Marcus King on Waylon, Willie, and “Wildflowers & Wine”

This CMT Listen Up artist earns a Grammy nomination for best Americana album

A blazing guitarist with an expressive and eloquent voice, Marcus King received his first-ever Grammy nomination this year for his debut solo album, El Dorado. The acclaimed project landed in the category of Best Americana Album, perhaps the perfect spot because of the way the 24-year-old performer blends blues, country, and soul music into his songwriting and studio sessions.

A CMT Listen Up artist, King caught up with us by phone about his latest late-night performance, a couple of his country music heroes, and what he’ll remember most about 2020.

CMT: Singing “Wildflowers & Wine” on The Tonight Show is a pretty cool way to wrap up the year. How did it feel for you to get back to playing with the band again?

Marcus King: It’s a little bit like riding a bike, and it’s also a little bit like riding a motorcycle. Things could go wrong but sometimes you get right back into the pocket — and we just got right back into the pocket this time. It was so good to see everybody and it was safe and we felt good about it. It was good to get the fellas back together, you know?
How often have you done TV shows?

I think our first television performance was for CBS This Morning [for Saturday Sessions] in New York City. We did that and it was a little early for us. We might have just stayed up and played that one like it was our third set of the night. And our first late night performance was Conan, then we did Colbert. But the big fish that everybody’s trying to get is Fallon. I grew up watching The Tonight Show every night with my family and I’ve watched Fallon since he took it over. So being a part of that was a huge deal for me personally and I know the rest of the band was excited too.

What went through your mind when you heard him say your name?

Oh man, I don’t even know how to react to that. I just never thought I’d hear that, and for him to say “Grammy-nominated” too, it’s all too unreal — and surreal. It’s a good Christmas present.

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