Gahanna Lincoln High School alumnus James Patrick Fouts, also known as PJ North in the music industry, is achieving his goals as evidenced by a recently released first single, "There's Always Vegas."

The 2006 Gahanna graduate moved to Nashville in March 2016, after spending several years playing around Columbus, in the Midwest and across the country.

He has opened for several acts, such as Lil Wyte, Mickey Avalon and Liberty Deep Down, said manager Nicholas Olaya, of The North Way LLC.

Fouts, 29, said he's not a star by any means, but he feels blessed with opportunities thanks to his own style of country music infused with pop and hip-hop.

Fouts said his mother was his music teacher in preschool and that's when he first fell in love with music.

He said his parents, Cheryl and Mike Fouts of Gahanna, always played music for him, and they and his brother, Nick, and sister, Michelle, all had significant influence at different points in his career.

"They have supported me since day one, just allowing me the space and freedom to make the music I wanted, but also keeping me grounded and driven to chase the dream in a big-picture way as opposed to being shortsighted," Fouts said.

"As far as influences go, with my parents being entrepreneurs for over 35 years, I always just had that 'Go get what you want' attitude," he said.

Olaya said Fouts' first single is on all major online platforms, and Fouts also helped co-write the song "Hello Summer" by Ryan Robinette from the EP of the same name.

Fouts' single can be found at www.thepjnorth.com/northwayview.

Olaya said Fouts quit a lucrative consulting job when he moved to Nashville last year.

Since the move, Fouts has been co-writing songs with other emerging artists, including Robinette, and played several songwriter rounds in the city at historic stages, including Commodore Grille, Douglas Corner Cafe and Bobby's Idle Hour.

"In conjunction with playing music, PJ has also been a drag-racer and the two passions often coincide," Olaya said.

"Several racing-themed songs in his early years led to a national audience in the drag-racing communities and articles in National Dragster and Drag Illustrated."

While this early direction was firmly in the pop style, Fouts always wanted to make country music, Olaya said.

"He finally decided to pursue country a few years ago and has since devoted his life toward the genre," he said.

He released his debut country EP, "Part-Time Cowboy," early last year.

Fouts said Gahanna was his home for 26 years, and he visits when he can.

"My parents still live there by the municipal golf course and Middle School West, where I went to school," he said. "I have a lot of friends still in the area, as well."

He played an Aug. 4 acoustic show at National Trail Raceway in Hebron.

Fouts said he can offer several pieces of advice for students and young people.

"If you have a dream, believe in yourself and continue to learn and craft that dream," Fouts said.

"I've wanted to be a singer-performer for as long as I can remember, but it took me a long time to get here and it took me taking lumps, but learning from mistakes to get to this point," he said.

As a musician, he said, it's also important to understand it's a job.

"So be punctual, be respectful, be well-spoken, and always do what you say you're going to do," Fouts said. "Too many musicians miss the boat on those things."

Lastly, he said, don't give up.

"If you truly love and are passionate about your dream, do not give up," Fouts said.

"Keep grinding, keep moving, keep growing and keep chasing because you never know what could happen.

"I'm nowhere close to being where I want to be in this business, but I'm closer than I've ever been and I feel blessed every day."

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla