Son of a gun
We’ll have big fun
Here’s my bio…
Gordon’s Life & Career
Gordon Kennedy is a multi-Grammy Award winning songwriter and record producer, a virtuoso guitarist, and a music industry visionary in Nashville. With his love for storytelling, vintage guitars and his deep knowledge of music history, he has emerged as one of Music City’s most beloved Ambassadors. Kennedy’s live shows are a treasure trove of colorful backstories and outstanding performances that one only as talented and immersed in rich experiences can truly deliver. He came by it honestly as the son of legendary guitarist, Jerry Kennedy.
Kennedy sites his guitar pickin’, record producing dad and his singing mom, Linda Brannon, as his biggest musical influences. “While other families might gather around the TV to enjoy time together,” Kennedy recalls, “we gathered around a tape machine. My dad would come home every night and bring us new music that he had just recorded. My brothers Bryan, Shelby and I couldn’t wait to hear from Roger Miller, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, The Statler Brothers or Jerry Lee Lewis.” The Meet the Beatles album his dad gave him when he was five, and more records from his father’s days as an executive of the Mercury Records office of Nashville, provided him with a diverse diet of music. This, along with a basement full of his father’s guitars, a jukebox and a piano, nourished and inspired him as he became one of music’s finest songwriters, producers and players.
Kennedy’s most successful composition is the international hit song "Change The World,” recorded by Eric Clapton for which Kennedy and his co-writers received a Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1996. The song won Record of the Year for Eric Clapton, and spent a record breaking 81 weeks on the top of the charts. In 2007 Kennedy also received a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album, co-producing, composing and performing on Peter Frampton’s Fingerprints album. Bluegrass Legend Ricky Skaggs’s Grammy nominated Mosaic, released in 2010, was produced and co-written mostly by Kennedy. It was a career bending recording that was a departure from Skaggs’s bluegrass records. Skaggs called in Kennedy to produce after hearing his song demos. He wanted to recreate the Beatle-esqe musicality that Kennedy captures on the record.
In his early career, Kennedy was a member of the Christian Rock band White Heart for six years in the 1980s. His substituting on a few shows for high school friend Dan Huff ultimately led to a permanent position as the band’s lead guitar player and songwriter. Huff became a successful record producer and would later hire Kennedy to play on many records that became gold and platinum recordings. Kennedy played on Reba McEntire’s first #1 hit, “Can’t Even Get the Blues” in 1975 while a young student at Belmont University.
Kennedy recalls that songwriting began to click for him in 1991 when he began co-writing with his friend, Wayne Kirkpatrick. "Dogs of Peace" formed in 1995. Their first album, Speak, was released in 1996. Twenty years later, in 2016, Kennedy, Jimmie Sloas, Blair Masters, John Hammond and Jeff Balding reunited for a second album called Heel. Kennedy, Kirkpatrick and Tommy Sims would later join forces in co-writing one of the biggest chart topping hits of their generation, “Change The World.” Kennedy not only received a Grammy for Song of the Year in 1996, but in 2002 a plaque on the Record Walk of Fame. In June 1997, the Southern Songwriters Guild inducted Gordon into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame in a ceremony in Louisiana.
As a songwriter, Kennedy has written 15 songs recorded by Garth Brooks. Kennedy co-wrote "You Move Me" recorded by Garth Brooks which reached #2 on the Billboard Country Airplay Chart in 1998. Brooks subsequently recorded ten more of Kennedy's songs on his alter-ego album, The Life of Chris Gaines, which reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart. Kennedy will join Garth Brooks 2019 Stadium Tour on guitar. “Garth and I have been friends for many years. It’s a great honor to be asked to tour with him and the other fine musicians that will be a part of the band.” It’s a feather in the cap of a successful career for Kennedy to accompany his friend Garth on this legendary tour. “It’s not just anyone I’d leave my family, the comfort of my home and my studio to hit the road with, but Garth’s an exception.”
Bonnie Raitt has said that Gordon Kennedy is “one of her favorite songwriters.” It’s no surprise then, that four of her five recent singles have been Kennedy compositions. Kennedy's songs have also been recorded by artists including Alison Krauss, Stevie Nicks, Faith Hill, Don Henley, Tim McGraw, and Carrie Underwood. His compositions have been heard in the film soundtracks of Tin Cup, Phenomenon, For the Love of the Game, Where the Heart Is, Almost Famous, Summer Catch, Someone Like You, The Banger Sisters, Instant Family, and Disney’s The Fox & the Hound 2.
He has lent his talents as a player to Don Henley, Kenny Loggins, Reba McEntire, Michael McDonald, Leanne Rimes, Bruce Hornsby, Little Big Town and Shedaisy, among others.
Seals and Crofts 2, the Beatles cover band Mystery Trip, and Tom Petty cover band The Petty Junkies are current projects Kennedy enjoys. He recently produced Shifting Gears, the new solo project of his longtime friend Larry Stewart of Restless Heart.
As a Belmont University alumnus, Gordon has been recognized as a Morris Family Mentor & Lecture Series, Curb College Distinguished Lecturer, and in 2014 received the Curb College’s Robert E. Mulloy Award of Excellence. Kennedy currently serves on the Belmont University Advisory Board, and has served on the Board of Governors for the Nashville’s National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
Kennedy has continually given to Belmont and its students for years. He has spoken at seminars, hosted events (including Belmont’s Homecoming concert, Homecoming in the Round), is an adjunct professor, and a student mentor. Gordon is the fifth and final recipient of the Distinguished Lecturer, an honor given to industry professionals who inspire others through their work in the entertainment and music industry. In addition, Gordon served on Brentwood Academy’s Board of Trustees from 2007-2010 where he and his two children are graduates and remain active alumni.
Kennedy resides near Nashville, TN, with his wife Tracey and their two children. Gordon and Tracey were married in 1987. His son, Dylan is already an accomplished mandolin player and builder, following in his father and grandfather’s musical footsteps. His daughter, Caitlin currently works at one of the music industry’s most beloved non-profits, Music Health Alliance.
In Shreveport, LA. Jerry and Linda (Brannon) met as teenagers in 1957 while singing and performing on the Louisiana Hayride. Jerry had signed a recording contract with RCA Records when he was 11, and Linda was signed to Ram Records in Shreveport and then Epic Records.
The couple relocated to Nashville in 1961 as the country music boom was just getting underway. Jerry was asked to work as a talent scout for Smash Records, a subsidiary of Mercury Records. He then began producing and playing in recording sessions. A recipient of four Grammys, Kennedy’s Dobro and guitar playing have been featured on the albums of artists as varied as Elvis Presley, Kris Kristofferson and Ringo Starr. Another work done by Kennedy on Dobro was Jeannie C. Riley's "Harper Valley PTA". Kennedy played on or produced nearly all of the country music records of Jerry Lee Lewis. He was one of the session musicians used by Bob Dylan in recording his classic album Blonde on Blonde, in 1966.
Gordon has two brothers and between them they continue the multi-talented music industry legacy of their parents. His brother, Bryan is tour manager and “all-purpose multi-threat guy for Garth,” explains Gordon. He is a 3-time #1 hit songwriter, an author, actor, novelist, playwright and life coach. Youngest brother Shelby is a multifaceted entertainment executive, music publisher, producer, songwriter, artist manager, and studio vocalist. He penned the theme song for the Reba television series and is currently Vice President of Entertainment Relations at TuneCore.
American Songwriter: Writer of the Week
Belmont University Alumnus
Curb College Distinguished Lecturer