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© Randee St. Nicholas

As the brother of Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley and the husband of actress Katherine Heigl, singer Josh Kelley has some solid connections in the entertainment world. But it’s his soulful, smooth-as-butter voice and goosebump-inducing tunes that have recently propelled him from pop-rock up-and-comer to burgeoning country star.

The 31-year-old’s first country album, Georgia Clay, came out earlier this year, and now the native of Augusta, Ga., is getting ready to join superstar Taylor Swift on her “Speak Now” tour. We asked Kelley to name a few of the artists who inspired him to go country.

Vince Gill
“I’m a huge fan. His voice sounds like glass, and he’s an amazing guitar player. He’s set trends and styles with the way he plays.”

Randy Travis
“That’s basically all my dad listened to when I was a kid. Great lyrics and deep voice, but he also has a great stage presence.”   Brad Paisley
“I love his music, but I’m obsessed with his guitar tone, the way he plays electric. He makes me want to be better.”

Dixie Chicks
“They taught me that you don’t need to hit people over the head with your music to get their attention.”

Alison Krauss and Union Station
“[Guitarist] Dan Tyminski is actually a good friend of mine, so I’ve gotten to meet a lot of the guys in the band. Jerry Douglas plays dobro on my song ‘Naleigh Moon’ about my daughter.”