Up-and-Coming Artist of the Year: Warrick McZeke 

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Ruta Smith

Warrick McZeke’s rise has been swift. He only began gigging last year when his just-formed band performed at the Carolina Country Music Festival in June, and just last week Darius Rucker announced his upcoming Hurricane Florence relief concert in Myrtle Beach, with McZeke among the supporting acts.

His musical inclinations started young as he grew up with both his parents leading choirs. “It was a learned behavior; it was innate to sing,” he says. In addition to choir, McZeke’s biggest influences were Boyz II Men and gospel quartets. Later, because of his hectic college schedule, McZeke didn’t really do much musically. “It’s been a roller coaster of me trying to keep up with the dynamics of having a full-time job and transitioning into music.”

But after becoming a language pathologist, he got back into singing, his style then inspired by the likes of Darius Rucker and Lee Brice. “It’s not the traditional twang,” he says of his country-pop style that’s underlined with R&B and soul. The song that helped propel the singer, “Miss Absolutely,” will be on his first EP in early January.

Out now on all major streaming platforms, “Miss Absolutely” made it to the Charleston finals for the Nash Next Competition, after which McZeke assembled some local guys he knew to perform it. Fast forward to his full-band show at the CCMF in June, performing five original songs (plus one cover of Bill Withers’ “Use Me”). And now those same songs are being mastered over at Anchor and Pine Studio, which is run by Midnight City Band frontman Bryan Jarvis. Warrick’s inspiration for this album is his grandmother’s voice saying, “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.” After he locks down a place to do a record release party, then it’s on to booking shows along the Southeast. Warrick says, “When I think of how quickly this has evolved for me, the support has been phenomenal.”


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