Meet Josh Dorr, Country’s Unlikely Romantic
Josh Dorr remembers the first time he was stage-bitten. It was in college. He was a football player, sidelined by an injury, who'd just recently picked up guitar and a friend was putting on a talent show.
"I fought him on it for two weeks, and finally, he convinced me to do it," Dorr tells Taste of Country. "I got up there, and when I walked out on stage, he’d told me there was maybe 50 people there. I got out there and almost the entire school auditorium -- 500 to 1,000 people -- was almost full."
It didn't go well. The 'Save Your Breath' singer hadn't performed using a microphone before, so when sound began ping-ponging around the room, it freaked him out. He stopped halfway through the song and had to start over.
They’re like, ‘Right … but how are you gonna make money? What about school?’
"People clapped, probably out of sympathy," he recalls.
It'd be an understatement to say Dorr was nervous that day. Growing up he reveals he did everything he could to avoid being the center of attention. Speech and communication classes left him nauseated. He says if his 16-year-old self could see him now, it'd be a shock to his system.
The incident in college ended up being a good thing, he adds. The performance brought a surge of adrenaline he longed for since getting injured playing football. From there the story is familiar: He drops out, moves to Nashville and begins pounding the pavement. It's familiar, but no less interesting.
In 2010, the newest artist on RCA Nashville took an internship at Show Dog-Universal Records, the home of Toby Keith. "I was a master of IKEA," he jokes of those days spent pouring coffee, building office furniture and doing anything the staff needed. He didn't immediately begin performing or writing. In fact, his parents soon worried that he was wasting his life away -- typical for a first-generation troubadour. They were manual labor people, nine-to-fivers. He got another internship.
“They’re like, ‘Right … but how are you gonna make money? What about school?’”
There were no big breaks or "Ah-ha!" moments in the years that followed, although Dorr managed to make friends with the next generation of country stars. Brothers Osborne, Kacey Musgraves, Kree Harrison ... they all ran together.
"We used to all go to Hotel Indigo and play these little songwriter nights," he says. "Those were really comfortable and cool for me."
Slowly, steadily, Dorr began to find his voice. Songwriting came easy for him. He helped write three of the four songs on his debut EP and inked songs for TV shows like 'Open Pursuit' and 'Necessary Roughness.' Casey James' next album will also include a song of Dorr's. He's focused on 'Save Your Breath' -- one of the sexier songs of the last 12 months -- right now.
“Save your breath girl, you’re gonna need ‘em / Slide out of them jeans baby nice and slow,” he sings convincingly.
“I’ve always been drawn to love songs,” the Gillette, Wyo. native says. “I grew up listening to ‘90s country and a lot of Bryan Adams, and I’ve always been drawn to those kind of songs … It is a sexy song, but at the same time, it’s not in a distasteful way.”
George Strait, Garth Brooks and the Wallflowers (see Last Question) are some of his other influences. A performance video of Dorr singing 'Save Your Breath' was just released on Taste of Country. Check it out by clicking the button below.