Florida Georgia Line: Inside Fame Reveals Brian Kelley’s Early Music

Just when you think you know a band.

Just when you think you know Florida Georgia Line because you’ve heard their debut songs a million times, you realize you don’t know much about them at all.

That’s how I felt after watching their episode of Inside Fame , the CMT biography series, that premiered Thursday night (May 22).

I mean, I knew the basics.

Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley met at Belmont University in Nashville, started making music, produced an EP and then moved pretty quickly from the lobby bar of Nashville’s Hotel Indigo to sharing an arena stage with Luke Bryan.

But learning all about what happened before Belmont taught me that I barely knew Hubbard and Kelley at all.

Did you know Kelley could do a sweet cover of John Michael Montgomery‘s “Sold (Grundy Country Auction)”?

Did you know he learned to love country music by riding in the car with his big sister who loved Garth Brooks, Alabama and Brooks & Dunn?

And that he graduated from high school with honors?

That’s all important because it’s those little moments that led him to start making music so early. By the time Kelley went off to college, he’d already had a head start writing songs when he was still in high school.

“I always had a thing with words and poems and always liked writing papers for school,” Kelley said. “And I was very intrigued by the way that you could take words and turn them into a melody and make a song and tell a story in three or four minutes. And growing up in church and having a faith background, the first music I wrote was Christian music.”

There is even some video of Kelley in his college dorm singing an original song that included the lyrics, “I thought to myself/If she’s got a man/I’ll have to steal her away.”

Fast forward almost 10 years, and Kelley has turned that love of words and storytelling into the kind of country that some have dismissed as not very country at all.

Those criticisms don’t bother Scott Borchetta, the head of their record label.

“If you don’t like it, it’s not for you,” he said. “So turn it off.”

Inside Fame airs Sunday (May 25) at 10 a.m. ET/PT on CMT, but you can watch the full episode online at CMT.com.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.