Ryan Harmon is a country singer and guitarist from Lamar, Arkansas who is determined to be more than another guy with an acoustic guitar.
Harmon was invited to audition on “American Idol” by one of the show’s producers, and moved on to the televised auditions. His audition airs Sunday, March 1 on ABC at 8 p.m. EST. Harmon performed an original song on the show for Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie.
He started performing at a young age, and he believes his showmanship makes him stand out from the crowd, he wrote on his website. You can listen to his music here and check out his upcoming tour dates here.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Ryan Harmon Began Performing at Age 12 & Writing His Own Music at 14
Ryan Harmon has a range of influences and wants to be a memorable act for anyone who sees him, he wrote on his website.
“I know what you’re thinking – ‘another guy with an acoustic guitar. We’ve seen it before.’ But just give me a stage and a moment of your time,” he said on the site. “I promise you won’t regret it. I’m not just a singer/songwriter. I’m an entertainer. My job is to make sure you have a good time. And if I do my job right, this is a show you won’t forget. Let’s have some fun!”
Harmon began performing when he was only 12 years old. Within two years, he had become a solo act – writing his own music and performing for crowds. He now tours regionally close to his hometown of Lamar, Arkansas.
“Playing on and off with local musicians, Harmon started performing at age 12,” his website said. “Just two years later, Harmon began performing as a solo artist, and writing his own music. His first solo performance was at the 2009 Arkansas Oklahoma State Fair in Fort Smith, one year after being a Top 20 finalist in the 5News Youth Talent Contest as a solo electric guitarist.”
Check out his upcoming tour dates here.
2. Ryan Harmon Wrote a Song Featured on NPR’s Dog-Themed Playlist
Ryan Harmon wrote a song intended to poke fun at the stereotype of morose themes in country music, and it landed him a slot on a dog-themed, NPR playlist. The song, “You Left, My Dog Died, and My Heart Did, Too,” was a part of a Spotify playlist created by NPR in 2018 called “NPR Music’s H*ckin’ Good Puppies Playlist.” The song was from Harmon’s eponymous debut album, Ryan Harmon. The playlist was created for the 2018 Puppy Bowl.
“The fine folks at NPR Music have included ‘You Left, My Dog Died, and My Heart Did, Too,’ from my debut album ‘Ryan Harmon,’ on their ‘NPR Music’s H*ckin’ Good Puppies Playlist’ on Spotify, featuring songs all about dogs,” Harmon wrote on his website. “Thanks to everybody at NPR Music for making me part of it!”
The country singer’s original song is accompanied on the playlist by well-known artists like Cat Stevens, Elvis Presley and The Baha Men. You can listen to the playlist here.
“Take a break from pretending you’ve kept up with the NFL this year — or if you have kept up, take a break anyway, you deserve it — and stream our playlist below,” NPR wrote.
3. Ryan Harmon’s Influences Include Travis Tritt, Ray Charles & Kris Kristofferson
Ryan Harmon cites a range of influences including Travis Tritt, Ray Charles and Kris Kristofferson.
“Drawing from musical influences like Travis Tritt, Ray Charles and Bob Seger, and lyrical influences like Guy Clark, Kris Kristofferson and Roger Miller, Ryan Harmon carries on the long tradition of ‘three chords and the truth,'” he wrote on his website. “Combined with a commanding stage presence and fun, lively performances, Harmon seeks to push the boundaries of what a solo acoustic act can be.”
While his music is generally classified as country, he categorizes himself as Americana, a subgenre of country. Some of his songs, like his breakup song, “I Knew This Would Happen,” include rock influences. He strays away from overly produced recordings, a throwback to his country roots and old school country influences like Hank Williams and Robert Johnson.
“Though commonly categorized as country music, Harmon’s music more specifically fits Americana, a sub-genre of country. He describes Americana by saying ‘You can put Hank Williams, Bob Seger, Ray Charles and Bill Monroe all in the same room, and it makes perfect sense,'” his website said.
4. Ryan Harmon Studied Journalism in College & Started a Podcast, ‘Country Fried,” on His Local PBS Station
Ryan Harmon studied journalism in college at Arkansas Tech University, according to his Facebook page. He took those skills to AETN, Arkansas’ PBS station. There, he started his own podcast, “Country Fried,” where he interviewed some of his country heroes.
You can listen to the podcast here. It included seven episodes. His interviews included Country Music Hall of Fame inductee and Grand Ole Opry member Charlie Daniels, Arkansas native and Grammy award-nominee Barbara Fairchild, 80’s country icon Sylvia and up-and-coming Arkansas singer-songwriter Heath Sanders.
“This podcast miniseries, hosted by Arkansas singer-songwriter Ryan Harmon, features conversations with country music icons and Arkansas favorites like Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Charlie Daniels, Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and producer Shawn Camp, Marty Raybon of Shenandoah and more,” AETN writes. “Each episode takes listeners on a journey through the guest’s career, as they share stories and philosophies about the music business, while also aiming to answer the question – What does country music mean to you?”
“Country Fried” was AETN’s first podcast. It premiered in September 2019.
5. Ryan Harmon’s ‘American Idol’ Mentor, Bobby Bones, Gave Him Advice on His Audition During His ‘Country Fried’ Podcast
Ryan Harmon interviewed Bobby Bones, his “American Idol” mentor, on an episode of “Country Fried” just hours before his audition. On the episode, which you can listen to here, Bones gives Harmon advice on his performance. It was recorded on the set of “American Idol” in Savannah, Georgia.
“What you feel is the thing that may be your weakness, is actually your biggest strength,” Bones told Harmon.
Bones turned the interview on its head toward the end of the segment, asking Harmon how he was feeling about his audition.
“I’m feeling pretty good about it, you know,” Harmon said. “I just have kind of looked at this whole process as being gravy. You know, anything that happens is kind of a blessing. The fact that I’ve made it to this point I feel like, in itself is a blessing and regardless of where it goes from here, I’m just happy to be here.”