March 24, 2016 11:12 AM

Ken Holloway is no stranger to hit songs. Over the years the country-singer-turned-Christian-country singer cut eight CDs and hit number one on 16 different occasions. But, the runaway success of “I’m Leaving” has taken him by surprise.

Written by a trio of Nashville songwriters and first recorded by Aaron Tippin, a new version of the track features Holloway’s classic country Kenny Rogers vocals. The result is country gold — the only thing missing is a gold record and frame. Jumping 200 spots in a week on the Mediabase chart, it shot passed Kid Rock but fell behind Chris Stapelton.

“It’s happened so fast this time. My second CD sold over 300,000 pieces and it was wild then. But this is even faster than that,” says Holloway.

Unlike the heavy rotation tracks on modern country radio — songs blurring genre with pop and cross-breeding with hip hop into some odd hybrid dubbed hick hop — Holloway’s “I’m Leaving” stays close to the sounds of pre-Garth Brooks Nashville. It’s a simple tale, reminiscent of the breaking up ballads that brought many a couple together on a honky-tonk dance floor. The song is a conversation between two lovers. The woman tells her man she is leaving. She’s not running off with a new lover but someone the man knows but hasn’t seen in a while. In classic country twist tradition — Little Sister killed Andy — the person she is leaving for is her.

“I think it’s (so popular) because so many people can relate to the lyrics,” Holloway says. “I have gotten a lot of emails saying that so many felt that the lyrics in the song were about their life. And the melody is addicting. People say it’s just easy to sing along with.”

Previously, he was a country singer poised to take the charts by storm via the night club scene. But, after finding his Christian faith, Holloway felt it only fitting to sing about it, as he says “Country was all I knew.” He even studied theology and became an ordained minister. But just as his faith led him away from the mainstream country, tragedy brought him back a few years ago. Holloway lost his father and sister in the span of eight months. This time, secular country gave him what he needed to get through it. “It was such a tough time,” says Holloway. “That music became my soft place to land.”

When his father was close to the end, he asked Holloway to promise him a return to country would be in his future.

“He said, ‘It’s what you were born to do, we’ve known it since you were a kid.’ He told me not to worry about what people say, but just what I feel God wants me to do. So after much prayer, I made the decision to play country music again.”

Holloway will soon follow up the single with a duet of a Vern Gosdin song he recorded and head back to Nashville to record another follow-up. When he left the genre after finding his faith, he also left behind the nightclub scene. After the success of “I’m Leaving,” Holloway returned to playing venues, such as Cowboys, as he says the demand to play clubs has been tremendous. If “I’m Leaving” is an indicator, Holloway will be racking up frequent flier miles and showing his face at his old haunts. He’s not rattled though. As a seasoned vet of the recording business and with a strong handle still on his faith, he seems ready for whatever success the next singles bring him.

“Things are definitely moving at a crazy fast pace. And I’m loving it,” Holloway says. “I wanted to be the best representative of a Christian man who sings country.”


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