In his debut CD entitled Play It Loud, Chris Cagle unleashes his unique version of high octane country music that's like an icy glass of Jolt Cola and a pair of well-worn cowboy boots. In the tradition of the Charlie Daniels Band and Travis Tritt, Play It Loud blends the soul of rock and country to create a new sound that remains rough around the edges.
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"I tried to put as much emotion and passion into it as possible because that's who I am," Chris says. "I love deeply and I hurt deeper. I want to create music that people can love to, hurt to, dance to, and always want to listen to." Like many of his generation, Chris was equally influenced by country and rock artists. His biggest influences remain the Doobie Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Eagles, while at the same time he loves the richness of Conway Twitty and the fire of Charlie Daniels. The result of these influences is Chris Cagle's 'new traditional' country music that's a perfect fit for contemporary times.
With his musical palette, Chris creates a portrait that spans the gamut of emotion, from capturing the anticipation of a Friday night out with the boys and the fond remembrances of high school years to the passion of loving a soulmate or the heartbreak of the one that got away. Billboard Magazine describes Chris Cagle's music as "an all-out assault on the senses." The review states, "In a day and time where people seem much too willing to play it safe and release vanilla music, it's nice to hear something that has the blistering energy of a liquored-up bar band on a sweaty Saturday night. Newcomer Chris Cagle unleashes a torrent of vocal intensity on this uptempo debut that is quickly winning support at country radio. This record absolutely commands attention."
Although he was born in Louisiana, he moved to the outskirts of Houston when he was four and soon became immersed in the Texas culture that remains so important to him today. The son of an Exxon supervisor, Chris began guitar lessons at age six, but gave up after a year because it was too difficult for his tiny hands to master the large classical guitar. He continued to sing, however, and made his debut public performance at an elementary school talent show. He and two other fourth graders donned leather jackets, bought with money they earned by mowing yards, and sang "Greased Lightning." "Everybody went wild and that was it," he says. "I had to figure out a way to get more of that."
He took piano lessons throughout high school and began playing guitar again after receiving an Ovation acoustic guitar for Christmas during his senior year. The first song he learned to play was Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird." Raised in a strict Southern Baptist home, he was not allowed to play rock music in the house, so he made a few musical modifications to keep his mother happy. "The way I learned to write was I would play Journey's "Stone In Love," but I would make up lyrics taken from the Bible."
Like most teenagers in Texas, Chris spent a great deal of time on the football field, where he learned the discipline that he applies to his career today. "I spent my entire freshman year in high school on the bench. I decided, however, that by the time I was a senior, I would be on the field playing instead of on the sidelines watching," he says. With his father's encouragement, Chris spent weekends, mornings and summers in the gym. By his senior year, he earned All-District honors as a free safety. "I had to learn technique because I wasn't going to brute strength it," he says. "Teaching me how to be smarter than stronger is exactly what has helped me out in music. My grandfather used to say, 'Do one thing better than anyone else. And when you gamble, bet the ranch, but make sure you bet on yourself.'"
Cagle enrolled in the University of Texas-Arlington, but soon found himself skipping his finance courses to audit music classes. His nights were spent performing in Texas clubs. At 19, he realized he was wasting his time at school and left Texas to pursue music full-time. He moved to Nashville in 1994, spending the next five years performing odd jobs -- from waiting tables and tending bar to being a golf caddy -- all the while polishing his songwriting skills. His writing vastly improved after meeting legendary writer Harlan Howard, who taught Chris how to write a true country song. Howard was so impressed with his student's efforts that he was the first to publish one of Chris' songs. Chris then landed a full publishing deal elsewhere and had songs recorded by David Kersh.
A few years later, Chris met Donna Duarte at a restaurant where he was working. She was really interested in music so Chris invited her to come to the studio to hear him record some demos. Donna heard it and loved it and took it to her boss. Unbeknownst to Chris, she was the assistant to Scott Hendricks, President of Virgin Records Nashville. She played it for Hendricks and Chris soon landed a record deal. "Besides being an ultra-talented writer and artist, there's a lot of passion in his voice and writing," Hendricks says. "He brings an energy to country music that the format desperately needs."
Chris co-produced the album and co-wrote eight of its ten songs. With more passion than polish, the infectious, driving rhythms of "My Love Goes On And On" and "Country By The Grace Of God" capture the rollicking good times of a weekend in Texas. Yet in ballads like "Safe Side," he poignantly captures the gut wrenching longing of a man who lost his love by playing it safe. "Lovin' You Lovin' Me" describes the deep commitment of a mature love that has only grown more powerful with time.
When he's not making music, Chris enjoys spending time at his home on three acres in Pegram, Tennessee. "I have grown to be simple at heart," he says, "and find my freedom in life by knowing my boundaries."
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