Stephen DeLoach, a former Glennville resident, has made a name for himself in Nashville, Tennessee. He stepped onto the Grand Ole Opry stage on Tuesday, February 22, 2022, to play bass guitar for Jon Langston’s Opry debut.
Langston, a country music singer on the rise, is now one of DeLoach’s best friends, which made it even more special for them to play at the Grand Ole Opry together alongside their band members.
“That was one of the most overwhelming and emotionally draining days,” DeLoach said. “I normally do not get nervous before a show, but I was nervous just driving to the Opry that day. I don’t know if it was because of the history on that stage, but I had so many butterflies.”
DeLoach had visited the Grand Ole Opry with friends several times before last Tuesday, but he never once stepped inside of that sacred circle on the stage. He saved that moment for his first performance there, which he accomplished before the age of 30.
In addition to the emotional roller coaster that came from playing at the Grand Ole Opry, the band was told that Langston’s song, “Forever Girl,” was certified gold by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). In addition, a new song was released the following Friday, called “Back Words.”
DeLoach picked up a guitar for the first time when he was eight years old. The instrument was a gift from his Grandpa, the late John Bowen of Glennville, but he did not take the practice seriously until he was 14 years old.
“There were times when we could not afford a guitar instructor, or there were no instructors in the area. I would take my cassette and record songs off the radio and learn through listening and playing over and over,” DeLoach said. “I would play these songs until I knew them in full, whether it was technically right or wrong.”
DeLoach enjoyed playing the guitar, but he realized he wanted to pursue this as a career once he was on the Rock Eagle Auditorium stage. He played guitar for the Georgia 4-H band, Clovers and Company, from ninth to twelfth grade.
“I still remember everything about being on that stage. It was awesome,” DeLoach said. “Rachel Stewart and Leon Stalls influenced me to get into competing in 4-H with my guitar. That experience really started it all.”
DeLoach is a 2010 graduate of Tattnall County High School, previously attending Glennville Christian Academy until it closed. He attended a semester of school at Valdosta State University before deciding to pursue music full time.
DeLoach moved to Nashville in 2012, playing small gigs and in bars to start. In 2016, he was welcomed to play guitar for Trea Landon, a Claxton local. Langston’s tour manager, JD Groover, recruited DeLoach to play with him in 2017 when he needed a bass guitarist.
This fill-in for Langston’s bass guitarist turned into a full-time job for DeLoach.
The year 2019 was one of the busiest years for Langston and his camp. DeLoach has played over 600 shows with Langston, including radio shows.
Langston is signed under Luke Bryan’s label, someone who DeLoach has also had the opportunity to play guitar for.
“One of the coolest performances, for me, was when I played a sold-out stadium with Luke Bryan,” DeLoach said. “I found out four hours before the show that I was filling in for Luke’s bass guitarist for a 90 minute show.”
Similar to how he learned guitar by listening to his cassette player, DeLoach sat down and learned the set list by listening to Bryan’s songs on Spotify. He was also told before the show that the band would play a new song, “What She Wants tonight,” for the first time that night.
“Playing the guitar just comes so natural to me; I can’t put it into words,” DeLoach said. “If you asked me to draw a picture, I couldn’t do it. But, I could listen to a song and play it on the guitar easily. It is second nature to me.”
DeLoach never thought he could take a passion and turn it into a career, leading to “bucket-list moments” like playing on such historic stages as the Grand Ole Opry. He is more than grateful for his upbringing in Glennville, since it all brought him to where he is today.
“I have a lot to be thankful for. I do not take these opportunities lightly,” DeLoach said. “I haven’t forgotten where I came from and everyone who helped me along the way. Many people from back home have always been so supportive. So many people have believed in me… to name one person who encouraged me the most would be an injustice to everyone else.”
DeLoach wants his story to be encouraging to anyone in a small town who has big dreams for themselves.
“It is okay to take that step, no matter how risky. Get out and see the world, if that is something you want to do,” DeLoach said.
He is the son of Timmy and Cindy DeLoach of Glennville. In addition to his late Grandpa John, Margie Bowen of Glennville is his grandmother. He is engaged to Hannah Burt of Valdosta.