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Interview: Meet CMT’s Music City Madness Winner Chance McKinney

Independent singer/songwriter, Chance McKinney, who won CMT’s Music City Madness and has been on tour with Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, Lynyrd Skynyrd and many more had a fan base that launched #DownToGetUp into the Top 50 on iTunes Country Album Chart almost immediately. Now, he’s been working on new music that will come out this Friday (May 18th) and we had the opportunity to sit down with him and discuss the new album and what makes him tick as an artist…get to know more about Chance here!

On which Country artist had the biggest influence on his music… 

Trace Adkins. He blazed the trail for guys like me. I did some shows with him a couple years ago and most of the time I’m not super star-struck when I meet up with the headliner, but for some reason, all I could muster when we ran into each other backstage was a handshake and a “sup?” He was nice. Shook my hand and told me to have a good show. By the way, he still kills it on stage. He’s a worthwhile watch and his sound live is unreal.

On the inspiration behind his new EP “I”…and what do he hopes fans take away from the project…

The “inspiration” behind “I”… interesting, I hadn’t thought of that before. It’s actually not even an “I”… it’s a 1. A Roman Numeral I. On that same note, we’ve got VIII more of these comin’ in the next III years so hold onto your britches! As far as the “inspiration” behind I, let’s just say it’s the coming out party for “I”ndustr”I”al”I”zed Country. Okay… I’ll stop. #IndustrializedCountry is what I’ve been branding up in the Pacific Northwest since the CMT win a few years back. So, we’re just tryin’ to represent it as best we can as it moves to a national audience.

On winning CMT’s Music City Madness for unsigned artists… 

The CMT win is really the doors it opened (a CMT Studio 330 filming, shows with Dwight Yoakam, Blake, Luke, etc) and the first dip for me in the national spotlight. When folks ask me what it meant, I have to tell ‘em “it’s all about what you make of it.” Nobody was lining up to sign me to a label. Nobody offered me national radio airplay. Nobody (but the people I was already working with) went out of their way to pave a path for me. It DID give me more recognition when booking shows and helping with charitable organizations, but the competition itself was what I made of it.

On being a Country music artist in the Pacific Northwest…

Originally from Montana, I just happen to live in the Seattle area at the time I won the CMT thing. So, getting “into” country considering I’m originally from Montana isn’t all that much of a stretch. My “path” into the industry is a little strange though. I actually moved to Seattle out of college (working for the Seattle Seahawks). Not long afterward, I was picked up by a Motown group that began touring up and down the West Coast and all throughout Canada. We even went as far as the Virgin Islands and Australia for shows. Crazy stories. First EVER dip into “live” performance. However, when I started writing music, it all came out country… and not very good country at that. I was terrible. But I did cut a CD with 9 of the first 13 songs I’d ever written. I was so proud. I marched that into the 7th largest country station in the nation and somehow landed a meeting with the Program Director. She told me it was pure crap and that I’d have to get better. Little did I know that two weeks later she’d call me with an offer to open for Kenny Chesney on a parking lot stage for 7000 people.

On specific moments/events that stand out as a significant turning point in his Country music career… 

I’d say there have been a bucket load of turning points along the way. I’d have to say some of the most recent were writing “Down To Get Up” in the spring of 2016… deciding to cut another CD that summer… releasing the “Boys’ll Be Boys” video that went over a million views in the summer of 2017… the Detlef Schrempf Gala and what that lead to… finding teams that believe in me and my music this past winter… adding a Nashville team to my pre-existing Pacific Northwest team… the upcoming release of “I”… you name it. One thing leads to another to another and then all of a sudden you find yourself riding a wave of momentum and just trying not to lose your edge on the board. I’m sure in 6 months, I’ll have a whole other list of turning points I can point to.

On receiving any accolades from any groups or persons that he highly values… 

The ones that stick out the most are Troy Gentry and Dierks Bentley. Troy used to watch every one of our shows with them from side stage, just out of view of the audience. He’d be the first one there to shake my hand with a smile and a compliment every time. Kinda hit me in a soft spot when he passed this last year. Dierks pulled me aside after our week’s worth of shows a couple years ago. Told me to “keep at it” and “do whatever it is you’re doing (referring to Industrialized Country), it’s working for ya.”

On collaborating with any artist, country or any other genre, who it would be… 

Chance the Rapper. Seriously… I think it’d be amazing. He might think otherwise, but I’d be totally stoked. If anyone in hip-hop/rap could figure out how to incorporate a baritone country singer… it’d be him.

On his favorite/craziest moment on tour so far…

I’ve told the Kenny Rogers story… the Dierks story… the Montgomery Gentry story, but the CRAZIEST story is the Lynyrd Skynyrd show I did with ‘em a few years back. It was a pretty unique situation. I’d been put in the support slot for Skynyrd and signed by the venue. Apparently, their manager had no idea that I’d been contracted for a 45-60 minute show. At 30 minutes, he runs out onto the stage during our set giving us the “thumb across the throat” signal. I mean, he’s probably within 15 feet of me, on stage, in full view, giving me the cut. The audience had no idea what was going on. We were actually in the middle of a great set. However, I looked at him… held up my hand and the drummer buttoned the song mid-way through the 3rd chorus of ‘So Called Life’. I remember unplugging, waving to the crowd, hustling off stage and heading back to the green room. There are so many moving pieces at a concert, sometimes contract details can get lost in the mix. All I know is that I had a blast opening for Lynyrd Skynyrd… the crowd was amazing… and I’d even let their manager run on stage every night if it lead to a repeated engagement.

On what can his fans can expect from him next…

Surprises. There are a lot of surprises on the way and I’d like to keep it like that. So many people have been so true to me for the past several years that they deserve to ride this ride. I’ve always been pretty transparent with what’s going on, so I’m gonna let there be a little mystery in this and let it unfold as it will. I just hope they enjoy what they’ve helped me attain.

A fun fact/story about him fans definitely do not know… 

Not really a fun story… but a fact…I had my appendix out a couple years ago. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and being crumpled over, unable to stand. I threw on a pair of basketball shorts and drove to the hospital with my feet up on the dash of my truck. I used my cruise control buttons to accelerate/decelerate at 2:00 am and rolled into the Emergency parking lot with a small thud. It’s amazing how creative you can get when you’re too embarrassed to ask for help or call an ambulance.

Be sure to check him out and to stay up-to-date on what’s going on with Chance, visit his website and follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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2 Responses to Interview: Meet CMT’s Music City Madness Winner Chance McKinney

  1. Pearl Sumpter May 17, 2018 at 11:43 am #

    Just love this guy and all the new (and old) music!! I’ve been fortunate enough to be from the PNW and watch this ride as one of those crazy fans!!! Thanks for the story. Love it.

  2. Marie jensen May 17, 2018 at 12:00 pm #

    First saw this guy opening for Ronnie Dunn. I thought why is he an opener, hes good enough to be the opening act! That was 6 years ago and hes only gotten better. A true talent here!

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