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5 Questions with singer-songwriter Edwin McCain

POSTED: January 27, 2011 12:30 a.m.
/For The Times

Edwin McCain will perform with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Feb. 10 in Atlanta.

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For the fourth time, Southern soul man Edwin McCain will perform his chart-topping love songs in a Valentine's concert with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

Edwin McCain, a native of Greenville, S.C., is most notable for pop ballads "I'll Be" and "I Could Not Ask For More." He now has a new album, "Mercy Bound," soon to be released, and another new song getting rave reviews, "Walk With You."
The performance with the ASO will feature 10 songs for a 90-minute contemporary show at Atlanta Symphony Hall.
Even though the band has performed there before, McCain said he's always nervous.

"It's never old hat for me; I'm always a wreck," he said. "Symphonic players have to spend so much time with their instrument and it's very complicated music. It's always nerve-wracking.

"It's a different league. We ride around on our bus and act like 12-year-olds, ya know."

Recently, Times contributor Ashley Bates had a chance to speak with McCain about the concert with the ASO, his upcoming album and where he got his start.

Question: How did you get paired up with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for a Valentine's show?

Answer: I've had the blessing of having two songs that were used in weddings, so the Valentine's show has been a staple for us in Atlanta. A few years back, we had our music charted for symphony, and a lot of the symphonies around the country like to have alternative programming. Although I must admit that sometimes it's a little terrifying for me because I don't read music, so I have to practice the arrangements over and over again so I can hold on.

To be honest, it's a real honor and a privilege to be able to play with players of this caliber. I've been to see the symphony and they are amazing musicians ... they're doing me a huge favor playing contemporary music.

Q: Tell me the story behind your new hit "Walk With You?"

A: The genesis of the song a friend of mine's daughter was getting married, and he called me and asked me if I would write him a song for his daughter for the wedding. I started trying to put my head around that moment, but at the same time my wife was pregnant with our third child, Tiller. We knew it was a girl, so there was a lot of a dual moments that crept into my thinking. I got with my writing partner, Maia, and it kind of popped out. She had a melody, and I had the idea for the song ... it was one of those nice ones that happened in like 20 minutes.

Q: How do you feel about being dubbed a romantic musician?

A: I guess those are the two songs I'm most known for but I've also got songs out that are about darker subjects. I think as a songwriter, how people find out about you is how you will always be known. I'm happy people refer to me as a musician and not the college drop-out that I am. I've been very grateful, lucky and blessed all at once. We just keep riding the ride and it seems to keep going. I love it as much as I ever did.

Q: You are working on a new album. What is the album focus and inspiration?

A: I think it's a good snapshot of the last three years of my life. Some of the songs Maia wrote and brought to me, and they say what I've been meaning to say. I write with her exclusively. To have someone in my life that knows me as well as she does, it's almost not fair, because she'll write the song and I'll be like "you're killing me, stop writing my life." One of the things that I've learned, too, is that I don't have to write all of the songs. I've done that for so long, it's important to me to acknowledge someone else's talent. I don't always have to force my will.

Q: I heard you played for the first time at a Wild Wing Cafe in Hilton Head, S.C. Is that where you got your start?

A: Absolutely. It wasn't the first place, but it was in the very early days. The first place I started playing was a Mexican restaurant in Charleston called San Miguel's, it's not there anymore. I moved to Hilton Head and I was playing outside of the Holiday Inn at the Tiki hut ... then I ended up at Wild Wings. I will say this, I stayed at Wild Wings and played with them for I don't even know how many years. It (Wild Wing) didn't really start out as a music thing - but I'm gonna jump out here and take a whole bunch of credit for that — I was probably one of the first musicians they had there and we grew together.



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