Prison-Born Raleigh Keegan Pitched Himself to Country Music's Center Stage

Raleigh Keegan has quite a story to tell, starting with being born in prison.

The 28-year-old singer/songwriter, who quit his job to pursue a music career and sold his house to pay for his first album, started life at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus. Adopted a few days later, Keegan praises the courage of his birth mother who was serving time for drug abuse.

"She is a real hero because she could have taken the easy way out but she had me, gave me up for adoption and I've had an awesome life," Keegan told PopCulture.com.

When they met two years ago, he said "it was like a scene from a movie."

"It's crazy because she looks just like me," Keegan added. " She said, 'I've been praying for you this whole time, I just wanted you to be OK.'"

Keegan grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and played football at Georgetown College in Kentucky, graduating with a degree in exercise science. He became a personal trainer, but that was just his job. Music was his calling.

"I would be thinking of organ solos in songs when I should be doing squat form," he said, "and so I knew I needed to quit that job and go after it. But it was hard because as soon as I quit, it was, 'I've got a mortgage, how do I provide money?'"

After starting his music career in Lexington, Kentucky, Keegan sold his house to pay for his first album One of These Days, which was released in January.

"If you want something bad enough you'll figure out how to do it," he said.

Working 16 hours a day, Keegan has built a large following and interaction with fans is music to his ears.

"They're really interactive with me on social media which is very fun for me," he said. "Nothing makes me happier than when I wake up and see 20 tweets of people that I get to reply to that like my music."

Using inspiration from artists like Zac Brown Band, Eric Church, Tom Petty and James Taylor — even Eminem — Keegan keeps his music organic, original and soulful. Hear more about his story and his music in the video above.

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You can catch Keegan on tour at these upcoming venues:

  • July 6: Wayland, Missouri at Game 6
  • July 19: Nashville, Tennessee at Ole Red
  • July 20: Indianapolis, Indiana on at Tin Roof
  • July 21: Lexington, Kentucky at Stagger Inn

Follow Keegan on Twitter and Instagram @raleighkeegan.