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Music City‘s Jackson Boyd Talks Growing Up in Nashville

New Episodes Air Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET

Music City’s Jackson Boyd and his cousin Alexandra Harper are what Nashville transplants would refer to as unicorns. With approximately 100 people moving to the Tennessee capital daily, run-ins with true Nashville natives are becoming a rarity, and Boyd and Harper represent the few on the show.

Boyd is a personal trainer and a graduate of Ole Miss University in Oxford, Miss. And yes, like other Nashvillians, singing is among his many talents, but fitness is his life’s passion. Boyd grew up in athletics, primarily basketball and football, but after his seventh concussion, his career path took a different direction.

“The one thing I’m really in control of in my life is my own fitness,” he tells CMT.com. “You can’t do anything without it. And it’s just something I get a high off of, and I get a rush off of it. I love doing it. And it didn’t do it until one year ago when I was at a rock bottom. The corporate world wasn’t doing it for me, and I was not happy. I prayed, ‘Lord, now what?’ Fitness was it.”

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Singing is kind of a guilty pleasure that I’ve always loved to do, but I’ve always kept it to myself being an athlete. Singing is a very vulnerable thing, and I never wanted my athlete bros to see me singing. So, I kept it to myself for years. And finally, I thought, ‘You’ve got a gift and an opportunity that someone would kill to have.’ Music is definitely not a closed book. I just want to see where it goes.

My goal is to get my own fitness space where I can run group classes and see personal clients. But you’ve got to put in those brunt hours that you don’t want to do to get to your ultimate goal. That’s the whole mantra of Nashville. You’re trying to climb to get to that ultimate goal. I had to serve smoothies at Barry’s Boot Camp before I even got to teach a class. It wasn’t fun at the time, but looking back I’m glad I went through it.

Nashville is much more than honky-tonks and country music. Even though that’s what Nashville was founded on, it’s just grown so much in all genres of music in general. This new Nashville offers so much livelihood. It’s so vibrant. It’s such a great place to raise a family. It’s got the best of every world. I’m so excited for people to see that.

Jessica Mack introduced a side of me to myself I didn’t realize I had. That’s what made me have a huge appreciation for her because even though we don’t have that attraction that people do when they’re into each other, she and I goof around all the time. It’s a lot of fun to be around her still.

I worked for Eli Manning while I studying at Ole Miss. I put myself through school. I started out as a business major and then six years into it, I ended up with three minors in Journalism, English and History. And now I’m in fitness. At least I started something and finished it. I did work for Eli all the time while he was away from his Oxford house. I would maintain the property for him, and I loved it. He was so good to me and everyone. He had this wine cellar. I got to drive his cars around. I’ll never forget those years in my life. I was also a bartender in college. At Ole Miss, they call bartending “the velvet ditch” because you’re making this money, and it’s all cash. It’s addicting, and you’re thinking life’s good. But so many people just get stuck there.

New episodes of Music City air on Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET. Additional videos and full episodes are available at the Music City show page on CMT.com and the CMT app.

Lauren Tingle is a Tennessean and storyteller who eats music for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When she’s not writing or rocking out, she enjoys yoga and getting lost in the great outdoors.