It doesn’t matter if it’s the Grand Ole Opry, where Joshua Ray Walker has performed twice, or a small club, the country crooner still gets stage fright.
Walker anticipates his nerves will always be present before he performs, but they haven’t been a roadblock to the rising star’s success.
The 32-year-old Dallas native has written and recorded three albums and played on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” He is criss-crossing the country on tour and will perform as part of the PBR World Finals concert series May 13 in Fort Worth’s Stockyards.
“I’m excited to be playing the Stockyards, to come back to Fort Worth and be part of the PBR showcase,” he said. “It’s not a hometown show, but it’s pretty darn close.”
If you go
What: Joshua Ray Walker’s performance in the PBR World Finals concert series
When: 4:30 p.m. Saturday, May 13
Where: Tractor Supply Co. Stage in the Fort Worth Stockyards
Admission: Free. More info here.
He has played guitar since he was 6 and performed in punk and metal bands when he got older, but never volunteered for solos in choir or at church.
For Walker, performing in front of friends, family and those he was closest to felt scarier than performing in front of strangers.
“I wouldn’t sing in front of my family. I’d wait till everybody was at work or, you know, a lot of times I actually wrote my car,” he said.
Sitting on the extra long bench seat in the back of his 1982 Crown Victoria, he still didn’t consider himself a singer, nor was he thinking about creating country music.
But when he eventually shared the song “Fondly” with a friend, they heard the connection immediately.
“One of my friends was like, ‘Oh, that’s cool … you’re writing country music.’ And I was like, ‘No, I’m not.’ Because at the time, I wasn’t even really listening to country music,” he said.
“I wrote like one or two more songs, and they also sounded like country music. I realized my voice was taking me down that path. And so I just kind of went with it. Once I started writing country songs, all the songs started coming out more freely,” Walker said.
He builds freedom into his shows by forgoing a predetermined set list and deciding what songs to play next on stage.
In Fort Worth, he anticipates that he’ll pull favorites from all three of the albums in his catalog and promises to start off with something that will catch people’s attention.
Walker already has several hits to choose from and plans to keep growing that collection for as long as he can.
“As far as what the future holds, I’m 15 or 20 years in now. I don’t really have a backup plan,” he said. “I plan on putting out more records, and this is hopefully what I do for the rest of my life.”
Marcheta Fornoff covers the arts for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at email@example.com or on Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.