When plans for a career as a professional golfer were derailed by injury, country singer/songwriter Jake Owen picked up a guitar and never looked back. A native of Vero Beach, FL, Jake and his fraternal twin, Jarrod, grew up in the Florida sun playing sports like baseball and football before Jake turned to golf and Jarrod to tennis. They continued their respective sports together as students at Florida State University, until a waterskiing accident resulted in reconstructive surgery for Jake. Off the golf team and depressed, he borrowed a neighbor's guitar and passed time teaching himself to play by listening to childhood favorites like Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Vern Gosdin, and Keith Whitley.
Ambitious but inexperienced, with good looks and a smooth baritone, Jake could next be found playing country covers in campus bars for free beer and a few bucks. Soon growing tired of covers, he began penning his own songs that were met with positive response. This motivated Jake even more to follow his new dream of becoming a singer, eventually causing him to skip out on his remaining college classes -- only nine credit hours remained on his English and political science degree -- and head to Nashville. He constantly wrote songs in his Bellevue apartment, and a chance lunch meeting had producer Jimmy Ritchey (Clay Walker, Mark Chesnutt) befriending the young musician. For over a year, the two wrote songs together, including a track called "Ghost" (also co-written by Chuck Jones) that Kenny Chesney almost wound up recording -- the track would later be included on Jake's own album. Eventually, his friendship with Ritchey led to a meeting with Sony/BMG Nashville and resulted in a record contract for the determined 24-year-old, who already had his album basically finished. His debut, Startin' with Me, appeared in summer 2006 on RCA, spearheaded by the single "Yee Haw." As the song climbed higher in the charts, Jake supported the record on the road opening for Kenny Chesney.