- "Music's all I know how to do."
- —Avery to J.T.
Avery Barkley is a singer/songwriter and music producer. He is portrayed by Jonathan Jackson.
Avery first appears backstage with Scarlett O'Connor when he bumps into Juliette Barnes on their way to see Rayna Jaymes. He apologizes and she tells him to do it slower next time. She then walks away while he gazes after her (prompting a punch from then-girlfriend Scarlett, who witnesses the gaze). This coincidental meeting turns out to be a pivotal event, being the first encounter Avery has with Juliette, whom he later befriends and provides critical support to.
His desire to achieve his dream of fame brings him much conflict at first, leading him to become involved with Marilyn Rhodes to further his chances of making it big (this involvement leads Scarlett to break up with him). However, he finds that stardom pushes him into something he's not and in a moment of passion he burns his master tapes, thus ending his moment of favor with the popular music industry. He experiences a financial and emotional fall that humbles him. It is this fall that paves the road to Avery becoming a roadie on Juliette's tour.
He, Gunnar Scott and Zoey Dalton decide to form their own band. He also resumes his relationship with Scarlett but they break up when she believes he has feelings for Juliette. After Juliette is publicly humiliated when a video of her rebuking a heckler is doctored so that she says there is no God, Avery visits her to find her passed out drunk on her bed. When she comes to, he says he and Scarlett broke up and he decides to cheer her up by taking her busking disguised. It works and she requests that they write a song together.
She performs her song at the Grand Ole Opry which leads to Jeff Fordham terminating her contract. That evening, she calls to Avery's apartment with a pasta dish as a thank you gift and the pair end up sleeping together. They embark on a romantic relationship which goes well at first but he's overwhelmed when he feels he can't treat her to dinner.
Their relationship ends up hitting the rocks and Juliette attends the BMI party alone, where she has a drunken one night stand with Jeff Fordham. Gunnar spots them together and tells Zoey. They're eventually forced to tell Avery and he breaks up with Juliette.
A drunken Avery decides to return to Mississippi and hitches a ride with Scarlett, but Gunnar ends up in the car with them after he tries to stop her leaving. Avery lashes out when Gunnar tells Scarlett the reason why he and Juliette split up. He attempts to drown his sorrows in a bar across from a gas station while Scarlett is getting her car repaired after it breaks down. He enrages a patron after he accidentally gropes the guy's wife and he makes his escape with Gunnar and Scarlett.
Determined to get over the split, Juliette auditions for a Patsy Cline biopic but breaks down in the audition. She tries to cut off her hair and a doctor is called in. He tells her that she's pregnant and at first she thinks the baby is Jeff's until an ultrasound proves she's further along, meaning Avery is the father. She finally tells him via text message while he's doing community service. At first he's angry but after a chat with Emily agrees to have a role in the child's upbringing. However, he tells Juliette they're not getting back together.
At the CMA Awards, they meet his parents, Carl and Sandra Barkley. Sandra reaches out to Juliette, but Karl is a pompous ass, Sandra tells him to "Shut up, Carl!". Avery grows a backbone, tells off his father, and Juliette admits she peeked, they're expecting a baby girl.
When Sadie Stone asks him to produce her album, Juliette believes they're an item and stalks him at the city's winter music festival. He later tells her off and she makes her peace with Sadie, telling her to work with Avery. Juliette later asks him to move in with her temporarily after the baby is born but he doesn't think it's a good idea. However, after a conversation with Sadie and a phone call to his mother, he visits Juliette and tells her he's unhappy with their arrangement. Thinking he doesn't want to be a part of their baby's life, she's surprised when he proposes instead. She accepts and they marry in a small ceremony.
After Juliette goes into labor and gives birth, her behavior rapidly changes and he has no choice but to leave Gunnar and Scarlett to continue on without him in the band. He begins to suspect that Juliette may be suffering from postpartum depression since she is unable to bond with their daughter. He leaves town when Juliette throws a glass object at him while holding their daughter.
After Juliette fails to contact him, he eventually feels he has no option but to consider seeking a divorce which leaves Juliette on the brink of destruction, culminating in her attempting suicide only to be saved by Jeff Fordham, who dies instead. Juliette eventually enters rehab while Avery cares for their daughter. When she returns home, they remain on civil terms for the sake of their daughter. However, both soon realize how much they care for each other.
after Juliette survives a plane crash that leaves her as the sole survivor he takes care of her and their daughter, eventually asking if they are back together or not. Juliette is unsure about where their relationship is at that particular time. They soon start wearing their wedding rings again.
When he gets an offer to go out on tour he turns it down due to Juliette needing his help as she continues to recover. However, he later changes his mind and tells Juliette he is heading out on tour for seven weeks, reassuring her that she will be fine caring for Cadence on her own. She is initially upset about this but soon comes to terms that she needs to let him follow his dreams. In the season finale, he learns that she has withdrawn her AMA nomination after admitting to stealing the song meant for Maddie and returns home to be with her and Cadence, although he does not show any anger over this.
Several months later, as Juliette continues to suffer from bouts of depression, Avery takes her away for a weekend trip where she meets a charismatic man named Darius Enright. She eventually contacts him after seeing a report about him being a motivational speaker and decides to meet with him. He tells her that he could help cure her unhappiness but Avery is skeptical that she may be getting herself involved in a cult. She continues to help out and is told that she must leave her old life behind to achieve true happiness. Avery wakes up one night to find her gone and discovers that she is not answering her phone. He eventually tracks her down to Bolivia but when he shows up she tells him that she will not be returning home to be with him and Cadence, which leaves him devastated. He also forms a new group with Will Lexington, Gunnar Scott and a singer-songwriter called Alannah, calling themselves The Last Highways.
He eventually removes his wedding ring and Alannah has a heart-to-heart with him about an abusive relationship she was in before she decided enough was enough. However, in the series finale, he decides to reunite with Juliette and moves in with her and Cadence in their countryside house.
Solos (In a Group Number)