Josiah Whitley is an Ohio born singer-songwriter. Raised in the Appalachian Mountains in South Central Ohio, Whitley grew up steeped in the stories and sounds associated with traditional country, bluegrass and folk music. Obsessed with music as a child, he picked up the mandolin at the age of six and moved to the guitar at age twelve where he soon wrote his first song.
Whitley began taking songwriting seriously in his early twenties after a chance meeting with a hit songwriter in 2014. John Darin Rowsey, a songwriter for Daywind Music Publishing, heard some of Whitley’s songs at a Nashville Songwriters Association meeting in Whitley’s hometown of Portsmouth, Ohio. Rowsey suggested that Whitley strongly consider songwriting as a career. He took this advice to heart and began performing at open mics and venues around the Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia Tri-State area as a solo acoustic singer-songwriter.
Hard times fell on Whitley in 2016; he was living out of his car and had a job as a night shift custodian to try and make ends meet in between gigs. Fortunately, trouble didn’t last long. He was able to book and perform over 150 gigs and appearances that year based on his reputation as a performer and songwriter alone, not only effectively ending his homelessness but also allowing him to pursue music full-time. Since 2016 he has performed over 700 shows throughout hundreds of venues and towns in the South and Midwest, all of them self-booked. He has also released to date three full-length albums and two EP’s, one of which was recorded live on the prestigious Blue Plate Special radio show in Knoxville, TN, all of which were self-released projects.
In addition to live performances, Whitley has also had numerous television appearances throughout the Ohio and Kentucky area and has shared the stage with the likes of Earl Thomas Conley, Josh Thompson, Paul Colman, The Young Fables, Jason Wilber of John Prine, and country hit songwriter Rick Ferrell.
Whitley has a deceptively simple guitar playing style and a unique, yet direct vocal delivery that is attributed to his traditional roots such as Hank Williams Sr. and Bill Monroe. However, Whitley also cites Jeff Tweedy, John Prine, Bruce Springsteen, Keith Richards, and even the poet Shel Silverstein as lyrical influences. With lines such as, “he’s always stoned and wearing whiskey and rhinestones every night everywhere, “if Heaven ain’t got a railroad track hell I don’t wanna go,” and, “her mind is a kite that’s running out of sky and her heart is a loaded gun,” it’s easy to see the impression these influences have had. Josiah is not only known as a strong lyricist and a solid musician, but also for his passion for storytelling; which he employs liberally in and outside of his songs. His attention-grabbing tales and humorous banter in between songs is a staple in his live act, along with his trademark beard, black hat and rolled up jeans.
Whitley is still performing and writing. His next album The Wandering Boy is slated to begin production this year and is performing in venues that are allowing music during the current covid pandemic. You can listen to Josiah Whitley wherever digital music is available.