Jordan Brooker is sitting in his truck in Nashville taking a break from shooting two music videos.
“Things have been a little nuts, but it's good,” he tells me by phone last week.
The 26-year-old country singer, who grew up about 20 miles northeast of Fort Wayne in the DeKalb County town of Spencerville, is living a bit of the dream life of any Nashville transplant.
He was discovered by a Grammy-winning music producer, signed with an agency, has released two singles, is getting radio play and will drop a six-song EP on Friday.
Add in that he just got back from his honeymoon and things seem to be looking bright.
His wife, Ashley Satto, co-wrote one of his songs, “Sounds Like You.”
Speaking with Jordan's father a few days earlier, it is obvious Brian Brooker is proud, and not just of Jordan. He lists the accomplishments of his other children, Matt, Rebecca and Josh, but gives most of the credit for how they turned out to his wife, Teresa.
The family moved around a bit before settling in Spencerville. Jordan was born in Florida, and they lived in Pennsylvania before coming to Indiana when he was still young.
“I really did all the important growing-up years of your life, all that sort of coming-of-age stuff – that all happened for me in Indiana,” says Jordan, who adds that he thinks of himself as a Hoosier through and through.
He calls his father a superfan and says Brian has “gone next level with the music stuff.”
After Jordan dropped out of college and moved home, it was Brian who helped Jordan form his first band in the area and drove around their equipment to gigs. The band, performing under Jordan's name, played with some area country staples such as Gunslinger and Renegade.
Jordan is also grateful to the owner of the Neon Armadillo, a former music venue on Lima Road, who often gave his band opening slots.
Support like that, both here at home and in Nashville, is something Brian says he is grateful for. It has also been fun to hear comments from people about Jordan's music.
He knows people like his son's voice, but there's another kind of response Brian likes to hear about Jordan.
“The feedback I get that I appreciate the most is how people say what a nice guy he his,” Brian says.
“I think he is really going to represent Spencerville very well as time comes along and his platform becomes larger.”
Jordan talked with The Journal Gazette about growing up in Indiana, how he was discovered online and what he puts into his music.
The conversation has been edited.
Your dad said there wasn't a lot of country music in the house when you were young, so where did you discover it?
Some of my earliest memories were country because my mom used to listen to the country station in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. Whenever we would drive anywhere, we always had it on the country station. I remember hearing Alan Jackson and Rhett Akins.
You develop your own musical tastes around 13 or 14 and I didn't hear a lot of country music when I was that age. I would listen to a lot of alternative rock – basically anything my brothers were listening to, I was listening to because I wanted to be cool like my older brothers. (laughs)
But when I was 16 or 17, I was scanning radio stations in my bedroom and I remember hearing Dierks Bentley – I think it was “What Was I Thinkin' ” – and remember hearing his voice and really liking whatever that was. That was my reintroduction back to country.
The journey you're on now in Nashville sort of started with being discovered doing a Dierks Bentley cover.
It's crazy how it all happened. After I dropped out of college, I was living in Evansville working landscaping and playing weekend gigs. I was throwing up cover videos on YouTube.
There's this Dierks record, “Home,” which came out in 2012. I stayed up and went and bought the record back when you used to go buy CDs. I listened to the whole thing and loved the last song on the record, so I did a cover video of it and put it up on YouTube.
Luke Wooten, who is my producer now, actually found the video of me because he was searching for a video of Dierks singing the song with his daughter at the album release party. He found the video and there I was in the suggested videos column next to it on YouTube.
After he found it, he hit me up through Facebook because that was the only way he could find me, and I thought it was complete BS. (laughs) I was like “Somebody's about to ask me for money” or whatever, so I kind of ignored it. He fired back another message at me a little while later to say he was really interested in what I was doing.
So I called him, and sure enough it was legit and I ended up coming down to Nashville to check out the studio and it's kind of history from there.
He sort of helped lay the groundwork for me to start playing shows and eventually move down here and start writing songs.
There are people who go to Nashville with dreams of making it big and never even get as far as releasing an EP. What is it about your sound or yourself that you think people are responding to?
I tread lightly when I talk about that just because I don't want to make anyone think that I think I'm anything special.
I love what I do, and I try and make it as authentic as possible.
But honestly, I think that's the biggest thing right now is just making it something that feels like a real person singing something they really believe in or they really want to talk about.
We're in an age of overly produced, electronic – I guess “bro-country” may be the popular term for it – but a lot of it just seems like maybe it's a little devoid of emotion or just not as much thought put into it.
Part of the reason I fell in love with music was the ability to convey that emotion you feel that somebody else feels, and they can connect with that in the song regardless of what the minor details of the song are. I think a great song conveys one emotion really well and I think there's just some of that missing from a lot of the more mainstream stuff. So I think people are responding because it seems believable because it's real.
What it really boils down to is, I just care a lot about the music that I make and so I think that maybe comes across when people listen to it.
So what will people find when they listen to the EP?
They'll find, hopefully, six songs that say something different but something they can relate to.
It's funny, you move down to Nashville thinking “somebody give me a record deal and let's get this thing started,” and then you realize very quickly, “I'm not ready for any of that.”
I think the songs on the EP, if you listen closely, are a lot of me figuring myself out in these past four years that I've been here. I've been developing this artistry and finding this musical identity and writing songs while I'm doing it.
I think you can hear a lot of that coming through in the EP – maybe a little bit of a journey of self-discovery and hopefully songs that are just easy to listen to and people enjoy them.