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Clarksburg native Billy Jack brings his original music home

Clarksburg native Billy Jack brings his original music home

September 13th, 2017 by Michelle Brooks in Local News

Clarksburg-native Billy Jack Purnell will perform at the Ozark Ham and Turkey Festival south stage Sept. 16, 2017.

It's been four years since Billy Jack Purnell has played for a hometown crowd.

Since that 2013 show at Robbie D's, where loyal fans were singing his original songs louder that he was, the Clarksburg singer/songwriter has taken his work on a musical rollercoaster.

He's looking forward to performing at the south stage of the Ozark Ham and Turkey Festival Sept. 16.

"It's the first opportunity I've had to play at home in a few years and I expect it to be a great show," Purnell said. "I can't count the fests I've been to growing up and I would always go for the live music."

"I always wanted to play the fest and now couldn't be a better time for me. The music is at a point it's never been and I've gained a lot of fans since the Jefferson City Jaycees Fair last month, when I performed, sharing the night with Thompson Square."

A couple of years ago, Purnell was selected as a finalist in an artist-discovery project by Nashville, Tennessee, based Tunesmith Entertainment. He and a handful of other music hopefuls were told they would be connected with a network of industry professionals to foster and further their careers, Purnell said.

"After being selected and creating a profile page on Tunesmith's site, nothing more ever came of it," he said. "Myself and other artists I spoke to all were left with high hopes and no direction, nor pay off."

In June 2015, Purnell played the Country Fan Jam, a revival of the former Fan Fair, held in conjunction with the Country Music Association festival. He was selected from a myriad of up-and-coming artists across the nation, based on an original song he submitted in December 2014.

Purnell received the good news that winter, during a family tragedy, when he and his wife lost a baby.

"I saw this as the blessing out of a tragic situation," Purnell said.

The performance was a personal accomplishment.

"In that moment, it hit me that I grew up in Clarksburg/California, Missouri, taught myself to write and play tunes factual of my life lived in Moniteau County, and that took me to Nashville, Tennessee.

"Here I was, performing in the music capital of the world songs I wrote on the corner of Washington and the highway in Clarksburg. It was a surreal blessing."

Purnell was a fan-favorite in the recent Nash Next radio contest. His original submission, "Fishin,'" which can be heard on Clear 99 and Kat Country locally, earned the maximum five-star vote from fans. His acoustic cover of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood," also earned five stars from the fans.

"I've learned contests and competitions can be highly unpredictable," Purnell said. "Those contests inspired me to seek out my own opportunities for advancement, no matter how big or small."

Sales from his self-designed T-shirts and promotional items fund fund his recordings.

He writes his own lyrics and composes his own music. When he has written a few tunes, he'll book studio time and professionally record those track, which are then made available to fans online.

"I keep my fans involved in everything via social media — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and my website," Purnell said. "I let them know I'm working on new songs and then keep them involved, when I'm heading to the studio."

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A self-titled, 16-track CD, "Billy Jack Purnell Plain & Simple," will be released this month.

Purnell calls it his "first official release," as he has recorded three demos in the past. For long-term fans, it will be more of a "greatest hits." But, there are a few new songs, too, which have been well-received, he said.

"I couldn't have fathomed those demos becoming what they have become," he said. "It was those demos that cultivated and built my fan base.

"It was that fan base that inspired me to keep writing and putting the music out there. This album is completely fan-inspired."

Purnell does not shy away from telling his story through his music.

"Some of these songs were written when I was on drugs and neck deep in addiction, some while I was cleaning up, and some after I had become who I am today," he said. "This music is derived from my real life experiences and the fans relate."