Chase Rice comes to Erie

Category:  News
Wednesday, April 27th, 2016 at 11:13 PM
Chase Rice comes to Erie by Britton Rozzelle
Photo | Macala Leigey

Chase Rice is someone with a variety of skills and talents.

He’s known in pop-culture from “Survivor: Nicaragua” and known by NASCAR fans as a former member of the Hendrick Motorsports pit crew, but he’s a musician at the heart of it all.

Hailing from the southern states, Rice, jack-of-all-trades, brought his own brand of country music to the Erie area as part of the “Back to College” tour, a spring concert event put together by students from Edinboro University and Gannon University.

Before his newfound success as a musician or even landing his job with NASCAR, Rice was a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was recruited on a full scholarship for football — a sport that propelled him through his double major of management and society and communications.

“When I was in college, I had my sights on the NFL. Football was my life and I worked really hard at it. I think if I had kept going, I probably could have made it, but then I got injured and had to start thinking about something else. Music was there for me,” he said.

“When I was in college, I started playing guitar just for fun, really. I played for my friends and my family, but eventually my dad told me that if I wanted to get the girls, I had to go out and sing — so I did.”

Rice continued, “After he passed away, during my senior year of college, music became an outlet for me to deal with that loss, and I found my voice and discovered it was something I really wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

Before his music career really took off though, Rice’s athlete status helped him get a job post graduation.

“The job at Hendrick actually came when a buddy of mine from UNC, Chris Burkey, joined their pit crew development program,” Rice said. “At the time, they were trying to recruit more athletes to work on their pit crews, because it’s such a physically demanding job and they wanted people who had proven to have that kind of stamina and adaptability.”

With the ability to work in the crew a non-issue, Rice reflected on his time with his father while working with the team.

“I’ve always been a fan of NASCAR. My dad was actually a racer and we grew up watching Dale Earnhardt, Dale Jr., Tony Stewart, all those guys,” he added. “But, my heart was in music, so eventually I knew I had to move to Nashville and chase that dream.”

From small beginnings, Rice has now completed three headlining tours with various artists, and supported one of his idols, Kenny Chesney, on tour. This one, alongside supporting acts Jon Langston and Lacey, “takes me back to others,” according to Rice, referencing the start his group had in Nashville in clubs, bars and smaller venues.

In addition to successful tours, Rice’s single “Ready Set Roll,” and the album it appeared on, “Ignite the Night,” has brought a new level of visibility to his work.

“‘Ready Set Roll’ has been huge for us, because it was our first song on country radio and will always be special because it was our first hit. I wrote it with Rhett Akins and Chris DeStefano, who also produced my last album,” he said. “I don’t know if you can ever expect a song to blow up the way that it has, but it definitely changed my life and I have my fans and listeners to thank for that.”

“And it was pretty cool to get my first platinum plaque as a solo artist for that song,” Rice added.

While many think music defined as “country” is just about barn parties, pickup trucks and beer, Rice thinks there’s something else in the genre that brings people together, something that has helped him find his sound and audience as a musician.

“I think as both a songwriter and artist, you just hope your music and your art connect with people — that’s the great thing about music. Everybody hears it and interprets it in their own way, but it brings people together in a way that nothing else really can,” he said. “Songs like 'Ready Set Roll,' 'Do It Like This,' 'Ride' — those are for the good times. And then there are people who show up and maybe they’re going through a rough time in their lives. Maybe they lost someone or they’re just feeling a little lost themselves. I’ve been there too, and songs like 'Jack Daniels & Jesus' or 'Carolina Can,' those are the songs that go a little bit deeper and acknowledge some of those harder, darker moments in our lives.”

“Not everyone is going to love my music, and that’s OK — but it’s who I am, and I just hope that whatever it is, it makes them feel something.”

Britton Rozzelle is The Arts Editor for The Spectator and he can be reached at

Additional Photos:

Photo | Macala Leigey

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