An Afternoon on the Water With Jake Owen

American Love Lands July 29

Hand Jake Owen an ukulele and he’ll be quick to bust out his go-to tune. Hugging the little instrument to his chest while standing on his Malibu M235 speedboat, he sings Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” for a few passengers onboard for a 30-minute cruise on Nashville’s Cumberland River. When it was time to whistle, the whole party joined in and sang.

“It’s amazing,” he observed, “just hearing you sing, and how a song can just be two chords and a voice, that’s all it needs.”

“Don’t Worry, Be Happy” is a perfect signature song for Owen. No matter what life throws at him, he remains blessed with a genuinely positive personality. In his first decade as a signed artist, he’s weathered at least two personal storms. He’s felt the pain of cancer after watching his father Steve Owen fight the disease and win in 2013. The end of his three-year marriage with Lacey Buchanan was part of the 2015 summer of country breakups (Reba McEntire and Narvel Blackstock split after 26 years of marriage; Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton called it quits after 10 years together including a marriage of four years). Then again, his marriage to Buchanan brought him his greatest joy in 2012: his daughter Pearl.

Through it all, he has come out the other side with more humility and a deeper appreciation for life.

On Music Row, he is known as being a good friend to the songwriter. His first No. 1 “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” was also a first No. 1 hit as a songwriter for Eric Paslay. Owen’s second No. 1 “Alone With You” was also a first country No. 1 for hit-maker Catt Gravitt. Owen has had additional success with songs co-written by with the Cadillac Three’s Jaren Johnston, who is among the lyricists behind the 2014 summer anthem “Beachin’,” the lead title single from Owen’s fourth studio album and his current Top 10 hit, “American Country Love Song.”

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