“The most buzzed-about new songwriter in folkdom.” – Scott Alarik, Boston Globe
“I thought I was listening to a young Doc Watson.” – Jay Moulon, Southeast Performer Magazine
2003 Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk award winner.
Jonathan’s career started with a contest. In the year 2000, Byrd took grand prize in the North Carolina Songwriter’s Coop Song contest in his hometown of Carrboro, NC. Inspired, he began to tour and recorded his first CD, Wildflowers. With spare production, these simple tales of love and death made a surprising impact. Other touring musicians, like Jack Lawrence and Larry Keel, began to cover these new songs that sounded so old.
Born in Fayetteville, NC, Jonathan got his musical start singing in a Baptist church. After learning piano and classical flute, he convinced his father to buy him a cheap electric guitar. The adolescent Byrd started breaking the rewind button on cassette players, learning Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix licks. Jonathan headed straight from high school into the Navy, carrying a guitar behind his bunk for three tours in the Mediterranean. Back home, Byrd began to connect with a vibrant folk music scene. At fiddle meets and festivals, Jonathan fell in love with traditional music. And through music, he found a connection with his native ground. His writing took a hairpin turn, as he flat picked fiddle tunes and began writing new ballads. “The old world was not really different from today’s world,” Jonathan says. “Discovering the language and stories of that older world has shown me the essence of the human experience.”