Tyler Childers grew up in Lawrence County, Kentucky, with a father in the coal industry and a mother who worked as a nurse. As a boy, he sang for his Free Will Baptist Church congregation and learned a few chords on a guitar given to him by his grandfather. He absorbed the classic rock his father liked, along with country artists of the ‘80s, such as Alabama, Ricky Skaggs, and Hank Williams Jr. He started writing songs at 13 and occasionally played them for friends at parties. At 15, when his grandfather died, Childers turned to bluegrass as a way to remember him.
With this kind of musical versatility even as a teenager, Childers started pursuing weekend gigs, enabling him to get into local bars well before he turned 21. In 2011, he released an independent album, followed by a couple of live EPs, but it wasn’t until Purgatory in 2017 that he garnered international attention.
He graced the Main Stage at The Moonshiner’s Ball twice – last in 2017, just weeks before Purgatory was released. That year the festival was held in Irvine, just a few miles from the Estill County farm where he still lives today. He played a solo set, kicked back on a chair with an acoustic guitar, as comfortable on that big stage as he would be on his own front porch. The crowd, transfixed, understood what they were seeing – a star in the making, playing the kind of intimate show we’d likely never see again.
Just two years later, he would be nominated for his first Grammy.