written by Kevin Max | photo by Pamela Littky
Mat Kearney was born in Eugene, played soccer at South Eugene High and again at Chico State University, a Division II program in California. It was there that he picked up his roommate’s guitar and distinguished himself as a talented crooner and balladeer.
The Oregon boy came out punching in 2004 with songs like “I Won’t Back Down” and “Undeniable.” He didn’t back down and, in 2006, he signed with Columbia Records and jumped into elite industry circles with “Nothin’ Left to Lose” and “All I Need,” a driving love song that found its way onto TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Now 32 years old and a Nashville regular, Kearney’s “Hey Mama” chronicles his courtship of a young woman who became his wife in 2010. That song is the hit single of his new album “Young Love,” which was released this fall. Oregon fans of Kearney’s live music, though, will be disappointed that the accompanying tour stays east of the Rockies. 1859 caught up with Kearney to talk about his Top 5 Eugene Memories.
1. Scoring the tying goal against North Bend in the state soccer quarterfinals
2. Watching The Daddies rock W.O.W. Hall in tenth grade
3. Visiting the Eugene Saturday Market
4. Getting arrested for spray-painting a mural on 30th Avenue
5. Watching Terrell Brandon lead the Ducks over Arizona at McArthur Court