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INDIAN LAND - Singer, songwriter and recording artist Derek McFarland, who recently released his second contemporary country CD, "I'll Show You Where," performed for neighbors and friends in his BridgeMill community recently, and is ready to share his talents with South Carolina and the rest of the country.
A native of Hartsville, McFarland moved to Lancaster County in 2004 from Nashville, where he was part of the music scene. While there, he recorded his work in the same studios as the Dixie Chicks. In 1998, he was taken under the wing of Amy Grant's personal manager, Jennifer Cook, who helped McFarland get access to studios and people who helped him create his first contemporary Christian CD, "Time to Watch."
"I was able to sell enough CDs the first time to pay for the project," McFarland said. "It allowed me to perform live at events for the Tennessee Titans and NASCAR's Raceway Ministries."
McFarland, who earned a business degree from Clemson University and his MBA from Vanderbilt University, has been working for Sonoco for more than 20 years.
"Music is a hobby for me, not a job," said McFarland, who writes most of his own music. He started playing music after he picked up a guitar his father bought for himself at a yard sale.
"I was playing from kindergarten on," McFarland recalled. "I took everything from classical lessons, to performing with my school band and playing the sax and drums, to being part of a high school garage band known as the Saturated Phats."
McFarland said his ultimate goal is to have a Nashville artist cut one of his songs.
"I would love to hear one of my songs on the radio," said McFarland, who said writing music is one of his greatest passions.
"The great songs you can see and hear," he said. "They paint vivid mental images when you hear them."
McFarland gets his inspiration from a variety of places, and says his writing is almost always spontaneous.
"I have some songs I've been working on for five years, and others that I wrote in a few minutes," he said.
Thumbing through McFarland's songwriting book, which contains everything he's written in the last 10 years, you'll find boarding passes with lyrics scribbled on the back, pieces of hotel stationery with the love song he wrote for his wife, Robyn, "You Sound Good to Me," and lyrics to "I'll Show You Where," which he considers his best song yet.
"It's a song of hope and direction in a time when so many things are wrong in the world," McFarland said.
McFarland likes artists who sing their own material, and believes country music is a format where some of the best stories are told. Some of his favorite musical story tellers are Billy Joel, Vince Gill, James Taylor and Hank Williams.
Released on Valentine's Day, McFarland's second CD includes includes eight songs he wrote himself. With more money to work with this time, McFarland had the best studio and sound engineers, as well as back-up singers collaborating with him on the project.
He and Robyn have started their own record label, Fuzzy Cat Music (www.fuzzycatmusic.com). They have already started working with local artists in the state-of-the-art recording studio at their home.
"We have a world-class vocal booth, and enjoying producing CDs and the recording process," he said.