ROSS COUNTY — As a songwriter, local country music artist Paul Kazee likes to tell stories.
He spent a lot of time in Walnut Creek when he was growing up. Not only was it once the place where his church baptized children, but as teenagers, Kazee and his friends would sneak beer and cigarettes on the bank. There was something special about that creek, so he wrote a song about it. Now it’s up for Single of the Year at the International Association of Singer-Songwriters Awards.
“I’m just a local boy and if people like my music or my sound, it’s just amazing,” he said.
Kazee is originally from Shadeville near Scioto Downs, but now resides in Green Township with his wife and children. Kazee’s love for music began at a young age when he discovered his passion in church. Around the age of 10, he finally learned to play the instruments.
The writing did not begin until five years later.
After his friend’s grandmother died, Kazee wrote a song. He hoped to comfort his friend and invited him to hear him. The lyrics were about finding yourself in paradise. His friend then told his family about it and the aspiring musician played it for everyone. The song moved them too and they asked Kazee to play it at the funeral.
Just the decor made him a little nervous but it was also the first time he had performed in front of anyone. Kazee felt comforted that the family loved the song. As it turned out, it wasn’t the last funeral he sang at.
Kazee sang in church until he was 18, and it was around the same time that he became more interested in country music. He started learning to play a few different styles and even joined a few bands. Kazee played for a year statewide and at Red White and Boom, but when he and his wife started their family, music became secondary.
In 2019, Kazee began posting videos of himself singing on Facebook to pass the time when he was discovered by indie label Country Road Records in Georgia. They invited him to record a few songs and later released six under the stage name Paul Allen.
“It’s my middle name and my mom used to call it when I was a kid,” he said with a smile. He hoped a simpler name would keep him focused on the music.
“Walnut Creek” was one of the first singles released and with the help of fans and a few radio stations, Kazee made it to the finals of the ISSA contest. In July, he will find out if he has won.
For Kazee, songwriting is about conveying a story to listeners. It doesn’t have to be a true story, it just has to have emotion. Sometimes it’s an idea that needs to be nurtured and other times it comes naturally to Kazee.
He was drawn to the country music genre because of the storytelling of the musicians. One of the songs he is most proud of is “What The Whiskey Took From Me”, a song he says will help people struggling with alcoholism.
Soon he hopes to perform his songs for more people in the community. For other budding musicians, Kazee’s best advice is to start writing music. It also helps to meet other artists and start spreading your work.
“You never know who might hear it,” he said with a smile.
On September 1, Kazee released another Paul Allen EP with six more songs. They will also be available on all streaming platforms. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/paulallenmusic.
You can listen to Paul Allen perform live at 50 West Brewing, 1 N. Paint St in Chillicothe on July 10.
Do you have a tip or a comment? Contact Toria at [email protected] or 740-349-1106. Follow her on Twitter @ToriaBarnhart.