Back to Mukilteo… what a “welcome home.”
McKinney and the band CrossWire are scheduled to play an all-ages show at the Rosehill Community Center on Friday, Feb. 11, to benefit Kamiak High School’s senior class. It will be the first concert at the new venue.
McKinney, a former math teacher at Kamiak, beat out 63 other unsigned country singer-songwriters to win CMT’s Music City Madness contest in 2009.
Since winning CMT’s contest, McKinney has been touring nationwide, performing most of his shows in the Pacific Northwest.
“I love it,” McKinney said of the change from teaching to performing. “I get to do music for a living.
“It’s huge, really. It’s like being a kid and playing all the time.”
When the Kamiak Grad Knight Committee contacted him about returning to Mukilteo for a benefit concert, he was more than willing to do it.
“We thought this would be a great opportunity for him to come back and see the community again, help the senior class and promote his music,” said Mary Cartwright, chair of the concert.
“Most of the shows are 21 and over, so it’s a rare all-ages opportunity. Most of the places are either bars or casinos.”
All proceeds from the concert go to Kamiak’s Grad Night, an all-night safe and sober party for Kamiak seniors after they graduate.
This is the second concert McKinney has performed to benefit Kamiak. The first was held last January.
Ever since the first benefit concert in Mukilteo, Cartwright and her friend Janet Hammond – they met at the concert – have been Chance McKinney fans. They go to as many shows as they can where they help to manage T-shirt and CD sales for the band.
“I’m proud of them,” she said. “It’s been very fun to say, ‘Wow, we were there from the beginning.’”
McKinney said the concert at Rosehill represents his continued thanks to the 2,200 students at Kamiak for telling friends and family in at least 28 states and five countries to vote for his original song “Be Real.”
“After all of the opportunities they opened up for me in this last year, the least I can do is come back whenever it makes sense to help out any way I can.”
After the first benefit concert, the band immediately started touring. They performed on TV and radio and for venues all over Washington, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Utah – reaching the ears of 13 million in their first week.
In between concerts, they flew to Nashville, Tenn., to film a Studio 330 session for http://www.cmt.com and audition with the Valory Music Co., which signed Reba McEntire.
So far, the band has toured with the likes of Blake Shelton – the CMA male vocalist of the year – as well as Luke Bryan, Lynyrd Skynyrd, 38 Special, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, Pat Green, Jamie O’Neal and more.
With all the touring, McKinney had to resign as a math teacher at Kamiak. He now has places in Washington, Tennessee and Utah, which alternate as his home whether he’s off or on tour.
“It’s been a little bit hectic,” McKinney said. “I’ve been on the road quite a bit.”
Valory held onto McKinney’s signing rights until December – the company decided to sign Rascal Flatts instead of him – so now he’s back on the market, looking for a label. McKinney said they’ve met with several other labels since then.
“There’s a bunch of labels out there,” he said. “It’s just finding the right fit, I mean, who believes in what you’re doing, and we’ll see what shakes out.”
Since last February, the band has added 62 new and original songs to their repertoire. They’ll be performing some of the new songs, some covers and some songs from their CD “Be Real” at the Feb. 11 concert.
Cartwright said the support from the Mukilteo community – and especially the Kamiak High School community – was instrumental in McKinney’s success. The concert is an opportunity to see that success, she said.
“Just to see where he’s gone and where he’s going, and to be a part of that exciting ride,” she said. “In less than a year, he’s gone from being a math teacher to touring nationwide.”
“We’re all a part of the history of the band. I know that sounds corny, but it’s just been really neat. I really think they’re going to go places.”
Advance tickets are $10 for students and $15 for adults, and are available now. All tickets are $15 at the door. For tickets or more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Doors open at 6 p.m. for concessions and raffles; the concert starts at 7 p.m.
Check out Chance McKinney at his Web site http://www.chancemkinney.com or follow him on Twitter @ChanceMcKinney. Download the songs from his “Be Real” CD before the concert at http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/be-real/id354579911.