Hits including “Somethin’ ‘Bout A Truck,” “Beer Money,” “Hey Pretty Girl” and “I’m To Blame” have earned Kip rave reviews from critics. His energetic live shows are quickly drawing a large and enthusiastic fan base.
Kip isn’t interested in depicting a fairy-tale kind of love. “I am drawn to the real-life experiences between a woman and a man. I try to sing about the way it is, but yet at the same time, what you can hope for between a couple. I don’t intend to paint a picture of what it’s really not.
“I have truly lived my music to a sense, even the milestones I haven’t reached yet,” he adds. “I have been in those moments. I’ve been at those crossroads with a girl: ‘Are we going to take that next step?’ I look forward to taking that next step, but I haven’t wanted to yet. I look forward to being ready for that.”
Kip was born in Tifton, Ga., near the Florida line, and was one of six children, the youngest boy who had three younger sisters. “You had to make your own fun, for sure,” he says of Tifton. “I had a lot of time for daydreaming. It was a great town, but I dreamed about getting out. I do enjoy going back now.”
His father was a golf pro and his mother was a painter who also taught piano and played the church organ. During high school, Kip began playing his brother’s guitar, but his focus largely remained on athletics. He played point guard for Wallace State’s basketball team and also played on its golf team in Hanceville, Ala., for two years and then transferred to Valdolsta State University on a golf scholarship. But music became a growing passion. He wrote songs daily and joined a band that performed throughout the South, providing him with all of his income.
After graduation, Kip moved to Hawaii on a whim with just a backpack, a surfboard and a friend. They slept on an airport bench the first night and then lucked into a hut that was $50 a month. After six months of this tropical paradise, Kip thought he had found his permanent home until his friend encouraged him to pursue songwriting as a living.
“I didn’t know a whole lot about the world of songwriting,” he says. “I just did it for my own enjoyment. We talked about Nashville and I ended up saying, ‘I’m going to give it a shot.’ I flew back home and told my folks. They thought I was crazy. Now they’ll say different, that they knew all along.”
Kip drove to Nashville on Jan. 1, 2004 in an old black Nissan truck that contained one bag and his guitar. He immersed himself in the songwriting community, observing songwriters’ rounds for two years and honing his craft before gaining the confidence to join in. After four years of performing locally, he caught the attention of Creative Artist Agency’s Marc Dennis, who called Universal Music Group Nashville’s Joe Fisher. Soon Kip was signed with MCA Nashville.
When Kip plays shows, he’s often asked for advice by aspiring songwriters. “Everybody’s experience is different, but I do believe it has to be the only thing,” he says. “I don’t think it can be a gray line. Either you want it and there’s nothing else or it’s not going to happen.”