, 2012.
- Leahey, Andrew. Listening Station: John Fullbright. Washington Times, May 7, 2012.
- Folk Albums: Week of June 9, 2012. Billboard.com.
- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. American Music Masters Tribute Concert Honoring Chuck Berry. Archived October 20, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
- Doyle, Patrick. Chuck Berry Rocks Cleveland Tribute Concert. Rolling Stone, October 29, 2012.
- Niesel, Jeff. Concert Review and Slideshow: American Music Masters Series Tribute to Chuck Berry. Cleveland Scene, October 28, 2012.
- Grammy.com. 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards Nominees. Archived May 3, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. December 5, 2012.
- Parton, Chris. John Fullbright Takes the Little Record That Could to the Grammys. CMT Edge, February 5, 2013.
- McDonnell, Brandy. John Fullbright rocks the Grammys pre-telecast ceremony; Bonnie Raitt wins Best Americana Album. The Oklahoman, February 10, 2013.
- Chase Morrin.com. Invitation to ASCAP Foundation 17th Annual Awards Ceremony.[permanent dead link] December 12, 2012.
- Webb, Jela. John Fullbright, The Slaughtered Lamb, (London, UK. 2/4/13), No Depression, February 6, 2013.
- Americana Music Association website. Duos Own Americana's Biggest Night at 12th Annual Honors & Awards. Archived October 12, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. September 20, 2013.
- Lewis, Randy. John Fullbright aims to connect, uplift with 'Songs'. Los Angeles Times, May 28, 2014.
- Fusilli, Jim. John Fullbright Opens Up on 'Songs' Album. The Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2014.
- Margolis, Lynne. John Fullbright: Songs. American Songwriter, May 28, 2014.
- Ochs, Meredith. Fullbright's Sophomore Album Features Spacious, Confident Songs. All Things Considered, May 29, 2014.
- Mitchell, Murphy. John Fullbright receives Rising Star Award in Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. Tulsa World, June 28, 2014.
- McDonnell, Brandy. John Fullbright to perform TONIGHT on "The Late Show with David Letterman". The Oklahoman, August 28, 2014.