Jerrod Medulla's signature sound is filled with sweat, sex and a sultry southern drawl intensified with a bluesy guitar and set on fire with lyrics asking how bad do you want him to be.
But behind the slicked-back hair, pinstripe suits and smoke-filled spotlights is a quiet, honest guy with his heart on his sleeve. While his talent may have thrust him onstage, his personality - namely his humility - has kept him grounded and sincere, which is what drew him to music in the first place.
"I went through some difficult times and wrote about them in my songs so it could help out other people," he said. "That was the main reason I got into the music business - to show people that they aren't the only ones who have been through certain things in life."
Medulla began playing in small honky-tonk bars near Lubbock, playing waltzes and two-step-worthy tracks that kept the audience on their feet. He even took a stab at Bruce Springsteen's "I'm on Fire" and not only received some serious radio play, but his manager received a call from the Boss himself pronouncing Medulla's rendition as "one of the best he had ever heard," Medulla recounted sheepishly.
Springsteen wasn't the only one who wanted to hear more Medulla, radio stations across the state started playing his songs, stretching his stardom from the panhandle to the central Texas and beyond.
Fans across the state embraced his latest album, "Speak Easy," with a fervor Medulla couldn't have imagined. The album's first single, "Stay the Night," skyrocketed to No. 7 on the Texas Billboard chart shortly after its release, and his latest single, "Don't Say You Don't," has broken the Top 30 on the Texas Regional Radio charts, sitting pretty on the list for 12 straight weeks.
It has a little something for everyone with feel-good tracks like "Good on the Inside," co-written by friend and fellow singer-songwriter Chuck Allen Floyd. The song, which was written during some of Medulla's darker days when the artist couldn't seem to catch a break, celebrates the notion of finally feeling like oneself again.
"It's about getting past all the bad stuff and doing good in life," he said. "I couldn't get my feet underneath me, and I had to put music aside to pay off some bills. I was working my butt off just to catch a break and nothing was coming. But I came back, had a little money in my pocket and started booking gigs, and not too long after that I started feeling like myself again. I felt like I was heading in the right direction. 'I'm on Fire' hit not too long after that, and I was me again."
"The one thing I've learned is that you can want something so bad, and no matter how hard you push for it, if it's not where you're supposed to be, it's not going to happen," he said. "That's one thing the music business has really taught me - how to take the ride and make the most of it. You meet somebody out of the blue, you can look back and say if this, this and this didn't happen then I wouldn't have met them, or I wouldn't be here. You just keep busting your butt and you'll get where you're supposed to be."
Medulla's latest album can be purchased on iTunes. For information, visit reverbnation.com/jerrodmedulla.
By Marthe Stinton, email@example.com