Kip Moore was born in Tifton, Georgia, near the Florida line, one of six children. "You had to make your own fun, for sure," he said of Tifton. "I had a lot of time for daydreaming. It was a great town, but I dreamed about getting out. I do enjoy going back now."
Moore's father was a golf pro and his mother was a painter who also taught piano and played the church organ. Weekends were often spent driving to the beach with his father for fishing expeditions. "He would play a lot of Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, Bob Seger, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen," Moore recalled. "As early as I can remember, I always gravitated toward lyrics. Even when I hadn't lived enough to understand them, they still shaped me."
Living in rural Georgia meant few live shows for the young Kip Moore. "My childhood didn't consist of going to concerts," he told Taste of Country
. "For me it was all about who I connected to on records."
The first album that Moore bought was Bob Seger's Night Moves. "I started making my own money by working on my dad's golf course, with the maintenance crew," he recalled to Billboard magazine. "I'd ride around and listen to this while I was cutting grass."
During high school, Moore largely focused on sports. He played point guard for Wallace State's basketball team and also played on its golf team in Hanceville, Alabama, for two years and then transferred to Valdolsta State University on a golf scholarship.
Moore had begun playing his brother's guitar during high school, and music became a growing passion. He wrote songs daily and made his first public performance at a Mellow Mushroom restaurant in the Georgian town of Valdosta.
After graduation, Moore moved to Hawaii on a whim with a friend, and they lucked into a hut that was $50 a month. Moore later sung about his six months in the tropical paradise on the Up All Night
track, "Everything But You
Moore's friend in Hawaii had been encouraging him to pursue songwriting as a living. "I didn't know a whole lot about the world of songwriting," he said. "I just did it for my own enjoyment. We talked about Nashville and I ended up saying, 'I'm going to give it a shot.' I flew back home and told my folks. They thought I was crazy. Now they'll say different, that they knew all along."
Moore drove to Nashville on January 1, 2004 in an old black Nissan truck that contained one bag and his guitar. He immersed himself in the songwriting community and honed his craft. After four years of performing locally, Moore came to the attention of Universal Music Group Nashville's Joe Fisher, which lead not only to his record deal with MCA Nashville, but also brought about his introduction to songwriter Brett James, who produced Kip's debut album.