Judah & the Lion

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Judah & the Lion
J&TL Live.jpg
Judah & the Lion performing in 2017
Background information
OriginCookeville, Tennessee, U.S.[1]
Years active2011 (2011)–present[1]
  • Judah Akers
  • Brian Macdonald
  • Nate Zuercher
Past members
  • Spencer Cross

Judah & the Lion is an American alternative band from Nashville, Tennessee, that started in 2011. The band is made up of Judah Akers (vocals, guitar), Brian Macdonald (mandolin, vocals), and Nate Zuercher (banjo, vocals).


The original members of the band met while attending Belmont University in Nashville.[5] Lead singer, Judah Akers had written songs that he wanted to add more organic and acoustic sounds to and met Brian Macdonald and Nate Zuercher through classes and mutual friends.[5] While at Belmont, the band won Belmont's 2012 Christian Showcase and Best of the Best competitions.[6] Their first EP, First Fruits, was a Christian-worship collection, but the band knew that it did not want to exclude a wider audience and decided to stray from being strictly a Christian group.[5]


Sweet Tennessee (2013)[edit]

Judah & the Lion released their first EP, Sweet Tennessee, on April 16, 2013, and it charted on the Billboard charts on May 4, 2013. The placements were at No. 2 on the Bluegrass Albums, No. 9 on the Heatseekers Albums, and at No. 15 on the Folk Albums. In the Fall of 2013 and Spring of 2014, Judah & the Lion opened for Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors.

Kids These Days (2014)[edit]

Judah & the Lion released their debut full-length studio album, Kids These Days, on September 9, 2014; it entered Billboard's Heatseekers chart at No. 2 and the Folk Albums chart at No. 4 in its debut week. In addition, their single "Kickin' da Leaves" accumulated more than one hundred thousand streams in two weeks after release and made Spotify's Viral 50 Chart alongside Meghan Trainor, Fall Out Boy, Betty Who, and Karen O, among others.

During their touring schedule in support of Kids These Days, Judah & the Lion opened for Mat Kearney and Ben Rector. During their headlining tour, they performed for the first time in Sweden in 2015 and wrote a song for their fans titled "Stockholm".

Folk Hop n' Roll (2016)[edit]

Judah & the Lion released their second studio album, Folk Hop n' Roll, on March 4, 2016, putting them at number three on the Alternative New Artist Chart. The album reached No. 2 on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart, No. 7 on the Billboard Americana/Folk Albums chart, and No. 17 on the Billboard Independent Albums chart. In November 2016, Judah & the Lion released the Take It All Back 2.0 + Stockholm EP.

In December 2016/January 2017, Judah & the Lion's single, "Take It All Back", reached No. 19 on the Hot AC Chart and the No. 1 spot on Billboard's Alternative Songs chart for three consecutive weeks. The single was certified gold in September 2017 (over 500,000 copies sold).

Like Kids These Days, Folk Hop n' Roll was produced by Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton). Cobb recorded the songs in a series of quick takes, aiming for performances that sounded real and raw rather than polished and perfect. Everything was done in just two weeks. The goal was to fuel the album with the same electricity that fills the band's live shows. The songs on Folk Hop n' Roll incorporate fuzz bass, hip hop percussion and distorted banjo riffs.

"There's no boundaries," says frontman Judah Akers, who shares the band's lineup with drummer Spencer Cross, mandolin player Brian Macdonald, and banjo player Nate Zuercher. "We wanted to make something raw, something with attitude. We all grew up loving these hip hop beats, so why not make an album that has the grit of Run DMC or Beastie Boys, along with all the folk instruments that we play?"

In January 2017, Billboard magazine named Judah & the Lion their first "Chartbreaker" artist.[7] The same month, on January 12, 2017, the band made a late night appearance on the show Conan, hosted by Conan O'Brien.[8][better source needed]

Judah & the Lion toured extensively though the US in support of the Folk Hop n' Roll album including headlining shows throughout the country. The band also made festival appearances at Bonnaroo, SunFest and Hangout Fest and opened for Twenty One Pilots on their Emotional Roadshow Tour and select dates with Kaleo.[9]

Folk Hop n' Roll Deluxe (2017)[edit]

Inspired by how their genre - blending style was connecting with fans, Judah & the Lion headed back into the studio in early 2017 to record 4 brand new songs dubbed the Going to Mars Collection, which, when combined with Folk Hop N Roll, makeup Folk Hop N Roll Deluxe. On March 17, 2017, Folk Hop ‘N’ Roll Deluxe was released. The rebooted version of the album includes the band's string quartet arrangement of "Take It All Back," and the equally high energy and anthemic "Suit and Jacket" which peaked at No. 4 on the Alternative Radio charts.

"This record was made for the live show," Akers promises. "Our shows are all about the experience we share with our fans. We know that people work everyday jobs or go to school, and they're dealing with life, and yet they're still choosing to spend the night with us. We don't take that lightly. We give them an experience. We throw an absolute rage. And all the songs were made with that in mind. They're fun, carefree, and youthful, and we live our lives that way, too."

Anthemic and wildly creative, Folk Hop N Roll is unlike anything else in modern music. It's a rule - breaking record, with Judah & the Lion creating a sound that belongs entirely to them. From the earthy stomp of roots music to the bold bounce of hip-hop, Folk Hop N Roll casts a wide net, proof that Judah & the Lion - who are now four releases into their career - have developed quite the roar.

