5 Things to Know About Chase McDaniel

Chase McDaniel delivered one of the most talked about performances at Live In The Vineyard Goes Country in April. A powerful set that delivered both musically and emotionally, McDaniel received two standing ovations during his four-song performance at Napa Valley’s Nickel & Nickel Winery where he spoke openly about his past struggles and how writing songs saved his life.

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[RELATED: Lauren Alaina, Brandy Clark and Jimmie Allen Debut New Music at Live In The Vineyard Goes Country]

Ahead of his Live In The Vineyard debut, the newly signed Big Machine Records recording artist sat down with American Songwriter and shared his journey as a songwriter and the story behind the poignant “Your Daughter.”

“If I feel like a weight has been lifted after I write a song, that’s usually a good sign,” he tells American Songwriter. “The power of music is what’s most important to me now.”

Below are five things to know about McDaniel.

Josh Turner is an early influence

“I’m from a small town in Kentucky. Music was my first love. My great-grandpa gave me a Josh Turner CD when I was eight years old and it was there for me when the world wasn’t kind. I had a connection to music, that in all truth, saved my life. So now, I try to make music that can offer that experience for somebody else who might be experiencing a world that’s troubling, making them dizzy, trying to walk, stand up straight and carry on.

“I want to make music that is dynamic in the sense that you can dance to it and also, it makes you feel something powerfully healing. So that’s my approach and it’s why I love country music.”

[RELATED: Lauren Alaina Talks New Music at Live In The Vineyard Goes Country: “It Represents Me As a Woman”]

He writes from an “unreasonably honest” place

“I think the only thing that I can do is to be so true to myself that it’s almost wrong. I try to write from personal experience. I’ve been very lucky, I think, to tap into some things that other people haven’t talked about or haven’t said. It’s resonated with an audience that [has] maybe been underrepresented in this genre because that was also me. There were things that I wanted to hear, things that needed to be said, to be told that I’ve never got. It’s really important for me to be unreasonably honest.”

His start as a songwriter

“The first time I picked up a guitar I wrote a song. It was so instinctual. I didn’t even think about it. … I saved up money mowing grass and I bought this guitar that was like $150 bucks. No one told me to do it. No one explained that this is how it works. That’s just what I did. [Songwriting has] been a way for me to communicate and that’s probably why I still take that approach today.

“I’m just communicating. It’s the only way I know how to talk I guess. I was probably 15 [when I wrote my first song]. I’d stay in my room for seven, eight hours. Every now and again my grandma would knock on the door, just make sure I was okay. [My grandparents] encouraged me in the way that they didn’t tell me to stop.”

He built his career independently

“I came from nothing in Kentucky. I came from a very modest family. I didn’t come to town with $50,000 in my pocket to record an EP and so I just had to work my tail off. COVID hit, I had $7 in my bank account. I was ready to move home. I called up my grandma crying saying, ‘Hey, I’m really sorry, but I couldn’t make our dream happen.’ My friend lent me some money to stay a couple more weeks, and I fought him on it. I got a job bussing tables two weeks later. They were like, ‘How many shifts you want?’ I said, ‘Every single one of them.’ Worked my way up to waiting tables and then bartender.

“I saved up enough money to record one song. I said, ‘This is my last shot.’ If I’m to have a purpose and make an impact in this world, this is what I feel like it is. I just gave it everything I had and the only thing I knew to do was social media. I didn’t have any other pathways that were visible. So, I put all of my marbles into that basket. I threw away Plan B. I threw away any other options for my life. I said, ‘This is my purpose. This is what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna make it work.’ Since then, I’ve had unbelievably amazing people come into my life who believe in the music that I’m making, which I think is so much more important than the numbers and the followers. The reason the numbers and followers are there is because there’s been a connection that has been made because of the music.”

[RELATED: Jake Owen on New Music at Live In The Vineyard Goes Country: “There Is a Full Project Coming”]

“Your Daughter” holds more meaning to him now than when he first wrote it

“It’s hard for me to write about something until I’m almost over it because then I have a vantage point, a perspective on it that’s redemptive in a way. I have a lot of songs that are unreleased because I only have, I think five or six songs out right now. I think ‘Your Daughter’ holds a special place in my heart and always will. Most people think it’s about an ex-girlfriend or girlfriend and actually I wrote it about my sister.

“Growing up, our dad was an addict and he let go of his life when she was seven. I was the oldest and so I watched her grow up in that environment. I had nobody to talk to either, so we were there for each other. Writing that song was a way for both of us to heal. Now, I play that song live and people are singing back the words and then coming up to me at meet and greet and telling me how that song saved their life. You see how music does that and you’re like, ‘This is all that matters.’”

(Photo Credit: LITV/JETBLACK/Alec Savig/Courtesy of Aristo Media)

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