It took some serious juggling, balancing school work with late nights in honky tonks and early mornings in class, but as of last week, rising country star Wyatt McCubbin is done with Southeastern High School in South Charleston. He celebrates the occasion by opening for Easton Corbin at Kuss Auditorium in Springfield on Friday.
McCubbin, who turns 18 on Jan. 24, finished school early, wrapping-up testing in mid-January, so he could spend time in Nashville taking advantage of his new publishing deal. He’s excited for the future but admits he has mixed emotions about leaving school and his classmates behind.
“I am done,” McCubbin said. “It’s kind of bittersweet. If I was playing baseball or something, I would’ve finished out the whole year, but there was no reason to just be sitting in a classroom when I could be going back and forth to Nashville and actually doing some work.”
McCubbin has a deep, amazingly rich voice and an almost encyclopedic knowledge of traditional country, thanks to early exposure by his parents and grandfather to distinctive artists such as Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard.
“When I first started playing, I always played electric, but I never took it serious,” McCubbin said. “One day I when I was about 14, I picked up one of grandpa’s old acoustic Fender and just started playing. I just knew a few chords, but I started playing some old Skynyrd stuff acoustic and started messing around singing. It’s obviously been a long, long way since then.”
It didn’t take McCubbin long to go from a 14-year-old kid stumbling through his first Lynyrd Skynyrd cover on his grandpa’s acoustic to a 15-year-old wunderkind wowing crowds in not just Ohio but Nashville as well.
Today, the talented, mature teen, who will be splitting his time between Ohio and Tennessee, knows what he wants and what it’ll take to achieve those goals.
“I’ve seen a lot of different aspects of Nashville,” McCubbin said. “Probably more than a lot of people will ever see. My old management company in Nashville wanted the whole bubblegum pop thing. I left them, and now I can do what I want.
“I’ve seen the commercial side they want you to be, and I’ve seen the real side you can be,” he said. “There’s definitely a huge difference there. I like the traditional aspect. I don’t see myself as an outlaw. You shouldn’t have to be an outlaw to play your own music, if it’s good music.”
Wyatt McCubbin, opening for Easton Corbin
Where: Kuss Auditorium, Clark State Performing Arts Center, 300 S. Fountain Ave., Springfield
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18
More info: (937) 328-3874 or http://pac.clarkstate.edu
Artist info: www.wyattmccubbin.com