Wrestler’s redemption

Country singer Chad Brock gets real

Though he currently resides in Nashville and makes his living singing mainstream country, Chad Brock once had a very different life. Based in Atlanta, Brock once appeared regularly at Center Stage in Midtown, where he was a WCW wrestler. Soon, though, the double life became a drag and something had to give. “I just didn’t want to be a gimmick, you know, the wrestler who also sings,” Brock says from his current home in Music City. “Besides, I got hurt, and that’s no fun.” As with the world of wrestling, Nashville country these days often seems based on image and make believe. Brock, however, wants to separate himself from what he calls “belly button artists” and carve his own niche with a more down-to-earth, traditional country style.

“I take this business a day at a time, it simply makes sense. I try to pick songs that reflect what I believe in and what the fans like to hear. There was a time when some in the music industry focused on the image, but the reality is the focus on the song. Traditional country seems to be where I belong and the response from the fans seems to verify that. We’re just not about pop.”

Signed to Warner Brothers since 1994, Brock has recently emerged as one of the influential forces in country music. Since the release of Yes a few months ago, Brock seems to have sky-rocketed into the highest ranks of the genre. “Radio has also been good to me,” he says. “In this time when so many stations thrive on crossover, I’m able to remain true to the music I believe in without having doors shut because my sound is traditional.”

A school teacher in Ocala, Fla., encouraged Brock to hone his talents early on, and in 1992 he went to Nashville to pursue a recording contract. “I didn’t think I was ready,” Brock says. “There’s a lot to learn, so I did the traditional thing and played honky-tonks and clubs across the U.S., including the Buckboard County Showcase in Smyrna. Only after going through that whole learning process was I offered the real deal recording contract.”

Now that stardom has come, Brock strives to retain his connection to fans and the music. “I love being accessible to the people, it seems to me that it all should go hand in hand,” he says. “I’m also a fan. With some artists, you have to go through five different people just to talk to them. Man, I like it when I can go to Wal-Mart and have people come up and talk with me. I’m like my music, just a real person singing real music.”

At least one local country radio personality, Johnny Gray (Y106.7 and 101.5), seems to agree. “He’s the best,” says Gray of Brock. “You just won’t find a person that is as true as he is.”

Chad Brock performs at Lake Lanier Islands Waterpark, Sun., Sept. 3, at 6:30 p.m. Admission to the waterpark is $24 ($16 for kids under 42 inches).