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Sunday, 16 March, 2008 1:08 PM

CMA New Artist Spotlight: Chuck Wicks

Photo by Joe Hardwick

Chuck Wicks

By Bob Doerschuk
© 2008 CMA Close Up News Service

Next time you pull up to a restaurant in Nashville, look carefully at the valet: That person who took your keys today might be signed to a major record label deal tomorrow. That's what happened with Chuck Wicks, who came to Nashville after growing up on a farm near Smyrna, Del., and attending Florida Southern College.

His dream had been to play pro baseball, but by the time he'd reached his senior year Wicks had traded his bat and glove for a ticket to Nashville. A parking gig paid the rent and bought the time he needed to hone his writing through collaborations with Monty Powell, Rivers Rutherford, George Teren, Neil Thrasher and the Mobley brothers, Mike and Wendell.

Wicks eventually steered himself into a contract with RCA Records, for whom he recorded his debut album, Starting Now, produced by Dann Huff and Powell. As co-writer of all but one of its 11 tracks, Wicks displays a style that's expressive and accessible. On the first single, "Stealing Cinderella," he shows particular sophistication as he switches perspectives, from his own to that of the father of the girl he hopes to marry; through lyrics that pass by like snapshots in the pages of a photo album, he fuses these viewpoints into one vivid picture.

Wicks' baritone voice brings these top-notch tunes to life, pouring like honey over occasional patches of sandpaper. It's the kind of voice that's sure to put Wicks in the driver's seat from now on.

IN HIS OWN WORDS:

SONG YOU WANT TO COVER
"'One Last Cry,' by Brian McKnight."

SONG YOU WISH YOU WROTE
"'I Will Always Love You.'"

BOOKS ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND
"The Bible and Us Weekly.

CD IN YOUR STEREO
"I just finished my record so, sadly, I've been listening to myself, looking for mistakes. Oops, just found one. I'm a perfectionist."

LUCKY CHARM
"My faith."

TITLE OF YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY
"Why Me?"

YOUR MUSICAL HERO
"I grew up listening to what we now call the '80's station. and was influenced by all kinds of music. Whether it was Chicago, Journey, Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks or one of my favorite singers, Brian McKnight. So I guess my musical hero was just great music.

YOUR PET PEEVE
"Negative people."

WORD OR PHRASE YOU REPEAT OVER AND OVER AGAIN
"Awesome."

MODE OF TRANSPORTATION YOU PREFER
"Private jet even though I've never been on one yet . but I do drive a Truck."

MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE WOULD YOU RELIVE IF YOU COULD
"Nothing. I love to remember and then look forward to the future."

On the Web: www.chuckwicks.com

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