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Born in Eugene, Oregon, singer/songwriter Mat Kearney began his musical career 400 miles south at the Chico branch of California State University, where he studied literature and played on the soccer team. After completing his junior year, Kearney went to Nashville with friend/producer Robert Marvin, with the intention of only staying the summer to lay down a few songs. However, after offers for recording deals started coming in, Kearney decided to remain in Tennessee to seriously pursue his songwriting career.
Kearney's interesting blend of hip-hop and folk intrigued Inpop Records, which offered him the deal he'd been looking for and released his debut album, Bullet, in 2004. Kearney departed slightly from his rhymes and concentrated more on guitar work for his follow-up effort, Nothing Left to Lose. Released by Aware/Columbia Records in 2006, the album proved to be fairly popular, with three songs appearing in various episodes of Grey's Anatomy and two songs enjoying successful runs as singles. Kearney returned three years later with City of Black & White, supporting the album's release with a tour alongside Keane and the Helio Sequence. In July 2011, he released Young Love on the Universal label, coinciding with a tour with Owl City.
Mathew William "Mat" Kearney (pron.: /ˈɑr/; born December 1, 1978) is an American musician born in Eugene, Oregon, now based in Nashville, Tennessee. Kearney has received critical acclaim and widespread recognition for his Columbia Records debut, Nothing Left to Lose. So far, he has a total of 4 top 20 hits on the Adult Top 40 Chart.
His most recent album, Young Love, was released on August 2, 2011. The album's first single, "Hey Mama," was released on May 10, 2011.
Early life 
Mat was born and raised in Eugene, Oregon with his two brothers. His youngest brother's name is Patrick; he is a DJ. Through his mother he is a sixth generation Oregonian and his father's family emigrated from Ireland during the Irish Potato Famine. At South Eugene High School, Mat was a soccer player.
He attended California State University, Chico in Chico, California on an athletic scholarship and majored in literature, playing soccer until his junior year. Kearney first became interested in music after traveling to Nashville with music producer Robert Marvin. Using a roommate's guitar, he tried covering other songs. Realizing he was not too good at it, he began writing his own. Though things were going well for Kearney at school, Chico caught up to him. At a school known for its partying, Mat fit right in. In an interview, Mat said, "I guess I lived it up and did what everyone said you should do in college. I discovered the depth of depravity, the bleakness of that lifestyle. It just wasn’t working. I finally started understanding there must be more to life." Mat continued, "God found me when I was at my lowest point. That was the first time in my life when I really felt like I understood who Jesus was- it was more than knowing about Him, I felt like He met me in that time and place."
Mat began focusing on music fusing his simple guitar playing with spoken word, or rap, he started to play at coffee shops and soon began to make small amounts of money. At this time, Mat had met friend and future producer, Robert Marvin. The two began to make music together, but Marvin had plans to move to Nashville, Tennessee. Marvin asked Kearney to help the move and Mat accepted the journey. Kearney says, "I helped him pack up his trailer and we put a mattress on the back of his truck. We basically drove cross-country and slept in the back. When we pulled into Nashville we slept in a school parking lot for three days until we finally rented this apartment where the roof was caving in and mice were crawling all over." Mat decided to stay in Nashville to record a few demos with Marvin and after a few months, Mat had no plans on returning. "By the end of the summer, we had three or four songs and I realized this is what I wanted to do. It just clicked. So I called home to Oregon and said, ‘I’m not coming back’ and I never left Nashville."
2005–07: Nothing Left to Lose 
On April 18, 2006, Kearney's second album and major-label debut, titled Nothing Left to Lose, was released. It contains several reworked songs from Kearney's first album Bullet, as well as some new material, and has sold over 450,000 copies to date. The title track "Nothing Left to Lose" was the first single from the album, peaking at No. 41 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week of February 10, 2007. The single has sold over 500,000 copies and won numerous BMI awards. The track "All I Need" was featured on Grey's Anatomy and NCIS and began to chart on iTunes top 100 downloaded songs. It peaked at No. 94 on the Billboard Pop 100.
To promote Nothing Left to Lose, Kearney toured with John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, Train, Mutemath, Meiko, and Cary Brothers throughout 2005, '06, and '07; he also headlined VH1's first ever "You Oughta Know Tour" in the spring of 2007.
2008–09: City of Black & White 
Kearney's following album, City of Black & White, was released through Columbia Records on May 19, 2009. Mat collaborated with Nashville artists such as Trent Dabbs, Matthew Perryman Jones, Kate York, Paul Moak, Daniel James, Will Sayles, and Josiah Bell. Robert Marvin (tobyMac, Britt Nicole), the producer of Mat's previous albums and EPs, joined Mat yet again. The lead single was "Closer To Love" and it received much airplay, on secular and Christian outlets. His second single is "All I Have", the last song he wrote before releasing the album.
In May 2009, Kearney toured with Keane and The Helio Sequence for several weeks to promote City of Black & White. It debuted on the Billboard 200 at No. 13. He most recently toured with Owl City and Unwed Sailor on Owl City's "All Things Bright and Beautiful Tour."
2010–11: Young Love 
Kearney's latest album, Young Love, was released on August 2, 2011. The album's first single, "Hey Mama," was released on May 10, 2011. "Hey Mama" charted in the Top 40 of Adult Pop Songs at No. 22. The second single "Down" charted as high as No. 23 on the Christian Songs chart.
Featured in the media 
Kearney's songs have appeared on the following television series: 30 Rock, Awake, Dirty Sexy Money, Kyle XY, The Unit, Without a Trace, Laguna Beach, The Hills, Bones, Jericho, Friday Night Lights, Wildfire, What About Brian, South Beach, 8th & Ocean, One Tree Hill, Scrubs, The Closer, NCIS, Life Unexpected, Grey's Anatomy, So You Think You Can Dance and The Vampire Diaries. His song "Runaway" is featured on the Soul Surfer movie soundtrack. Kearney's song "Sooner or Later" provides the background music to Google's Zeitgeist 2011: Year In Review video, which was uploaded to YouTube on December 14, 2011.
Musical equipment 
Mat's guitars of choice are usually the Martin D-28 or the Gibson Hummingbird. Mat began to regularly use the Martin when he toured with Keane to promote City of Black & White. Once he began his headlining tour, he continued to use it. Most concerts before that, he is seen with his Gibson. The Martin was lost in the May 2010 Tennessee floods along with much of his other equipment.
Personal life 
Mat currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee, in Hillsboro Village with his wife, Annie, whom he married on June 5, 2010.
Kearney has stated that his legal name is Mathew due to a nurse's error on his birth certificate. He discovered the error while in the 8th grade when he noticed how his mom corrected the error with red ink, never legally correcting it. Since then, he embraced the one T in his legal name.