Remember Josey Greenwell? He used to be the out-and-proud gay country musician, but now he's got a new name, Nate Green, and that guy is being marketed for a “straighter” audience!
While breaking into the music business, Josey also worked as a bartender at Tribe, as reported in the August 2011 interview he did with O&AN, when he was featured on the cover. His music even featured occasionally on the video screens at the bar, as shown in this video, uploaded on June 2, 2011, shows.
Back in 2011, Josey started to make a bigger name for himself and seemed to be everywhere, including the covers of DNA Magazine #142 (and a super sexy DNA spread with “best bud” Rodiney Santiago) and the 2012 Spartacus Gay Guide (which features Josey on a man’s back). At the end of 2012, Josey’s profile received broad national exposure when he was featured on Dr. Phil.
Given his career as an openly gay musician and his popularity as a model, Josey’s profile in the LGBT community seemed destined to rise. And then in 2013, Josey seemed to disappear. His last posts on his Facebook musician’s page appeared on January 9, 2013, though as of August 18, 2014 it remained active. Indeed numerous fans continue to post, asking for updates on his well-being and music.
This is where things take a turn. Fast forward to spring 2014, and a new song, “Wild and Free,” is released by country music newcomer Nate Green. In his short career, Nate has already been named “one of the ‘10 Hottest Guys You’ve Ever Seen In Country Music’ by Teen.com” according to a press release posted by Aristo P.R.’s Sharilyn Pettus. By May 9, Nate’s “debut” was featured in Red Carpet Reforma in Mexico City.
For comparison, here, again, is Josey Greenwell:
If you’re looking back and forth between these images and thinking to yourself, ‘My they look similar,’ you aren’t alone. And no Josey – Joseph Ignatius (Nate Green anyone?) Greenwell Jr. – does not have a twin brother. Over the last few months, social media outlets and blogs have been buzzing with rumors that Green and Greenwell are one and the same.
Shortly after the release of the “Wild and Free,” on April 29, 2014, the Spanish-language site Estoy Bailando reported on “The Curious Case of Nate / Josey Green-well,” explaining “the man who happily cavorted with Brazilian model Rodiney Santiago now romps with a busty random woman.” For a while rumors circulated but the story didn’t catch on in major outlets. But on August 9, 2014 WeHo Confidential ran with a story, “EXPOSED!!! NATE GREEN IS JOSEY GREENWELL.”
WeHo noted that “About 6 to 8 months ago, we noticed Josey Greenwell took down his Facebook profile and fan page along with all social media profiles. Even his Wikipedia profile was deleted.” Indeed, a visit to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josey_Greenwell reveals that the article was deleted twice, the first time on January 9, 2013, the VERY SAME DAY Josey last posted to his Facebook performer’s page.
A source at Tribe in Nashville, who asked not to be identified but who worked there when Josey Greenwell tended bar, confirmed that the photos featured in Estoy Bailando were Josey. “We sort of lost track of Josey after his going away party when he deleted most of his social media, but that is the guy we knew as Josey Greenwell.”
BNA Talent Group served as a representative for Greenwell in 2010. When contacted and shown this image of Green and asked to identify him, BNA’s Josh Robbins immediately, “Oh, that’s Josey Greenwell!” Further inquiry revealed that BNA no longer represents Greenwell but Robbins did confirm that BNA booked Greenwell as an openly gay artist with a gay club in upstate New York. “The club loved him and we made sure he was properly considered for the appearance," Robbins said. When informed that the photograph was of a man calling himself Nate Green, however, Robbins responded, “I don’t work with either persona at this time, and I have no further comment.”
The sad irony of this situation is that this isn’t the first time Joseph Ignatius Greenwell Jr. has found himself at the center of an identity controversy. Remember that Dr. Phil episode featuring Greenwell? It was about a catfish who used Greenwell’s identity to lure unsuspecting women into a psychological relationship via the internet. That Greenwell/Green should choose to manipulate his own identity, betraying his former fans and misleading his new fans, for the advancement of his career is an ironic twist.
This may seem a stretch, but given how aggressively Aristo P.R. is marketing Nate Green, it seems well grounded. Former gay artist Greenwell is now, as Green, a sex symbol for teen to twenty something girls and women, and the firm reports
Already boasting an impressive social following and fan base, Nate is quickly taking the female 13-24 age group demographic by storm. Numerous domestic and international fan-run Street Teams have popped up, and his fans have coined the nickname “wild things” for themselves.
It doesn’t seem overly cynical to hear in this marketing drive the rationale for the sanitization of the very out Josey Greenwell.
Far beyond this ironic turn on the identity shift however is the radical betrayal of his LGBT fan base, and his own identity, which he capitalized on heavily in his previous career. Back in April 2011 when he was emerging onto a national LGBT stage, he spoke with DNA in an article entitled “Country Strong: Josey Greenwell.” In that short article Greenwell discussed his early experience of getting dropped from a label because they found out he was gay. He finished that project independently, but reported that he was told “Music isn't ready for something as controversial as you and we sure as hell won’t be the first label to have it.”
Josey Greenwell felt like the time for someone like him had come however. And more than that, the opportunity music gave him was something he could use to the advantage of LGBT people: “Music can put someone on such a pedestal and it's up to them whether or not they use that for the greater good and I definitely feel like I am not only strong enough, but now brave enough to be able to stand up for millions of people out there just like me and stand as a role model with my music.” If we take Josey at his word in 2011, then something more important than being a role model and standing up for the LGBT community must have presented itself.
Aristo P.R.'s Sharilyn Pettus confirmed by phone that Nate's manager and the firm received a request for comment on Josey/Nate's behalf, and declined to comment at this time. O&AN contacted a number of LGBT singers and songwriters in Nashville, and most were not comfortable commenting on the story on the record. Cody Belew, the openly gay singer who achieved national prominence on Season 3 of The Voice, however, did say, “I don’t understand how they’re going to rebrand Josey and actually hope to separate him from his past, but I do understand why they want to do it.”
While Cody was very careful not to comment negatively on the Josey to Nate transformation, his reflections on his own career shed light on his sympathetic understanding of what the Nate identity theoretically offers Josey. “If you get pigeonholed, once that has happened it’s next to impossible to get beyond it. It’s the very reason I haven’t done some things – from my career standpoint I can’t afford to pigeonhole myself this early in the game. When I came off The Voice, I could have worked for two years solid based on requests from gay-centered things, but I turned them down exactly because of what I saw happen to people like Deborah Cox and Josey Greenwell.”
Joseph Ignatius Greenwall Jr. seems to have abandoned the Josey who told DNA that “Music should be about talent and not sexuality, but I'm proud of mine nonetheless," in favor of Nate Green, who isn’t on the cover of DNA but is extremely popular with females, ages 13 to 24. That tradeoff is a bit tragic. Or maybe Josey was just another victim of the fame industry and Belew's insight can help us take a broader view of who's to blame. What do you think?