By Kyle Lovern
NASHVILLE - Chattaroy native Rob Harris is just scratching the surface on his budding music career and hopefully he will have that major break in the near future in Nashville, TN.
Rob attended Chattaroy Grade School and Junior High and then graduated from Williamson High School in 1982. While in high school, he played bass guitar in the WHS marching band – the only one of its kind at the time in the state of West Virginia.
During that time, his love for music got him a part-time job as a disc jockey at WBTH/WXCC radio in Williamson.
Rob is now an aspiring singer-songwriter and has recently released his new CD “Winnebago.”
“I used the crowd-funding website, indiegogo, to launch a campaign to raise money for the project,” Harris said. “Thanks to the kindness and generosity from friends all over the country, we exceeded our goal and received enough money to enlist the help of some of Nashville’s finest studio players.”
One of Rob’s songs “Chattaroy Hollow” has become a local favorite. He reminisces about the place he grew up with heart-warming lyrics.
“Those of us who grew up in Chattaroy have always known what a wonderful place it is. I would love for a major country artist to record the song so that people around the world would hear about the special place we are privileged to call home,” Rob explained.
He performed the song at the King Coal Festival in 2010 and at the annual Chattaroy High School reunion.
“I’m so proud and grateful to have grown up in Chattaroy. I wrote the song while I was a writer with Identical Entertainment. Before I sang it for my publisher (Sheila Bauer) for the first time, I told her it was my story – a very personal song that I wasn’t sure would appeal to anyone other than people who grew up in Mingo County. But after listening to the song, she believed it would have wider appeal than I had originally thought. We made a demo and started pitching it around Nashville. It eventually found its way to the producer for country artist, Craig Morgan, who loved the song and put it on the short list for one of his CD’s. Ultimately, Morgan chose not to record it,” Rob said.
Rob grew up in Chattaroy, the son of Bob and Jean Harris. Bob worked at Persinger Supply Company and Jean was employed at Appalachian Regional Hospital. His sister, Rebecca (Harris) Walker, lives in Charleston, SC.
After graduating from WHS, Rob attended Southern WV Community College, and then graduated from Marshall University in 1986 with a degree in Radio/TV Broadcasting.
After graduating from Marshall University, Rob studied Ministry at Kentucky Christian University in Grayson, KY. Rob is an ordained Pastor and has served as a Worship Minister for nearly fifteen years at churches in Harrodsburg, KY and Franklin, TN.
Over the years, Rob has continued to pursue his music career. He collaborated with the ACM Award-winning country duo, Joey and Rory, to arrange an acoustic waltz version of the rock anthem, “Freebird”, which appeared on Joey and Rory’s debut CD on Vanguard/Sugar Hill Records.
Rob has played guitar for artists who have opened for Sara Evans and Gretchen Wilson. Rob himself has opened shows for Grammy-winning Christian artists Russ Taff, Petra and Audio Adrenalin and Dove Award winners Billy Sprague and Randy Stonehill.
He has worked as a staff songwriter for Identical Entertainment, The Heard Music Group and Rescued Music in Nashville and he is a frequent performer at Nashville-area songwriter venues such as The Listening Room, Puckett’s Grocery and the world famous, Bluebird Café (as featured on ABC’s, “Nashville”).
Rob’s songs have been recorded by major label acts Ivan Parker, Karen Peck, Tim Hicks, The Love Locks and Back Home, as well a variety of Independent Artists.
His song “Greasy John Deere Cap” appears on Tim Hicks’ “Throw Down” CD, which debuted in September as the No. 1 album in Canada across all genres.
Two of Rob’s songs have charted as Southern Gospel radio singles. “Tell the Mountain” (Back Home featuring Karen Peck) reached #17 and “Who I Am Ain’t Who I Was” reached #21 for Ivan Parker.
“Hearts are Made to Give Away,” was a semi-finalist in the 2009 International Song Competition.
Rob has some outstanding musicians who played on his new “Winnebago” CD.
Those musicians who appear on the CD include Danny Rader (lead guitar for Keith Urban and Jason Aldean), Andy Leftwich (fiddle, banjo and mandolin for Ricky Skagg’s Kentucky Thunder), Blair Masters (piano/keys for Garth Brooks, Peter Frampton), Daniel Kinner (drums for Phillips, Craig & Dean), Jacob Lowery (bass guitar for Michael W. Smith, Jeremy Camp and Steven Curtis Chapman) and Buddy Greene on harmonica (Buddy travels with the Bill Gaither Homecoming events and he co-wrote the Christmas classic, “Mary Did You Know”?).
“The CD was produced by my good friend writer/producer, Michael Farren (of the band, ‘Pocket Full of Rocks’),” Rob said
The new CD is available now on iTunes and other digital outlets and features the song, “Chattaroy Holler.”
“Copies of the song have also been given to other artists, including Rascal Flatts, Little Big Town and Garth Brooks. Hopefully, hoping someone will cut it one day,” Rob says of his song about growing up in Chattaroy.
Physical copies of the CD may be purchased through Rob’s website (www.robharrisonline.com). Locally they can be bought at Hatfield- McCoy Exchange on 2nd Ave. in downtown Williamson.
He performs Concerts and leads worship at churches throughout the United States.
Other sites his music can be downloaded from include:
* Twitter: @robharrismusic
(Kyle Lovern is the Sports Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304-235-4242, ext. 33 or Twitter @KyleLovern)