Thad Cockrell Nearly Gave Up His Music Career—Then Jimmy Fallon Came Calling

Cockrell is working on a new album after he performed his single “Swingin’” on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon On Jan. 26

On Jan. 4, singer-songwriter Thad Cockrell got a phone call every musician dreams of—his management rang with the news that he would be performing on one of the biggest late-night TV shows, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

That call was a crucial turning point for Cockrell, who has spent two decades steadily building his career through five album releases and relentless touring, before the COVID-19 pandemic forced artists, including Cockrell, off the road.

Mere hours before that phone call, Cockrell had emailed his managers, letting them know he intended to end his music career and instructing them to go ahead and release music he had already stored up.

“It’s really hard to wrap my mind around it. From that moment until right now, it’s crazy. They say your life can change in a day, and it’s like, ‘Oh yes, it can.’” Cockrell tells CMT.

Fallon heard Cockrell’s song “Swingin’” playing over the loudspeakers while visiting a hardware store, and the show host fell in love with the song’s blazing intensity and rise-above-it-all message. Fallon used Shazam to track down the singer behind the track, and by Jan. 26, Cockrell was performing the song on Fallon’s show as a Zoom guest, performing alongside Fallon’s house band The Roots. The next day, “Swingin’” skyrocketed to No. 1 on the iTunes charts.

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