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Jake Owen heading to Delaware County Fair in Manchester
Sports injury caused country star to swing in new career direction
A common denominator between sports and entertainment is the time spent honing your craft without an audience witnessing the work. It’s not surprising how many athletes cross over to music after suffering a career-ending injury.
Injuries ended Bret Young and Chris Lane’s baseball careers but each became a country singer/songwriter.
Jake Owen was on his way to a professional golf career. Owen, now 40, earned a golf scholarship at Florida State University when he was just 15.
“I put everything I had into golf,” Owen said by phone from Nashville. “That looked like it was going to be my future.”
If you go
What: Jake Owen
Where: Grandstand, Delaware County Fairgrounds, 200 E. Acers St., Manchester
When: 8:30 p.m. July 14, 2022
Tickets: $45 to $60, delawarecofair.com/copy-of-grandstand-events
Artist’s website: jakeowen.net/
Like many kids who have a promising future in sports, injury extinguished their dream. During his college years, Owen suffered a traumatic shoulder injury while wake boarding and was forced to quit golf.
“It was devastating,” he said. “My life changed dramatically.”
After undergoing reconstructive surgery, Owen picked up a guitar and found that music was his true calling. And when he relocated to Nashville, he told a bank teller that he was a singer/songwriter. He gave her a tape and she sent it to Warner/Chappell Music.
A deal wasn't signed, but contacts were made, and Owen eventually scored a deal with RCA Nashville in 2005. The following year, he had his first hit single, the anthemic “Yee Haw.”
“That was the start of something,” Owen said. “The amazing thing is that I ended up where I needed to be. I love making records and going on tour.”
Owen, who will perform July 14 at the Delaware County Fair in Manchester, is six albums in to his 15-year career. “Greetings From ... Jake Owen” is full of playful, wistful and at times, earnest songs.
It’s a solid follow-up to 2016’s “American Love,” which is a testament to Owen morphing from boy to man.
“Hopefully you grow up and mature,” Owen said. “I don't want to record the same kind of songs album after album. It makes it interesting to do different things. I think I’ve evolved as a recording artist and I’ve been fortunate, since my fans have come along with me.”
What Owen desires most is to have a long career.
“It’s been a great run so far, but I hope I can do this for many more years,” he said. “I look at people like Kenny Chesney and what’s remarkable to me is that he”s been at a high level for so many years.
“I hope to be doing this 20 years from now. I just want to grow and keep getting better at this craft. I'm thankful that I ended up on this path and I want to work as hard as I can to be the best that I can be.”
It’s interesting that Owen mentioned Chesney, since the country icon played some ball growing up and is a “grass is greener on the other side of the performance fence” type of person. A decade and a half ago, Chesney begged the late legendary hurler Roy Halladay to pitch to him on a Florida baseball field like it was the seventh game of the World Series. Halladay ignored Chesney.
“That was a dream of mine,” Chesney said. “It would have been amazing.”
However, Owen isn’t the same way. He doesn’t long to play on the links with a golf star. No injury is a blessing, but after Owen suffered his wake board mishap, it all fell into place for him.
“It's hard to imagine what would have happened if I didn’t pick up that guitar then,” he said. “What would have happened? Would I have ever ended up in music? Maybe things happen for a reason. But it shows you just because something terrible happens, that there are other things you can do in life.”