Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Journey into country music

Wyatt McCubbin, a Southeastern High School sophomore, is pursuing a music career. He aspires to keep old-style country music alive and kicking.

You could say Wyatt McCubbin got his firstlucky break in seventh grade when he snapped his arm in two playing football.

At about the same time, he decided to take up guitar. His doctors counted the strumming as physical therapy. McCubbin counted it as his new passion. Now, hes hoping for a second break, this time into the country music scene.

“I would love to make great records and meet a lot of my heroes, said McCubbin, who in the two years since his arm injury has nurtured a natural talent for singing, playing and songwriting. With the exception of a few electric guitar lessons early on, he has taught himself to play acoustic guitar by watching YouTube videos. This summer, the 15-year-old Southeastern High School sophomore has taken serious steps to see where his newfound talent can take him.

On Aug. 10, McCubbin will travel to a Nashville sound studio to record some of his original songs. Mark Miller, lead singer for the band Sawyer Brown, will oversee the session. Miller, along with former professional wrestling stars Ron and Don Harris, own O-Seven Artist Management, a company that manages the career of Bucky Covington ofAmerican Idol fame. Ron Harris is now McCubbins manager.

“I had done my own recordings in my living room. This studio session will get the songs together for whatever comes next, McCubbin said. It could be bookings at live music venues or a radio tour to get his music on the air.

“We dont know what will happen. We just have to wait and see, said McCubbins mother, Jerri Kay.

“The industry moves slow because there are so many people in line wanting to do this, McCubbin said.

The young musicians journey started in earnest in early June when one of his grandfathers connections landed him a performance slot in a tribute to the late Merle Kilgore, co-writer ofRing of Fire with June Carter Cash and former manager of Hank Williams Jr.

On the same trip to Nashville, the family connection got McCubbin into a six-stage songwriters festival, the Bluebird Café and other live music venues in country musics capital city.
and see what (the country music scene) is all about, McCubbin said. The recording session and manager acquisition are an outgrowth of that trip.

 In early July, his family hosted a party to introduce McCubbin and his music to the South Charleston area community. Approximately 500 people attended, including special guests from the world of country music, such as Steve Kilgore, Merles son, and Boomer Castleman, who wrote the 1975 hitJudy Mae.

For many, it was the first time theyd heard McCubbin perform. They found out quickly that his deep, mature voice doesnt match his young years. They also found out where his loyalties lie—squarely with traditional country music.

“I love the old stuff because of the new stuff, he said.I listen to Waylon (Jennings) and Willie (Nelson) because they have great songs. They dont make pop records; they sing the real stuff. Hank Williams Sr. is my idol. Hes the biggest reason Im playing acoustic.

At the party, McCubbin sang songs from his self-produced CD,Gotta Long Way To Go. He wrote and played the music for all 13 of the albums songs, laying down guitar, mandolin, harmonica, banjo and bass tracks. He wrote the lyrics for all but three of the songs—one his father, Frank Jr., wrote and two his grandfather, Frank Sr., wrote.

McCubbin says he keeps his lyrics real by writing only about what he truly knows. One of the most personal songs on his CD is the first one for which he put music and lyrics together. Its about his grandfather, Jerry Hampton, who passed away in May 2009.

“He was a carpenter. He got real sick with cancer and near the end, when he was feeling really bad, he started talking about building a house in the sky, said McCubbin, who wroteBig House in the Sky the day his grandfather died. He recorded it two days later. The family played the song at the funeral.

The two originals McCubbin performs most often—whether its for talent shows, open mic nights, gigs at American Legion posts in South Charleston and Wilmington, or on look-and-see trips to Nashville—areGotta Long Way To Go andRoots of Country Music.

The first one is about trying to break into the music industry. McCubbin said he wrote it with himself and his friend, Matt Clarkson, a 2010 Southeastern graduate, in mind.
“Matt and I play together. His whole family plays music, just like my moms whole side of the family does, he said.

InRoots of Country Music, the lyricsomeone better step up before they fade away sums up McCubbins quest. He wants to be one of the guys keeping old-style country music alive.

McCubbin lives with his parents and sister, Emily, in Selma just outside of South Charleston. He plays baseball for Southeastern High School.

To hear McCubbins music, go to He is selling copies of his CD for $10 to help offset his efforts to make it in the music business. To order a CD, send an e-mail to

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