By Andrew Gilhooley / 411
There’s no denying that country music is truly the music of the people. With songs about the everyday things that we all relate to so strongly, melodies we can all sing along to and stars that seem like real people, country’s popularity continues to endure and grow. Chris Cagle, one of country’s fastest rising stars, is visiting Monterey this coming week to play a show at Doc Rickett’s Lab. His brand of blue-collar country rock is currently receiving rave reviews in the country music press, and the single “Chicks Dig It” from his latest CD is climbing the Billboard country chart.
As far as country singers go, Chris Cagle is the genuine article. Not only does he sing about the everyday life of the common man, he has lived it. He has worked as a mechanic, a cook, a bartender and a house framer among other jobs, and is proud of all of it. “I am absolutely a redneck,” he said, “But being a redneck is a good thing. It has to do with passionate pride in your country, in your people. These are hardworking, live-and-let-live people who just wanna get the most out of life… working hard and then when that line is crossed, standing up for what you believe in.”
Chris Cagle was born in Louisiana, but moved to the outskirts of Houston, Texas when he was four. He took guitar lessons at age six, but had trouble playing because his hands were still too small and gave up after a year. His debut as a singer came when he was in fourth grade. He and two friends sang “Greased Lightning” from the show “Grease” at a school talent show. The reaction of the audience showed the young Cagle what his life path would be. “Everybody went wild and that was it,” he said. “I had to figure out a way to get more of that.”
By the time Cagle got to high school, he was taking piano lessons, and he took up the guitar again after receiving one for Christmas. Once he had his guitar, he gained a curious introduction to the art of writing songs. His parents were strict Southern Baptists who did not allow rock music in the house, so Cagle had to be creative if he wanted to play his favorite songs. “The way I learned to write was I would play Journey’s ‘Stone In Love,’ but I would make up lyrics taken from the Bible.”
At age 19, Cagle dropped out of college to pursue music full-time and moved to Nashville. He worked odd jobs by day and played music at night. While working at a restaurant he met Donna Duarte, who liked his demo tape and said she would play it to her boss. Her boss turned out to be the president of Virgin Records Nashville, and soon Cagle was recording his debut album “Play It Loud,” which eventually achieved platinum sales.
Cagle released his second, self-titled CD in April of this year and is currently on tour to promote it. He is happy to be doing what he loves best. “See, making the music is where I feel most alive. There’s no feeling like it in the world and it drives me. I wouldn’t have called the record Chris Cagle if I didn’t think it reflected all of that.”
First published in "411", The Salinas Californian, December 4, 2003
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