Another country star on the rise will pay a visit to the State College area, as country singer-songwriter Jason Michael Carroll will perform at Levels Nightclub on Feb. 15. Last summer, Carroll released his first single in two years, “Close Enough,” which will be included on his forthcoming album release.
Growing up in Youngsville, North Carolina, Carroll was always listening to the radio and spending less time on his studies. As a kid, Carroll began to sing in his church choir but didn’t really know where to go beyond that point.
“I saw these families and evangelists and groups touring the country and playing their music, but I just didn’t know how to do it,” he said.
After graduating from high school, Carroll joined the Marine Corps, but it wasn’t until he came home that he discovered his calling in life; and it was all due to his love of the radio. In 2004, Carroll was encouraged by his mother to try out for a local radio station’s singing competition.
“After winning that show, a band in Durham said, ‘Hey we’re looking for a new lead singer. Are you interested?’ So that was the beginning of my jump toward where I’m at.”
After being discovered by Rusty Harmon, former manager for Hootie and the Blowfish, Carroll eventually signed to the Arista Nashville label and released his debut album “Waitin’ in the Country” in 2007. The album produced three Billboard top-40 country hits; his second album, 2008’s “Growing Up Is Getting Old,” spawned his fourth and fifth top-40 hits. In March 2011, Carroll released his third album, “Numbers,” which is sold exclusively through Cracker Barrel stores.
Carroll has opened for Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson and Trace Adkins, and cites George Strait and Garth Brooks as his main influences. But when it comes to his musical heroes, he thinks in terms of performance.
“I kind of put myself in the audience’s place when I go out on stage,” he said. “I don’t want to see a guy standing behind a microphone all night. I want to be entertained. I want to go and enjoy the show.”
As he finds himself where his life and career have taken him, Carroll realizes how fortunate he is to be able to entertain and inspire others.
“Being able to entertain folks is a gift, and I’m able to spread that gift around,” he said. “And also at the same time, knowing there are millions of people out there trying to do what I’m doing. I don’t want to take it for granted.”