Chris Cummings

The Artist Who Interviews

(June-July 2009)
Artist who interviews

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An Interview with Country Music Star Chris Cummings

Chris 1

Music has always been a part of you, even performing at the age of five, describe your beginnings in music. How has your family been an influence?
I come from a somewhat musical family. Many of the Cummings side of the family play instruments and sing, but not in public. I believe I got my nerve to get on stage from my Mothers side of the family. Beyond that, they were very supportive of my interest in music and spent a lot of their time travelling with me to shows until I was 17.

Signed to a label at 17, taken out of Math class because you had a call from Warner Brothers. What went through your mind at that moment?
I actually thought it was a practical joke because it was so completely out of the blue. I wondered if my Manager was playing a joke on me until later that day when another call from Warner Bros. came for me at my house.

A week later you were on the Ralph Emery show and then touring with country stars. Knowing what you know now, how would a person prepare for so much, so quickly?
It is impossible to prepare. I think I actually had an advantage because I was so young and didn't realize what I was getting into; it was easier to take it one day at a time rather than being able to see the big picture of what was to come.

Chris 2

Name some of the country legends that you've worked with so far.
Performers George Jones, Garth Brooks, Dwight Yoakam, Tammy Wynette, Martina McBride, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill to name a few. Legendary songwriters Don Schlitz, Mac McAnally, Gary Burr and many others.

Out of all musicians past and present, who have been the greatest musical influences on you?
Don Schlitz is the most influential songwriter and I have always loved his work as recorded by a variety of singers. I would also name Merle Haggard, Randy Travis and Bryan Adams as big influences for me.

From all your songs to date, which ones have been your greatest accomplishments so far?
Officially "Kind of Heart that Breaks" has the most success at radio for me peaking at number one and staying in the top 10 for 14 weeks. My personal favorite was "Betty" which was a top 5 single and had an "Archie" comics theme to it, it was cool to be able to put an unconventional love song into the top 5 on country radio.

Chris 3

Your revision of John Sebastian's "Welcome back," indeed reflects your move back to the Maritimes (Saint John, NB). What were your motivations for both "Welcome Back" and moving back?
I knew after being gone for 15 years that I wanted to come back to Canada to live. Fortunately the advances in technology now allow musicians to do most of what they need (recording, radio, etc…) from anywhere they choose to. NB became a viable place for me to be located again. Upon arriving and hearing of the Province's ambitions to attract former residents back to the area for the many projects coming to the Province. The idea to use the song Welcome Back came to mind; I had always liked the song and had considered recording it years earlier, just never seemed to be the right time. I moved back home and decided to record it and film the video here to help bring positive attention to my home Province.

Premier Shawn Graham has titled you as "Ambassador to New Brunswick." Are there any upcoming plans with promoting the province and Maritime talent?
The title was a complete surprise to me, I am honored they considered me to be an ambassador. I've been talking about the reason we did Welcome Back in all the media interviews I have done since then and will likely be talking about it and New Brunswick for some time to come.

The short version is, after I recorded the song "Welcome Back" and filmed the video for it, the creator of the "Welcome Back Kotter" TV series contacted me. He had heard about my version of the song and video via the Internet.

He asked me to send him a copy plus my other music and videos; apparently he liked what we did with Welcome Back because now we are working together collaborating on a TV series idea he has. He is a major Hollywood producer and is also Manager for the Jonas Brothers so it is a very exciting time for me.

Welcome Back

Please describe the genre of your new CD, what can fans expect?
The new project is actually an 8 song EP that includes 5 new songs as well as 3 of my older hits that are no longer in print. Musically 2 of the singles are fairly traditional country and the 3rd takes its cue from my love of 80's rock.

What does writing music mean to you? How do you prepare and what motivates you?
I've always considered myself a songwriter first. It doesn't matter who is singing it if the song is bad, the material comes first. I get most of my ideas from observations from other people I meet and things I see in the world around me. Inspiration is everywhere

Personal versus public life: is there a difference between these for you?
I value my personal time and space. I tend to be more casual in my personal life but I am generally the same person all the time.

Chris 4

You've been described as having a good heart, what organizations/causes (humanitarian or otherwise) do you support?
I have supported Plan Canada for years. This year I was invited to take part in the Kidney Foundation of Canada's "A Brush of Hope" campaign. Artists, musicians, actors, politicians etc…create a painting which is then auctioned on eBay to raise funds for the Foundation.

Besides that I help out a variety of local charitable events and have helped out organizations that support animal welfare like Paws for the Cause. Most recently it was the Saint John Animal Rescue League. During our video shoot in Saint John we featured a "hard to place" dog from the ARL in hopes of getting her adopted. After the shoot she did find a new home plus the ARL raised more than $1200.00 in donations.

In many of your videos, there's often a story built in and even humor, would it be fair to say that you have a mischievous side?
Yes, I like to bring humor in if the song allows for it at all, often making fun of or referencing pop culture.

Is there a future interest (or plans) in film making?
Possibly, I have always been interested in films and TV. If I got the chance to work on a series or movie I would definitely consider it if the part was right for me.

I recently returned from Toronto where I met with the aforementioned movie producer in person to discuss ideas for TV series pitch. While there I auditioned for a part in his upcoming movie. It was a different experience for me; auditioning for an acting role in front of 4 people was more high pressure than singing in front of 4000.

What advice could you share for artists just starting out in the country music scene? Find the absolute best material that you can find. Learn to write songs and make sure the demos that you are pitching are original material. Be knowledgeable of whom you surround yourself with in regards to Management, publishing labels, etc...

Chris Cummings on MySpace
Chris on MySpace

Thank you Chris!


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