“I knew I would meet my demons in prison and that one of us would die. I just didn’t know which one of us would walk out of there alive.” 

    For most of us, these would be very sobering thoughts, the kind of  thoughts that would scare a person straight and ready them for battle. But for JD Graham, well, his passion for long-lived self-  destruction outweighed any fear he might have had right before the cell bars slammed shut. His 25-year long drug addiction was an ironclad “shelter” he could take with him anywhere…or so he thought. Those demons that he would, in fact, meet wore many different faces and he came to recognize each one as soon as it reared its ugly head. It didn’t take long for Graham to realize during that waged war that there was another force fighting alongside him, and that he was going to slay them all. “My faith is what got me sober and keeps me sober. I was raised in a Christian church and I was always a believer, I just never surrendered. I was disciplined in the dark, not the light. Now, I have reprogrammed my brain on how I see life. I have healthy boundaries and an accurate moral inventory I take each day. That’s what God and prison did for me.”

    Graham grew up in Yukon, Oklahoma where he spent the first 30 years of his life developing his skills in hostility and perfected duplicity. An anxiety disorder at the age of 11 introduced him to the wonderful world of drugs when he was prescribed valium, and by age 15 he was raiding every medicine cabinet he could find. By 18 he was a bona fide seller skilled in the art of harvesting multiple doctor prescriptions, and in the scientific breakdown of exactly how much drugs his body could take each day. By young adulthood Graham was deep into his addiction as well as his angst, which he showcased through reckless living and slinging guitar in several death metal bands. In 2010 he morphed into a more southern rock and shared stages with Reckless Kelly, Stoney Larue, Cody Canada and The Departed, Jason Boland, Turnpike Troubadours,Shooter Jennings and Molly Hatchet. In true coming of age fashion, Graham met some new people and started going to shows and open mics. His introduction to bands/artists like Cross Canadian Ragweed, Brandon Jenkins and Jason Isbell started to calm the waters a bit by the sheer impact of the truth in theirwriting. Their willingness to lyrically “bare the soul” hit Graham deep, and that influence mixed with a lifetime of much needed confession cast its spell, and his inner songwriter was born.

    In 2007 Graham relocated to Arizona, and 10 years later a catastrophic car accident dealt him a 5-year prison sentence and a last chance to salvage his soul. Still the loyal addict, he pursued the score for drugs in the pen purchasing $500 in pills on his second day there, pills that were never delivered. Instead, Graham was delivered when some church folks visited him in his cell to ask about his music. He resolutely acknowledged that God was most definitely at work in his life, and at that point he made a
    decision to stop drugs forever. With only his refection staring back at him in a dark cell and his mind uncluttered for the first time in 25 years, Graham’s long burdened conscience began to speak, and by the time those confessions all had their say he had written 160 songs. His first ever sober writings, Graham made history at the Arizona State Prison when he was allowed to record his first album “Razor Wire Sunrise.” The title-track was the first song he wrote in prison inspired by the view from his cell each morning and all the decisions that got him there. By the time Graham walked out a free man 5 years later, he had left behind a deep impact on the community there in the form of a very successful music program he started that is still being taught today. With an actual curriculum and over $20,000 in donations, the program sparked a year and a half waiting list for classes.

    “I saw all this prison programming and cognitive behavior programs, but it wasn’t working to change people’s lives. When I started teaching music, I saw many of those guys find a sense of purpose. I saw music get guys off drugs and change their entire approach to their daily lives. Guys who walked around with their heads down not talking to anyone were now walking around with a smile and expressing themselves through music. Music is power. It forces you to get in touch with yourself because it’s so damn honest. I made life-long friends with a few chords on a guitar.”

    It’s 2023 and JD Graham is poised to officially enter his name into the songwriting annals with the release of his new album “Pound Of Rust” on June 23rd. Recorded at the Skinny Elephant in East Nashville and produced by Neilson Hubbard (Glen Phillips, Mary Gauthier, Kim Richey, Ben Glover, Amy Speace) and acclaimed songwriter Ryan Culwell, this spacious group of songs are the uninhibited testimony of a man with nothing left to lose. No bells and whistles, just Graham and his guitar, the album’s atmosphere is as raw as its telling captured in a live performance setting. The title-track is the hard taskmaster to which all the other songs fall into line. It’s a beast of a story that stares you down until you come to terms with your own accountability. The songs that follow are echoes of a well-worn soul who fought to have the right to see possibilities and experience reverence. “Letter From My Conscience” is the purest form of that sentiment and by far one of the most powerful songs in this collection. Song after song the listener is seized and silenced as the weight of Graham’s sincerity welcomes you into this hallowed chamber. JD is what you call a songwriter’s songwriter, a man who keeps a crowd hanging on his every word. “Pound Of Rust” is an actual lifetime in the making, and it encapsulates the full culmination of the man who stands before you today. JD continues to put his faith and trust in God and live life on life’s terms. He continues his path fueled by faith, redemption and sobriety, writing poignant songs about his journey both past and present.

    “My brother asked me what the goal was with my music and I told him connection, whether that was talking to someone struggling on a barstool after a show or telling my story through a song to a crowd of people and reaching a stranger’s heart. Human connection is all I want; I think it’s why we are all here”

    Website: https://thejdgraham.com

    Listen to JD on Spotify

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