by Kenny Kerner

Stop. I know what you're thinking. Here comes another boring story of someone who is down and out on his luck and turns to TAXI to be saved. But trust me folks, this one is a little different.

Jonathan Kingham graduated from high school and went directly into the Navy for five years. There was no real songwriting and no bands and no industry contact. He found himself in the Persian Gulf. Not much time to contemplate record deals.

Earlier on, Jonathan dabbled with piano, but, as he explained, "it was kinda hard for me to take a piano aboard ship, so I took a guitar." For the next five years, our Passenger wrote some songs but was too shy to perform for the guys. In fact, he didn't get around to writing his very first song--appropriately titled "A Place Called Home," until sometime in 1996.

When he finally returned home to Seattle, a friend of his persuaded Jonathan to enter the Telluride Songwriting contest. Reluctantly, Kingham sent in a tape which was chosen as one of the Top 20 winners in the country. "To tell you the truth," Kingham revealed, "I can't even remember the name of the song I submitted to them. But I went out to their festival to perform it live and, without even knowing what I was doing, I ended up winning first place. I got to perform in front of about 10,000 people and won a $5000 custom guitar and all this crazy stuff. So this was a nice little introduction to the music world for me."

Name: Jonathan Kingham
Residence: Seattle, Washington
Age: 25
Occupation: Musician
Joined TAXI: 1997
Songs Forwarded: 25
Deals: Licensing agreement with
Surreal to Reel for two CDs
It was this kind of beginner's luck that started Jonathan on a serious career path. "I came back to Seattle and started booking gigs and got some more great opening slots. It was just me and an acoustic guitar at that point. I opened for Michael McDonald and bunch of other singer-songwriter-types. For the Michael McDonald show, there were about 5,000-6,000 people."

You wanna know what's wrong with this picture so far? I'll tell ya. Considering all of the success Mr. Kingham has achieved--through sheer luck or otherwise, he never seized the opportunity to show one of his two indie CDs to a label! Not once. "I've had some friends that were on major labels, and not all of them were that happy. I think I'm gonna save up some money and get an independent promotion guy to work on the new CD."

Jonathan's affiliation with TAXI came about through a producer named Jay Pinto who produced Jonathan's first CD. Jay and TAXI Veep, Doug Minnick, met when he still lived in Sacramento. Turns out that Jay wrote a Christmas song on which Kingham did the vocals. The song was picked up by an independent film company about two years ago. so there was some sort of history between Jay and TAXI already established. "I was impressed with the fact that the song made it into a film," Kingham told us, "Jay got his $2000 and I thought this thing must really be legit. I called TAXI and talked with Doug and he seemed like a cool guy. I signed on as a member and went to the Road Rally. I joined in 1997 and went to the Rally in '97 and '98. I couldn't make it in '99 because I was on tour."

I often wondered whether someone who carved out his own success would take the time to read and absorb the critiques written by TAXI's A&R staff. Here's how Jonathan deals with the criticism: "Yeah, I read them. It would be pretty stupid not to read them. It gives me a different perspective on my writing. I don't always send in stuff that matches the listings. It's a good reality check, that's for sure. In fact, I just renewed my membership."

Jonathan was able to jump start his own career in the music business by combining luck with talent and perseverance. Getting a late start, he more than made up for lost time by continuing to be self-motivated and by continuing to look to TAXI for that extra exposure. Keep up the good work!


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— Firoz Sanullah,
TAXI Member

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