Judah & the Lion toured extensively though the US in support of the "Folk Hop N Roll Deluxe" album including sold out headlining shows throughout the US, Canada, and Europe. The band made festival numerous appearances including Music Midtown, Sloss Fest, Firefly, Forecastle, Governors Ball. The also opened for Incubus and Jimmy Eat World on the 8 Tour in the US as well as Kaleo's Express Tour in Europe TV appearances included the Late Late show with James Corden on March 14th, Good Morning America on June 5th, and Jimmy Kimmel Live on September 18th.

Pep Talks (2019)[edit]

The group released Pep Talks on May 3, 2019. The album's 17 songs explore difficult thematic elements such as divorce ("pictures feat. Kacey Musgraves") and alcoholism ("Queen Songs / human.") intermixed with tracks covering lighter topics such as "GoofBallerz" and "sportz."

On August 8, 2019, the band added an 18th song to the record titled "Let Go." which was simultaneously announced as ESPN's College Football Anthem[10] for the 2019 season.

TV appearances included Late Night with Seth Meyers on May 2, 2019[11], and Jimmy Kimmel Live! on March 19th, 2019[12]


Current members[1]

  • Judah Akers – guitar, lead vocals
  • Brian Macdonald – mandolin, backing vocals
  • Nate Zuercher – banjo, backing vocals



List of albums, with selected chart positions
Title Details Peak chart positions
Kids These Days 102 4[14] 2[15]
Folk Hop n' Roll/
Folk Hop n' Roll Deluxe Edition
  • Released: March 4, 2016
  • Label: Cletus the Van
  • Formats: CD, digital download, LP
7[16] 2[16] 4[16]
Pep Talks
  • Released: May 3, 2019[17]
  • Label: Cletus the Van
18 3

Extended plays[edit]

List of extended plays, with selected chart positions
Title Details Peak chart positions
Sweet Tennessee
  • Released: April 16, 2013
  • Label: Judah & the Lion
  • Formats: CD, digital download
2[18] 15[19] 9[19]


List of singles, with showing year released, peak chart positions and album name
Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications Album


"Rich Kids" 2014 Kids These Days
"Mason-Dixon Line"
"Graffiti Dreams" 2016 Folk Hop n' Roll
"Take It All Back" 1 6
"Suit and Jacket" 2017 4 16
"Going to Mars" 2018 17
"Over My Head"[23] 2019 10 30 Pep Talks
(featuring Kacey Musgraves)[24]
"Why Did You Run?" 11 22
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Nominated work Category Result Ref.
2018 iHeartRadio Music Awards Judah & the Lion Alternative Rock Artist of the Year Nominated [25]
Best New Artist Nominated
Best New Rock/Alternative Rock Artist Won


  1. ^ a b c d e Judah & the Lion (December 12, 2011). "Judah & the Lion - About". Facebook. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
  2. ^ Ruehl, Kim (July 2, 2013). "ABOUT TO BREAK: Judah and the Lion". The Bluegrass Situation. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Hamm, Josh (April 26, 2013). "Judah & The Lion - Sweet Tennessee". Indie Vision Music. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
  4. ^ http://www.onestowatch.com/artist/judah-and-the-lion
  5. ^ a b c "Nothing but Authenticity and Folk Hop: A Conversation with Judah & the Lion - Atwood Magazine". 2017-02-01. Retrieved 2018-09-20.
  6. ^ "Judah Akers: Lead vocalist and guitarist for Judah and the Lion | UCBJ - Upper Cumberland Business Journal". www.ucbjournal.com. Retrieved 2018-09-20.
  7. ^ "Chartbreaker: Judah & the Lion Talk Their Surprise Chart Hit & Opening for Twenty One Pilots". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-09-20.
  8. ^ Team Coco (2017-01-13). "Judah & The Lion "Take It All Back 2.0" 01/12/17 - CONAN on TBS". Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  9. ^ Desk, BWW News. "Judah & The Lion Announce 2017 Tour w/ Twenty One Pilots". Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  10. ^ "Judah & the Lion's "Let Go" Chosen as ESPN's New College Football Anthem for 2019-20 Season". ESPN Press Room U.S. 2019-08-07. Retrieved 2019-09-24.
  11. ^ Judah & the Lion: Over my head, retrieved 2019-09-24
  12. ^ "Jimmy Kimmel Live! | Judah and the Lion – Over My Head". ABC. Retrieved 2019-09-24.
  13. ^ "Judah & the Lion Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  14. ^ "Folk Music: Top Folk Albums | Billboard: Sep 27, 2014 | Billboard Chart Archive". Billboard.com. 2014-09-27. Retrieved 2015-04-04.
  15. ^ "Heatseeker Albums : Sep 27, 2014 | Billboard Chart Archive". Billboard.com. 2014-09-27. Retrieved 2015-04-04.
  16. ^ a b c "Folk Hop n' Roll - Judah & the Lion | Awards | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-05-31.
  17. ^ "Judah and the Lion Confirm New Album". WWYY. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
  18. ^ Billboard.biz (May 4, 2013). "Folk Albums : May 4, 2013". Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
  19. ^ a b Allmusic (2013). "Sweet Tennessee - Judah & the Lion : Awards". Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
  20. ^ "Judah & The Lion Chart History – Alternative Songs". Billboard. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  21. ^ "Judah & The Lion Chart History – Hot Rock Songs". Billboard. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  22. ^ "American single certifications – Judah and the Lion – Take It All Back". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  23. ^ "Judah & the Lion Drops New Single OVER MY HEAD". Broadway World. January 11, 2019. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  24. ^ Berenson, Sam. "Judah & The Lion Release New Single 'Pictures' With Kacey Musgraves". LiveForLiveMusic. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
  25. ^ "2018 iHeartRadio Music Awards: See The Full List of Nominee". iHeartRadio. January 10, 2018. Retrieved January 10, 2018.

External links[edit]