Singer-songwriter AJ Penta is a country-rock musician originally from New Jersey. AJ is mostly known for his solo projects that embody a southern rock and roll attitude.
He is presently negotiating a deal with Amalien records/Ingrooves Music. AJ’s previous albums include East Coast Cowboy (2012), his self-titled album, AJ Penta (2016), and his latest single, Little Lady (2020). Now, AJ is set to release new upcoming singles recorded with Grammy and Emmy-winning producer and engineer Ken Royster out of the capital of country music, Nashville, Tennessee.
Listening to AJ Penta’s earlier albums, you can hear bits of that post-grunge era that was inspired by a lot of southern rock and roll; some bands went so far as to cover hits such as “Tuesday’s Gone” and “Simple Man.”
However, the East Coast Cowboy grew up as one of the only country singers in New Jersey. Artists like Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, the Eagles, Kid Rock, Garth Brooks, and countless other classic rock artists from varied decades greatly impacted the southern rock singer/guitarist and New Jersey, Native.
He quickly secured his spot in the country scene playing country blues and rock and roll, where he played guitar for country star Rod Black. This is how he became known as the East Coast Cowboy. He embraced the Nashville country scene, finding his place in southern rock tours. AJ went on to open for artists like Bon Jovi and Buckcherry, among others.
Although AJ felt incredibly connected to the Southern Rock scene, he decided to stay in New York City. AJ elaborates, “ I get to do everything I love to do in New York City, so I decided to stay rather than going back to Nashville.”
He continues, “ I wanted to pursue acting as well as music.” There, he was offered the opportunity to audition for Demi Lovato. AJ shares, “After four auditions, I got the part and played with other artists such as Luis Fonsi.”
AJ is known for that alluring yet infamous rockstar energy he continuously brings to the stage. Whether he’s playing a song that’s close to his heart or really rocking out, fans are always captivated by his stage presence. AJ explains, “ When I get on stage, it’s just blues and rock. I’m passionate about what I do, and I think the audience can really feel that.”
He accredits this energy to the years he spent training in martial arts. AJ is a fourth-degree black belt in karate and an AAU junior Olympic gold medalist. AJ elaborates, “The skills I acquired from martial arts and fitness, in general, have provided me with a lot of exciting opportunities.”
This includes his career as a sag AFTRA Actor and stunt double in New York City. Just a few years backcountry music was viewed by some as a niche genre, but country music has recently gained a lot more popularity from other genres adding/stealing more southern guitar riffs. Some of the top-selling artists in the world are American country musicians.
Now the genre is just as popular as it ever was as more youth explore southern country rock artists.
Frontman turned stuntman
It’s a pretty iconic move to go from a frontman to an actor/ stuntman. AJ doubled for Justin Theroux in the film, Girl on the Train, also starring Emily Blunt. He elaborates, “ I’m a Sag/Aftra actor and stuntman, so I typically select roles based on my martial arts training.”
AJ explains, “As a child and teenager, I was an international competitive martial artist.” He continues, “The first time I made it to the AAU Junior Olympics I got my ass handed to me. The second time, I took bronze in fighting and in weapons. It wasn’t until the third time that I took gold in fighting.”
AJ claims that this had an immense impact on his life and his music career. AJ shares, “It taught me a major life lesson. Every time you come close to accomplishing your goals, even if you fail, you learn something, and you get one step closer to being where you want to be.”
Advice for aspiring singer-songwriters
AJ offers this, “Even if you lose, you still learn something. Therefore, you are better than you were before, so you haven’t really lost anything.” As the proverb goes, a cowboy is tougher than nails and stronger than steel. Sounds like the East Coast Cowboy is definitely that.
AJ shares his last piece of advice, “Write your own music. There is always going to be somebody who has a better voice or is better looking, but if you write your own music, you will always have something unique to offer.” He continues, “ Never sell out. Be creative. Take the time and put in the hard work – don’t sell your soul.”