John Kilzer was born in Jackson, Tennessee, the son of a railroad engineer and bookmobile driver. A high school All-American in basketball, John later became a 4-year letterman at Memphis State University, where he earned a BA and MA in English. While playing basketball for Memphis State, John met Tennie Hodges, Al Green’s guitar player and composer of such standards at “Take Me to the River” and “Love and Happiness.” Tennie taught John how to play guitar, and John perfected this craft while teaching English at Memphis State.
After compiling several songs, John was signed to a major record deal with Geffen Records in Los Angeles. His first record, Memory in the Making, had a top-ten hit “Red Blue Jeans,” which was in regular rotation on MTV and prompted tours with The Moody Blues and Little Feat. John’s songs have been recorded by Rosanne Cash, Dobie Gray, Trace Adkins, and Stephen Bruton.
After a radical conversion experience in the Memphis jail, John left the music business and enrolled at Memphis Theological Seminary, where he earned his MDiv in 2005. In 2010 he was ordained an elder in the United Methodist Church and was also awarded his Ph.D. from Middlesex University in London, England. He now leads a recovery ministry at St. John’s United Methodist Church and is director of the Theology and Arts department at Memphis Theological Seminary. His also has a new recording on Madjack Records entitled Seven that will be released in Spring of 2012. John and his wife Stacey live in Midtown Memphis.