MF 132 : A Musician’s Heart for Moving Forward, with Damien Horne
Updated: Jun 17
Damien Horne (damienhorne.com | encourageinspiremotivate.com) is an acclaimed musician who has shared the stage with some of country music’s biggest stars. A minister, philanthropist and TEDx speaker, Damien will share the musician’s heart for moving forward.
Successes at a glance:
Critically acclaimed musician:
Member of John Rich’s Muzik Mafia.
Performed alongside or opened for such artists as Faith Hill, Keith Urban, Robert Randolph, John Legend.
Featured SXSW Speaker
Two-time TEDx speaker:
Setback failure or time when things fell apart:
Damien shares that growing up, he had never been outside of his small hometown in Hickory, NC. So when he moved to Los Angeles, following high school, he had no idea how expensive or how difficult making a living as an artist in would be. Within a few short weeks, Damien was broke and with nowhere to stay and knowing no one out there, he ended up homeless. For the next two years, Damien moved around; sleeping in squats, abandoned buildings, and homeless shelters. Throughout it all, Damien never lost his vision for pursuing a better life. While this was one of the toughest periods in his life, he also reveals that it was one of the most pivotal as it helped sculpt who he is today. The perspective Damien demonstrates is a reflection of his character and his life’s mantra of being true to yourself. A powerful statement that he shares on this episode of Moving Forward that listeners should take to heart: “when the valleys come … you really find out what your character is about.”
The “aha” moment that sparked a pivot:
Damien has an amazing story that complements his extraordinary talent and achievements as an artist. Damien grew up in what he calls a “blended family” in Hickory, NC that included 12 children, all raised by his mom. As he describes, his childhood was all about survival, having witnessed a lot of death and destruction in the projects. Tragically, Damien lost one of his older brothers when he was 19 and later, lost another. On top of that, two of his younger brothers ended up incarcerated. Damien reflects that growing up in that kind of environment often leads to a narrow view of options for one’s future and life. Damien attributes to his faith and the support he had from his mom, herself one of 16 children, as the main reasons why he was able to persevere and survive.
Despite the difficult times, Damien graduated from high school, the first in his family to do so. He also made a decision to pursue something much bigger than most thought possible; sing himself in the entertainment industry. Part of Damien’s inspiration came from creating and writing music, something that was a source of strength and encouragement. Hickory, NC was a far cry from Los Angeles, CA but Damien, having grown up watching artists perform on TV, saw his future there. So, right after graduation, Damien packed up everything he had and moved west. To say the move was a culture shock is an understatement.
However, as noted above, the road was not easy. Damien ended up broke and homeless for two years, in pursuing his dream. Did Damien think about giving up and packing up? Absolutely, many times. But what kept Damien going and surviving, day-to-day was his faith in God. You can hear it in his voice, that unwavering drive towards his calling, a vocation that would one day take him to heights unimagined and inspire countless people through his voice. Despite those difficult times, Damien notes that every time he felt like giving up, someone would come into his life who would provide an opportunity to hang on a little longer; sometimes it was simply a word of encouragement to continue pursuing the dream.
Then, when all seemed its darkest, Damien, who had barely eeked out a living, managed to save enough to move back to NC. Coming home was a crossroads. He began to wonder if he should change his trajectory, perhaps take another route in music. He tried college for a semester and when that didn’t pan out, he took another leap and decided to move to Nashville, TN. This is when things really started to shift and align for him, though not at first. Damien shares how Nashville is filled with musicians lining the sides of the road, sharing their artistry and gifts with the public. Damien started doing the same, sitting on the street, performing for hours a day. He would perform as best he could and through the dollars and coins people would give him, he would save for a meal or a hotel room. Though his situation was better than in LA, it was still touch-and-go, a daily struggle to survive. But that all changed, a few weeks after arriving in Nashville.
One fateful night, a guy walked by, sporting a big black cowboy hat and a handlebar mustache. He stopped where Damien was performing and threw a hundred dollar bill into his collection case. A fellow musician, he also started performing with Damien. Damien had no idea that the man whose attention he caught was John Rich. Afterwards, Damien’s life changed with an invitation from John to perform with the Muzik Mafia, group of highly talented musicians who had been burned by the industry and had banded together to do what they love the most: perform the music they are most passionate about. As Damien played with them, the movement started to grow and gain recognition with many of its performers receiving record and publishing deals. Soon after, the group went on tour. Damien went from homeless to performing on stage, opening for Hank Williams, and that was the beginning of Damien’s meteoric rise which continues to this day.
Listeners, Damien has the heart of moving forward. He hit rock bottom, having faced the tragic loss of family members, homelessness, destitution and more. Yet, throughout it all, he kept true to his vision and looking back, he does not hold any resentment at the valleys or dips he had to go thru to get to where he is. Rather, he sees those experiences as part of the journey towards pursuing his dream, his goal, his mission. A truly remarkable story of perseverance, faith, and moving forward.
Resource or cultural experience that inspired Damien to move forward:
No Weapon: a gospel song by Fred Hammond; based on a Bible scripture that states “no weapon against me can prosper.” Damien listened to this song a lot while he was homeless and to him, it represents the strength and courage to keep moving forward. No matter what “knocks you down,” they will never “knock you out.”
Damien’s advice to anyone who wants to pursue a career in music:
First, write down what your goals are and put them in a place where you can see them every day.
Second, list out the tangible steps to reach each goal. Example: Damien didn’t play guitar when he moved to Nashville so that became one of his goals. The steps were practicing every day. Damien reminds us, it’s about “putting in the work” to achieve your goals.
How Damien recharges when facing a roadblock or challenge:
Damien recently got into meditation and it’s become an important part of his daily life; taking 10-15 minutes every day, to sit down and allow his mind to relax and breathe. Part of this is envisioning what he wants to see in life and where he wants his life to go. Damien shares that having a balance of work and rest will make you a better performer.
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Advice to past self while going thru a difficult time:
Damien would tell his past self to stay focused on God. Damien didn’t have an easy life and it was a long, difficult road to get to where he is today. As he shares, the difficult times were made even more so when he moved away from God, so staying focus and faithful is the biggest piece of advice he would share with his past self.
Parting wisdom (in a few words):
“Encourage, inspire, and motivate others and when you do that, others will shine!”