LUKE CUNNINGHAM singer/songwriter
At some point during a Luke Cunningham performance, the songwriter thanks the audience for their time by recalling an adage his father repeated to him as a child growing up in rural West Kentucky:
“My redneck old man always said,” begins Cunningham, “ that the most you can ever give someone is your time. So I’m grateful to each of you for giving me a lil’ bit of yours here tonight.”
The applause that follows is unforced.
That’s because the same honesty, graciousness and ‘good ole boy’ rancor you feel when Cunningham is onstage can also be felt throughout the breadth of the songwriter’s thirteen year career. Without gimmick nor damn given for passing trends, the Kentucky native is somehow naturally-believable; a trustworthy narrator engaging listeners via accessible emotion and songs ringing with authenticity.
What’s witnessed is ‘storytelling’ in its truest form.
As an independent artist/songwriter Luke Cunningham has spent years on the road touring alongside such nationally-renowned acts as The Fray, Avett Brothers, Donovan Frankenreiter, Pat Benatar and countless others. By the time he left college in 2003 he was already crisscrossing the country with his first band Part Time Heroes, cutting his teeth in a 15-passenger van and carving songs from the long nights and beer-soaked stages of the southeastern tour circuit. Yet it would ultimately be the release of the songwriter’s debut solo album Heart Pressure (2012) that first forced music fans and critics alike to sit up and take notice.
The emotionally-charged rock/Americana record and its ten story-driven songs were a swift and sweet sucker punch to the Carolina music scene; an artfully-crafted wake up call announcing both Cunningham’s arrival as an artist and his dedication to ‘the song.’ Hailed by press as “a triumph fraught with emotion” and “a welcomed reminder of what songwriters used to be” the response to Heart Pressure—along with his band’s energetic live performances—quickly left little question as to whether Cunningham was simply another flicker incapable of catching fire.
By year’s end, two songs from Heart Pressure (For The Best and Songs About California) were in permanent radio rotation throughout the Carolinas, having achieved the feat without label assistance or paid radio campaigns. The latter of the two tunes—a duet performed with Cary Ann Hearst of the Americana Award-Winning act Shovels & Rope—went on to become a top-requested song on Charleston SC’s 105.5FM The Bridge and the album itself named one of the ‘Top Five Albums of The Year’ by Charleston Scene Magazine.
Cunningham’s commitment to his craft didn’t go unnoticed either. Profiled in national publications such as American Songwriter Magazine and nominated ‘Songwriter of The Year’ by Charleston City Paper, he was also hand-picked the by ASCAP (American Society of Authors and Composers) to be one of just 14 nationally-selected songwriters for their prestigious Lester Sills Songwriters Workshop in Los Angeles. The experience would lead to multiple soundtrack and film placement opportunities for the South Carolina songsmith as well as the formation of his own self-ran/administrated music publishing company.
By 2015 it was clear Cunningham had found a devoted fan-base eager to hear more. That October he answered the battle cries for a follow up to Heart Pressure by entering the studio to record his latest EP Kentucky. Released in 2016, the six-song collection draws deeply from the wells of bygone country while retaining a faint taste of the modern rock sound and anthemic hooks Cunningham has come to be so well known for. Tipping its hat to the musical influences he grew up around in the rural tobacco fields of the Bluegrass State, the stories themselves—as well as Cunningham’s ability to spin a good yarn—leaves the listener personally-invested in each tale as it unfolds. The result is a sonically-masterful tightrope, traversing the genres of country, rock and Americana with both grace and grit; proof that—in the modern era of country music—one mustn’t abandon ‘substance’ for the sake of ‘style.’
Today Luke Cunningham resides in Nashville TN where he currently works as an independent commercial songwriter. Cowriting with up-and-coming country acts, collaborating with new artists and working alongside music supervisors and producers for various TV/film projects, Cunningham continues to occasionally tour and is a regular performer at writers-in-the-round events and music venues across Nashville.
His latest EP Kentucky is available on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon and other online music retail stores.