As a child, Justin Ryan learned from and performed with Southern Gospel greats like Vestal Goodman. After his family abandoned him at 17, groundbreaking contemporary Christian songwriter Marsha Stevens-Pino (“Come To The Water (For Those Tears I Died)”) took him under her wing. As an in-demand Nashville session singer, he recorded with the likes of Porter Wagoner, George Jones, Lynn Anderson, LuLu Roman and Dottie Rambo. Now, with the release of his first mainstream country album, Justin Ryan steps out front to chart the course for where he’s going.
Produced by Music Row veteran Mark Moseley, Where I’m Goin’ features Justin backed by Music City’s finest players, from CMA Musician of the Year Brent Mason to Gaither Homecoming favorite Gordon Mote. While this group of songs may not be what you’d find on a typical country CD on the shelves of Wal-Mart, it’s not hard to believe this eclectic mix of styles and songs was hand-picked by a native of Paducah, Kentucky who’s made a name for himself in the church world.
“I did this country project, first of all, because the fans wanted me to, plus it’s a way for me to break out of my box a little bit. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m gonna come out wearing Porter Wagoner’s rhinestone suit that says ‘Hi’ on the inside lining though,” Justin adds with a laugh.
“Watchin’ Robin Like A Hawk,” “Backwards” and “Workin’ Man’s Weekend” all tip their proverbial hat to contemporary radio-friendly fare, while stone country tunes like “Everybody’s Talkin’” and “When The Vow Breaks” owe a debt of gratitude to classic icons like George & Tammy and Conway & Loretta.
“I thought it would be great to go back and do the kind of country music that Porter or someone in that era would’ve done. It’s definitely not in the vein of what you’d flip on the radio and hear on a country station today.”
“Lonely Comin’ Down” and “Love Pays It All” may lie at opposite ends of the emotional spectrum, but both commemorate Justin’s close relationship with the “Thin Man from West Plains.”
“Porter Wagoner really took an interest in me and made the time to make me feel like somebody important. I really got to know him and sang on some of his gospel stuff toward the end. We’d talk about different things and he’d ask my opinion and even take my advice sometimes. He was the person who discovered Dolly Parton, so as a relatively new singer in town, that really carried a lot of weight with me. When we first started talking about this project I knew we had to pay tribute to Porter, because he’s one of the main reasons I’m singing country music in the first place.”