My Story / Bio

Derrick McKee in Concert

When I was very young, my dad introduced me to music. While my mom was at work, he would bust out my toy microphone stand and guitar, my shades, and the camcorder. We would pass the time rocking out to whatever he was listening to in 1986.

When I was 7, I wrote my first song with my cousin, Tracy. The song sucked, made no sense whatsoever, and only had a chorus, but I can still remember the lyrics and the melody to this day. I had an uncle who was influential at the local radio station, and I pitched it to him. He told me it “showed promise,” and to keep at it.

In 1996, I took St. Michael’s Parish School by storm when I sung the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. theme song at the 5th grade talent show. I didn’t know how to play any instruments at that point, so the only part people talk about to this day is when I walked around on stage snapping my fingers to the beat during the excessively long guitar solo.

In 1998, after having taken the previous year’s talent show off, I came back with a vengence, 12-string guitar and all. I had learned my lesson. You weren’t cool unless you strummed those chords. This time I brought the house down with a solo acoustic cover of Green Day’s “Time of Your Life”.

After that, the fuse was lit. I started listening to bands like Counting Crows, The Wallflowers, Third Eye Blind, Matchbox 20, Goo Goo Dolls, Gin Blossoms, and Oasis. I learned their hits, and started performing at open mics.

After a few cover gigs, I started writing my own songs. The first few picked up where that horrible first song at age 7 left off, but by the time I graduated high school I had gotten much, much better. So much so that my debut LP, Live From the Livingroom, is still the all-time best seller in the history of Wheeling Central Catholic High School.

After my freshman year at West Virginia University, I attended a summer-long recording studio school, where I learned enough to be dangerous. A few months later, I rented studio space and recorded my 5-song EP, Blue Skies Mourning. I used the EP to form an alt-rock band under the same name, and for two years we rocked more Morgantown, WV bars, house parties, and tailgates than anyone had a right to.

Once we broke up, I went back to those early songs and re-wrote some of them, along with a few new ones. I booked more studio time, and spent most of my final semester of undergrad recording my first full-length album, Ticket to Somewhere. After a summer of live shows promoting the album as best I could, I entered grad school, where I used the album to win a $10,000 grand prize in a statewide business plan competition.

That’s when things got nuts, and by nuts I mean my brother dragged me to a four-day country music festival affectionately referred to as Jambo. I don’t know if it was the Bud Light or the talent, all I know is I fell in love with country music during those four magical days. I started studying it, playing it, writing it, and singing it. Next thing I know, I’m recording a country LP, Drive Until Daylight, and talking to banks about business loans!

I swung for the fences that year. I hired a radio promotion firm, released a single to stations nationwide (“My Biggest Fan Is My Mom”), played gig after gig (the most unusual one was when I opened for Flo Rida), and had a general blast. Unfortunately, most 23 year old musicians don’t know much about running their own business, and my record label, Navway Records, went up the creek without a paddle.

Since that all happened in 2009, I’ve laid pretty low, musically. Some of it was by choice (I was bitter, burnt out, and in need of a break), some of it was by necessity (it’s tough to spend money on recording new songs when you’re still paying off the old ones), and some of it was simply changing priorities (I met my wife, and had a blast with her). I can honestly say all of it was for the best at the time.

But, it’s almost 2014, and after nearly 5 years away I’m getting that musical itch again! I’m very excited to jump back in, because I feel like a lot has changed since my last release. Internet radio is huge, social media is everywhere, fans can easily share their favorite music with friends without having to loan a copy of a $15 album, and home-recording technology make music production easier and more affordable than ever! It’s a new playing field, and it’s located in a stadium where everyone is welcome.

Unlike my last go around, I don’t have any grand visions these days. Forget about being the next Brad Paisley, or John Mayer, or whatever. I really just want to record new music, release it for free via this site, and build a fan base that enjoys my music. Hell, maybe play some gigs here or there, and just see where the whole thing goes… organically.

So, for now, if you’ve listened to my music and have enjoyed it, I would love it if you would sign up for my mailing list. It will allow me to keep in better touch with you, figure out if gigs in a specific city are possible, and get this ball rolling again. On top of that, you’ll receive free digital copies of my music. Can’t beat that, right?

Thanks for visiting this site, and for reading about me! Post a little something about yourself in the comments section below.

– Derrick