J. K. Coltrain is an award winning artist having been presented with the Texas CMA Entertainer and Best Country Album of The Year. He is also a member of Traditional Country Hall of Fame, Country Music Association, Academy of Country Music, Country Legends Association and Americana Music Association.
J.K.'s roots were in Gospel Music and at an early age of 11 years old, when he made his first appearance singing in church. By the age of 14, his first paying job was professionally singing with a well known Gospel Group, The Pleasant Hill Quartet at the Pleasant Hill Free Will Baptist Church. He also sang acapella with the choir in High School and played in local bands while growing up. Once he got the taste of performing, he never stopped. He especially loved listening to Bluegrass Gospel and groups like The Rambos.
The young Coltrain started to practice in the basement of his home playing drums, guitar and piano but his Mother soon moved him out and set up a room in the garage for him to continue practicing. Often times the Sheriff would come by and ask him to turn down the music, he would turn it down, but eventually he would gradually turn it back up, because, as a teenager, he thought louder was better. His parents had J.K.'s best interests at heart and they were also present, involved and helpful throughout his career. They preferred him playing Gospel music but they also understood that it didn't pay a lot and why J.K moved over to Country Music where he was able to make a living.
J.K.'s Mother, a Sunday school teacher, and his Father owned a Mom & Pop grocery store until the large supermarket chains started to appear. After the store closed, his Father drove truck and soon owned his own Auto Body & Paint shop. He also helped build the church they attended and there is a plaque on the wall of the church dedicated to his Father.
Another strong influence in J.K.'s life is from his Grandfather who lived until the age of 92. Spending much time in his youth hanging out on his Grandfather's dairy farm in West Virginia, he would spend the evenings listening to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio and sitting on the porch listening to his grandfather playing the banjo to Bluegrass Gospel songs, he also played guitar and piano. The Church his grandfather belonged to would not allow any instruments to be played inside, only singing but he and J.K.'s Uncle performed playing at other churches throughout the South.
In 1983, J.K helped form a Country Rock Group called the Southern Express and gained success opening for groups like Pure Prairie League, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Poco, and Marshall Tucker Band. Not long after, he left the band to pursue a solo career in Traditional Country Music.
J.K. Coltrain became good friends with Ernest Tubb and in 1984 Ernest helped him get his first Country record deal with Monument Records. He was in his 20's then and got to perform and even host shows at the Ernest Tubb's Midnight Jamboree. Here he had the opportunity to meet and play with a lot of the big stars. Ernest Tubb started to introduce J.K to the big stars like Minnie Pearl, Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn. J.K being brought up to greet people with formality, would walk up to the stars, shake their hands and introduce himself. This is something that wasn't done, one would wait until approached by the star. Ernest Tubb would say, this is J.K. Coltrain, He's got a big head but he's got a big heart too. Marty Robins once said when he saw J.K. “ Well here comes old Big Head”. When he met with Kris Kristofferson, he went to introduce himself and Kristofferson said, “ Yeah, boy, I know who your are”. J.K was so excited that he phoned his Mother to tell her that Kris Kristofferson knew who he was.
From 1982 to 1991, J.K. Coltrain had great success in his career with writing and playing Traditional Country Music until the music turned over to Country Pop. J.K would not change from the Traditional Country, the music he loved, and he felt that the music left him.
When J.K. Coltrain was about 17 years old, he had writtedn a beautiful Gospel song that has not been recorded yet, called, 'I Looked Up, I Knelt Down' and when this song is recorded, he will dedicate it to his Mother for her belief in him and her guidance in life and faith.
Throughout his 39 years in the Country Music field, J.K. Coltrain went full circle back to where he started with Gospel Music. He just completed his second Gospel Album called 'Songs Of Faith 11' with covers of Traditional Gospel songs he collected over the years. He is now at a stage in his life where he wants to be. For the short time J.K was on top with the major labels, but he was like a puppet being dictated and programmed as to what time to go to bed, when there is an interview, and just being told what you will be doing and /or playing. Now that he is an Independent artist, J.K Coltrain is owner and President of 'Colt Records Nashville' and 'Nashville Radio Promotions'. He feels a huge satisfaction in giving back all that he received by producing and promoting new up and coming young artists and after having learned from mistakes along the way, he is helping them to fulfill their dreams.
A piece of advice J.K would like to give to young aspiring artists is 'Don't Sweat The Small Stuff'', which is also the name his last song he released and is a writer on . Try to be stress free like the line, 'I don't know the answer, but I know who does'. Another line he once heard that he thinks is one of the greatest lines and good words to follow is, ' I know who holds tomorrow and I know who holds my hand'. J.K. Coltrain has three rules when you sign with him, 1. No Drugs, 2. No Booze and 3. No Egos. If you want to be in the music business, be in it for the love of it, follow your dreams because fame is a short and fleeting thing. You have to work at it if you want to succeed. If you are not in it for the love, you won't last too long.
It was a long journey in the music industry for J.K. Coltrain with lots of ups and downs. He has seen days when he lived on peanut butter sandwiches and being stranded in Wyoming with his band with no gas. He took a break where he served with Law Enforcement in the army and when he left the army, he served for a time as a police officer.
J.K. Coltrain's career went full circle from Gospel Music to Country Rock, Traditional Country and now back to Gospel Music. His best times are when he is in Church and sitting around campfires, playing and singing with his friends with his God given talents and for the love of the music, no money being made, just all about the music.
Be sure take time to listen to J.K. Coltrain's new Gospel album, 'Songs Of Faith 11' , drawing your heart and ears closer to God.
By Jacqueline Kellock