Working his way to the top

Southern soul music and work ethic are a winning combination for Andy Buckner

Fred McCormick

Many in the crowd that gathers to hear Andy Buckner July 30 at White Horse Black Mountain will be aware of his Madison County roots.

But many won't be know how hard the 23-year-old singer-songwriter has worked to get this far in his career.

"I've never had anything given to me," Buckner said in a recent interview. "Everything I've been able to accomplish up to this point has literally been because I've worked my (butt) off."

A Marshall native who said he makes "southern soul music that appeals to southern people," Buckner was introduced to music at an early age - his father sang at church.

"Music is in my blood," Buckner said. "Not only did my dad lead the singing in church, my mom is a songwriter and my grandfather is an old ballad singer. My first cousin is Josh Goforth, who is a Grammy-nominated fiddle player."

It was advice from Goforth that shaped Buckner's approach to making it in the music industry.

"He told me 'If you really want to be successful, write your own songs and learn how to play a bunch of instruments and not just one,'" Buckner said. "That way I would always have work."

That advice proved to be valuable for Buckner, who has managed to find plenty of work as a musician, playing in as many as 250 shows per year before appearing on the ninth season of "The Voice" in October 2015.

He is currently competing in the NASH Next 2016 competition, which gives aspiring country artists three challenges. For the first challenge, contestants were asked to submit an original song.

Andy Buckner will perform at 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 30 at the White Horse.

Buckner's "Lucky Guy" can be heard on The competition's local challenge will continue until Aug. 26, when three contestants will advance to the final round in September. The winner, who will be announced by Reba McEntire, will be chosen by the founder of Big Machine Label Group, Scott Borchetta, Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn and Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts.

Yet even with the exposure that he has generated in recent years, Buckner continues to play as many shows as he can while collaborating with other artists. He will be joined at the White Horse by Levi Lowery, who has opened for big names such as Clay Cook and the Zac Brown Band.

"Levi is a great songwriter," Buckner said. "He wrote 'Colder Weather' by the Zac Brown Band and a few of their other songs as well."

For Buckner, who sold out his April performance at White Horse Black Mountain, performing at the venue is a homecoming of sorts.

Andy Buckner plays a sold-out show at White Horse Black Mountain in April.

"The White Horse is really what I consider my hometown venue because (owner) Bob Hinkle has been instrumental in my career," Buckner said. "It's kind of the place that I got started, when Josh Goforth and David Holt were playing there one night, it was the first time I got up on stage and played when I was like 13."

Hard workin' man

Who: Andy Buckner 

Where:  White Horse Black Mountain

When: 8 p.m., July 30

Cost: $12 advance, $15 door