Sturgill Simpson is now officially a Kentucky Colonel after being honored on Tuesday (3-20) in the Kentucky capital of Frankfort by both the House and Senate of the Kentucky legislature for being a “Man of the people,” and for his accomplishments in music and beyond. Born in Jackson, Kentucky, and graduating from Woodford County High School, Simpson went onto serve in the United States Navy before starting the band Sunday Valley, and eventually launching a solo career that would see him considered for some of the highest achievements in the entire music industry.
“We have before us today a proud Kentuckian,” said Representative James Kay of Verailles to the House gallery on Tuesday, with Sturgill standing in front of the assembly after just being made a Colonel in the Senate. “Colonel John Sturgill Simpson comes from the hills of eastern Kentucky, and was born and raised in Breathitt County, is a veteran of the United States Navy, and returned to our Commonwealth to start his first band.”
Representative James Kay then went on to praise Sturgill Simpson’s music, including what some consider Simpson’s opus, 2014’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music.
“There’s nothing like it. It’s one of the best albums of all time. It’s pure Kentucky and it’s pure Sturgill Simpson. Sturgill is his own man. Independent. Proud. Very proud to be from our great Commonwealth. His breakout record ‘A Sailor’s Guide to Earth’ peaked at #1 on the charts, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Album, and won a Grammy for Best Country Album. He’s been compared to many of the legends of country music, and he’s never missed an opportunity to make sure the music industry knows that [the music] belongs to the people, kind of like this House belongs to the people of Kentucky … He’s a man of the people.”
Members of Sturgill’s family, including his two young sons and father were also in attendance for the ceremony. Sturgill received bipartisan applause from lawmakers, despite the pause to honor him bisecting stiff debate in an ongoing budget battle. Senator Morgan McGarvey honored Sturgill in the Kentucky Senate.
From the very beginning of his music career, Sturgill Simpson has shown his Kentucky pride, most notably by having the face of the kick drum in the band emblazoned with the Kentucky flag. Even going back to some of his original gigs with Sunday Valley in 2004, Sturgill would drape a Kentucky flag over the bass drum to show his state pride. Simpson has also donated money to Kentucky coal workers in the past, and is often seen in interviews rattling off facts about Kentucky, and praising many of the state’s other famous natives.
Now Kentucky has returned that respect.