Southern boys don't come any more homegrown and well-grounded than Loganville's own Jon Langston. A talented football player at Grayson High School, Langston graduated in 2009 and went on to Gardner-Webb University, where he played football and studied sociology.
A series of concussions eventually steered him away from football, but as the 26-year-old has been quoted as saying before, "God doesn't close a door without opening another."
The ruggedly handsome young man is certainly right on that point, as his reluctant exit from football paved the way to his being able to spend more time on his first love – music. Today, Langston is on a meteoric rise in the realm of country music. But as is true of most success stories, Jon's journey has spanned several years and a few unexpected twists and turns.
"I've always loved music, of all kinds. My all-time favorite band is the Eagles, and my absolute favorite song is Desperado," Langston said "I remember the first time I heard Alan Jackson, and I knew he was from Georgia. I loved his music, and I loved that he was so proud of where he came from."
Thinking back to when his interests turned to music during his middle school years at Loganville Christian Academy, Jon talked about moving from just listening to music, to actually playing it, even writing his own songs. "My friend Josh Manuel (now the drummer for the band "Issues") and I used to play in his garage. We'd jam out and write songs. In fact, the first time we played Forever Girl was in his garage. Forever Girl remains one of the most popular tracks of Langston's career.
While at Gardner-Webb, Langston made the tough decision to stop playing football because of repeated concussion injuries. "Because of that, I had a lot of time on my hands, and I turned to music again. I started writing songs (he thought up the first few lines of Forever Girl while sitting in class one day), and playing guitar. He started playing in coffee shops and other small venues. "My parents and friends had no idea I was so into it. I asked for some studio time for Christmas one year, and my parents couldn't understand why," Langston laughed. Then one day, he got a call from an event organizer at Kennesaw State University.
Langston marks the beginning of his professional music career with that phone call. He was asked to play at an event at which he opened for Chase Rice. "Pretty soon, I began to play the Georgia circuit, down at Georgia Southern, Valdosta State, Athens, pretty much anywhere I was asked to play, I played. Sometimes, it was for little or no money – maybe a bar tab, but that's all – but I was doing what I loved."
In no time at all, Langston found himself traveling more and attending class less; in fact, he said, "I missed too much class. I knew I wasn't moving back home; my parents weren't going to be too happy with me. So I packed everything I had and moved to Nashville. I knew four people when I moved there. It was scary," he said. But a couple of months later, Langston met singer/songwriter Rhett Akins. That meeting led to a publishing deal, and Akins began to mentor Langston concerning the music business and songwriting, in particular. Langston's notoriety rose, and the travel increased again. Only now, it included several states, not just Georgia. "I was playing a show, and Kerri Edwards was in the audience. She had heard about us, and that we were selling out shows, so she came to check us out for herself," Langston said. Edwards manages country music giants Luke Bryan and Cole Swindell, among others. "Now, I have the best team in the world, and we're doing it," he said. Langston plays to sold-out venues and in country music mega-shows Farm Tour and Down Home Tour. It's safe to say that this local boy has "made it," by anyone's standards, in one of the toughest businesses out there
To what does Langston attribute his meteoric rise and head-spinning success? His answer, not surprisingly, is a simple one. "I was more afraid of not trying, than I was of trying and failing." He couldn't imagine having the love and desire to play country music to audiences with that same love, but being too afraid to go out and make it happen. It's a profoundly wise mindset for such a young and unassuming man, but that's just part of what sets this young man apart.
Langston's newest single, Right Girl, Wrong Time, is available now on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora and other music streaming services. It seems he may have another hit on his hands with this one, so be sure to check it out.
Jon Langston was the headline artist at Grayson's Gimme Shelter Benefit Concert on Sat., June 10, 2017 in Grayson City Park.