Dixon native Jon Pardi nominated for CMA award

A young Jon Pardi sings country music with his grandma, Loretta. (Courtesy: Shelly Harrington)
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The Country Music Association Awards are coming up on Wednesday evening, and one nominee for New Artist of the Year, Jon Pardi, is from right here in Northern California!

His song "Dirt on my Boots" is also up for Single of the Year.

Pardi grew up in Dixon and Winters, and his parents recently moved outside Esparto, in Yolo County.

ABC10 sat down to chat with Pardi's mom, Shelly Harrington, about her son's California roots.

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Jon Pardi may be hitting the big-time now, but his love of music began three decades ago.

"He loves performing, even from a very young age," Harrington said.

Pardi grew up idolizing the country legends, even back in pre-school, when Harrington eyed the names on her son's drawings.

"I was looking at these papers. There was 'Randy,' there was 'George,' there was 'Merle,' and I went to the teacher and I said, 'I think I have somebody else's paper,' and she goes, 'No, you don't. You've got Jon's,'" Harrington recalled with a smile. "'He had to be Randy Travis one day, George Strait, Merle Haggard, and he had the nametags on there, and you had to call him that.'"

"That's a true story," Harrington added, "and it's the cutest thing."

She said that early love of country music was instilled in Pardi by Harrington's mother, Loretta.

"She would take him at a very young age, probably 3, to her house, and she'd set up a little karaoke room, and they'd put in George Strait, Randy Travis, Garth Brooks, and he would literally sit there and sing with her all day long, and I think that's what started him with wanting to be an artist," Harrington recalled.

Her mother died in 2006.

"I wish she was still alive. She'd be on the road with him," Harrington said. "It really was her dream. She would be with him. I think she is, you know. She's out there with him."

She shared about a time Pardi was feeling "really down, and my mother's song was 'The Chair.' He said he was laying in bed and all of a sudden that song came on, so he goes, 'I knew she was there with me.'"

Pardi, now 32, draws strength from the love of his family as well as his beloved Northern California roots.

"He loves the mountains and the country, he really does," she said. "There's nothing fake about him. What you see is what you get. Those cowboy boots have been on his feet since he was 2."

Pardi grew up helping with the family land-leveling business, driving a bulldozer. Also, his paternal grandmother's family were farmers, so Pardi has deep ties to the land and countryside. He enjoyed family hunting trips to nearby Lake Berryessa.

Harrington said her son he wants to make more frequent visits to the mountains of Northern California, especially since his parents' new Yolo County home has a big room above the detached garage.

"He wants to make a writing retreat, so songwriters from Nashville can come out and they can hang up there and they really don't have to be bothered and go anywhere," she said. "I think he's going to call it Shelly's Honky Tonk!"

As for the CMAs in Nashville, the family is going to get together at Pardi's parents' house and watch Pardi, hopefully, walk away with a win.

"I really, truly always felt Jon was going to make it. Don't ask me why. I always did," Harrington said. "I truly am excited for Jon. It seems like everything is starting to turn for him and things are happening."

Tune into the 51st annual Country Music Association Awards Wendesday at 5 p.m., on ABC10.