Judah & the Lion
Judah & the Lion performing in 2017
|Origin||Cookeville, Tennessee, U.S.|
Judah & the Lion is an American alternative band from Nashville, Tennessee, that started in 2011. The band is made up of Judah Akers (vocals, guitar), Brian Macdonald (mandolin, vocals), and Nate Zuercher (banjo, vocals). Their latest full album release is Folk Hop n' Roll Deluxe (2017).
The original members of the band met while attending Belmont University in Nashville. Lead singer, Judah Akers had written songs that he wanted to add more organic and acoustic sounds to and met Brian Macdonald and Nate Zuercher through classes and mutual friends. While at Belmont, the band won Belmont's 2012 Christian Showcase and Best of the Best competitions. Their first EP, First Fruits released by the band was a Christian worship collection, but the band knew that they did not want to exclude a wider audience and decided to stray from being strictly a Christian group.
Judah & the Lion released their first EP, Sweet Tennessee, on April 16, 2013, and it charted on the Billboard charts on May 4, 2013. The placements were at No. 2 on the Bluegrass Albums, No. 9 on the Heatseekers Albums, and at No. 15 on the Folk Albums. In the Fall of 2013 and Spring of 2014, Judah & the Lion opened for Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors.
Judah & the Lion released their debut full-length studio album, Kids These Days, on September 9, 2014; it entered Billboards Heatseekers chart at No. 2 and the Folk Albums chart at No. 4 in its debut week. In addition, their single "Kickin' da Leaves" accumulated more than one hundred thousand streams in two weeks after release and made Spotify's Viral 50 Chart alongside Meghan Trainor, Fall Out Boy, Betty Who, and Karen O, among others.
During their touring schedule in support of Kids These Days, Judah & the Lion opened for Mat Kearney and Ben Rector. During their headlining tour, they performed for the first time in Sweden in 2015 and wrote a song for their fans titled "Stockholm".
Judah & the Lion released their second studio album, Folk Hop n' Roll, on March 4, 2016 putting them at number three on the Alternative New Artist Chart. The album reached No. 2 on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart, No. 7 on the Billboard Americana/Folk Albums chart, and No. 17 on the Billboard Independent Albums chart. In November 2016, Judah & the Lion released the Take It All Back 2.0 + Stockholm EP.
In December 2016/January 2017, Judah & the Lion's single, "Take It All Back", reached #19 on the Hot AC Chart and the No. 1 spot on Billboards Alternative Songs chart for three consecutive weeks. The single was certified gold in September 2017 (over 500,000 copies sold).
Like Kids These Days, Folk Hop n' Roll was produced by Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton). Cobb recorded the songs in a series of quick takes, aiming for performances that sounded real and raw rather than polished and perfect. Everything was done in just two weeks. The goal was to fuel the album with the same electricity that fills the band's live shows. The songs on Folk Hop n' Roll incorporate fuzz bass, hip hop percussion and distorted banjo riffs.
"There's no boundaries," says frontman Judah Akers, who shares the band's lineup with drummer Spencer Cross, mandolin player Brian Macdonald, and banjo player Nate Zuercher. "We wanted to make something raw, something with attitude. We all grew up loving these hip hop beats, so why not make an album that has the grit of Run DMC or Beastie Boys, along with all the folk instruments that we play?"
In January 2017, Billboard magazine named Judah & the Lion their first "Chartbreaker" artist. The same month, on January 12, 2017, the band made a late night appearance on the show Conan, hosted by Conan O'Brien.[better source needed]
Judah & the Lion toured extensively though the US in support of the Folk Hop n' Roll album including headlining shows throughout the country. The band also made festival appearances at Bonnaroo, SunFest and Hangout Fest and opened for Twenty One Pilots on their Emotional Roadshow Tour and select dates with Kaleo.
Judah & the Lion headed back into the studio in early 2017 to record four songs dubbed the Going to Mars Collection, which, when combined with Folk Hop n' Roll, make up Folk Hop n' Roll Deluxe. On March 17, 2017, Folk Hop n' Roll Deluxe was released. The rebooted version of the album includes the band's string quartet arrangement of "Take It All Back", as well as "Suit and Jacket", which peaked at number four on the Alternative Songs chart.
Akers said that the record "was made for the live show. [...] And all the songs were made with that in mind. They're fun, carefree, and youthful, and we live our lives that way, too."
Judah & the Lion toured extensively though the US in support of the Folk Hop n' Roll Deluxe album including sold out headlining shows throughout the US, Canada, and Europe. The band made numerous festival appearances including Music Midtown, Sloss Fest, Firefly, Forecastle, and Governors Ball. The also opened for Incubus and Jimmy Eat World on the 8 Tour in the US as well as Kaleo's Express Tour in Europe. They performed 90 headline shows throughout the US and Canada selling over 100,000 tickets for the Going to Mars tour.
According to Judah Akers, the band received their name from a passage in the bible about The Lion of the Tribe of Judah. The name fits the band since the lead singer is named Judah and because of their Christian backgrounds.
|Title||Details||Peak chart positions|
|Kids These Days||4||2||--|
|Folk Hop n' Roll/
Folk Hop n' Roll Deluxe Edition
||To be released|
|Title||Details||Peak chart positions|
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Certifications||Album|
|"Rich Kids"||2014||--||--||Kids These Days|
|"Graffiti Dreams"||2016||--||--||Folk Hop n' Roll|
|"Take It All Back"||1||6|
|"Suit and Jacket"||2017||4||16|
|"Going to Mars"||2018||17||--|
|"Over My Head"||2019||10||30||Pep Talks|
(featuring Kacey Musgraves)
|"--" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.|
|2018||iHeartRadio Music Awards||Judah & the Lion||Alternative Rock Artist of the Year||Nominated|||
|Best New Artist||Nominated|
|Best New Rock/Alternative Rock Artist||Won|