Growing up in rural Kentucky, about 45 minutes from Nashville, but now somewhat of fish out of water living in Los Angeles, Michael Monroe Goodman’s roots run deep in the Americana soil. “We knew about life, maybe more than city people,” he says. “I’m proud of my home state of Kentucky. You need that strand of where you’re from or you don’t have an anchor. At its heart, country’s a state of mind, not a location.”
Michael’s country state of mind began developing even before he was born. His parents were friends with his middle-namesake, the legendary Bill Monroe, who approved of the name choice. “They were backstage probably once a month or something at the Opry with Bill…and after I was born, we’d go there when I was a baby…I just kind of soaked it all in for the first three years of my life… After that I’d see Bill at festivals and stuff, with my dad on the weekends. So, I grew up around Bill, but I had no idea, as a kid, who Bill Monroe was, as a legend, as a pioneer. To me he was just like ‘Uncle Bill’.”
Growing up, Michael always made country music his priority, ever since playing his first professional gig at the age of 15, on Live at Libby’s in Maysville, Kentucky. “I’d been writing songs for a couple of years by then,” he recalls, “and this show had hosted quite a few ‘90s stars before they were famous. I auditioned on the Friday night, did one song. They liked me and I performed on the radio from there the next night. I did that show a few more times and I knew my heart was set on country music. It was my voice. Right out of high school I joined a band and started really learning my craft.”
When it came time to stake out his own claim in the country music scene, Michael found that going by only his first and last name wasn’t enough to set him apart from the crowd. “When I put out my Unbreakable Heart album back in 2015…I kinda found there were way too many Michael Goodmans in the world…Some people said, ‘Why don’t you go by your full name?’” Along with the uniqueness of the three-name configuration, Michael adds, “It’s kind of wearing a badge of where I came from.”
Michael’s fourth and latest release is When the Rain Came, which features his signature blend of country, rockabilly and bluegrass.
By Dan Walsh