Justin Moore and the Reba McEntire Factor

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After more than a decade of getting to know Justin Moore through music, it’s fair to say he is a true son of the American South. He is a straight talker with a manner of expression that can captivate the most casual listener, and if he weren’t touring on a Saturday night, he’d be at home in Arkansas with family because they are his everything.

“My label gets upset with me at times because I say that music is about fourth on my priority list,” Moore said as he settled into our CMT.com Q&A. “I love playing music and will always play music in whatever capacity I can. But God, my wife and my kids come way before that. I’ve probably missed out on some opportunities by not being in [Nashville] at times, and maybe awards, but I didn’t miss my daughter getting a double the other night to knock in the winning run. That’s more important to me.”

Fortunately, modern technology allows today’s music makers the opportunity to create songs over text if they wanted. But regardless of where music ranks on Moore’s priority list, every time he releases something new he shows a unique ability to connect with anyone who listens. He has that Reba McEntire factor where no matter what the trends are, he never compromises the intention behind his words, and it continues to show a growing need for country music that reflects country people. It’s a basic principle that builds longevity for the artists who want to last.

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Since he broke out 10 years ago with “Small Town USA,” Moore has had six No. 1s and nine Top 10 hits on Billboard’s country airplay chart. He won the ACM’s New Artist of the Year award in 2014, and he currently has another signature song out in his current single, “The Ones That Didn’t Make It Back Home.”

“It’s hard to believe that eight or nine years ago, we put out ‘If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away,’ and it was obviously a really big hit for us,” Moore said. “So, it was my goal to have another one of those because I don’t think we’ve had one since then … Before we play ‘If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away’ in concert and have done so for eight-nine years now, and I always end it by saying we’ll send this one out to the ones who didn’t make it back home. For whatever reason, it took me eight years to realize that would be a good song title.”

Available July 26, Moore’s latest album Late Nights and Longnecks showcases Moore at his vocal best and covers several perennial themes in country music including drinking, family and loss. He will perform “The Ones That Didn’t Make It Back Home” at 15th annual National Memorial Day Parade in Washington D.C. May 27.

Lauren Tingle is a Tennessean and storyteller who eats music for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When she’s not writing or rocking out, she enjoys yoga and getting lost in the great outdoors.