Singer-songwriter Kip Moore combines a raw and rustic voice with compelling lyrics of honesty to create a unique sound thats simultaneously hypnotic and edgy. His voice is weathered by lifes detours and disappointments and strengthened by his dreams and determination. His music is infused with relentless intensity, both of passion and frustration.
The boy who grew up daydreaming about life outside of the small town of Tifton, Ga., became a man who has been continually inspired by Bruce Springsteen and Kris Kristofferson to paint vivid portraits with his lyrics.
"I am not drawn to the fairytale kind of love," says Kip, who had a hand in writing every song on his debut album. "I am drawn to the real-life experiences between a woman and a man. I try to sing about the way it is, but yet at the same time, what you can hope for between a couple. I dont intend to paint of picture of what its really not."
His music powerfully captures some of the contradictions that he grapples with personally. Although hes from a large family and enjoys musical collaborations and performing onstage, hes an introvert who is often more comfortable being alone. "Theres a combativeness to the music too, a fight within," he says. "With Faith When I Fall, I know how bad I need that spiritual realm, but yet I find myself on this other end a lot of times."
Despite its edge, his music remains desperately optimistic. "I am hoping for what I have yet to become," he says. "I feel like its hopeful for what Ive yet reached, how I look forward to feeling, but I havent gotten there yet.
"I have truly lived my music to a sense, even the milestones I havent reached yet," he says. "I have been in those moments. Ive been at those crossroads with a girl: Are we going to take that next step? I look forward to taking that next step, but I havent wanted to yet. I look forward to being ready for that."
He was born in Tifton, near the Florida line, and was one of six children, the youngest boy who had three younger sisters. "You had to make your own fun, for sure," he says of Tifton. "I had a lot of time for daydreaming. It was a great town, but I dreamed about getting out. I do enjoy going back now."
His father was a golf pro and his mother was a painter who used anything handy for a canvas, whether it was cake plates or baby crates. She also taught piano and played the church organ. "I can remember sleeping in the pews," he recalls. "She would bring us blankets and give us a coloring book and wed sit there while she played."
Weekends were often spent driving to the beach with his father for fishing expeditions. "He would play a lot of Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, Bob Seger, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen," he says. "As early as I can remember, I always gravitated toward lyrics. Even when I hadnt lived enough to understand them, they still shaped me. "
During high school, he secretly began playing his brothers guitar because he was intimidated by the talent of his mother and older brother. "I would play when nobody was around, just figuring out stuff, watching his hands and trying to do the same thing."
He played point guard for Wallace States basketball team and also played on its golf team in Hanceville, Ala., for two years and then transferred to Valdolsta State University on a golf scholarship. He wrote songs daily and joined a band that performed throughout the South, providing him with all of his income. "I was one of those kinds who didnt know what I wanted to do with my life," he says. "I didnt know music was an option. Maybe it was one of those things where I didnt quite believe in myself enough."
Although he devoted every free moment to music during college, his parents still didnt know about his musical activities. "They were all shocked when they found out about it because they didnt know I could sing or play," he says.
After graduation and a short stint as a bartender on St. Simons Island, he moved to Hawaii on a whim with just a backpack, a surfboard and a friend. They slept on an airport bench the first night and then lucked into a hut that was $50 a month. They would walk or hitchhike the mile to the beach daily. After six months of this tropical paradise, Kip thought he had found his permanent home until his friend encouraged him to pursue songwriting as a living.
"I didnt know a whole lot about the world of songwriting," he says. "I just did it for my own enjoyment. We talked about Nashville and I ended up saying, Im going to give it a shot. I flew back home and told my folks. They thought I was crazy. Now theyll say different, that they knew all along."