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Chuck Shields takes music to ‘Higher Ground’

Mississippi native Chuck Shields mixes country music and rock with a kiss of flamenco guitar in his first album, “Higher Ground,” to tell readers what he’s going through.

“I’m looking for higher ground in my life,” Shields said. “I’m looking for a better life, trying to better myself.”

The cowboy hat, jeans and boots-clad musician who is now a resident of Harrison, said fans have told him he sounds like Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash.

“I’ve even heard George Strait a time or two, and that’s definitely a compliment,” Shields said.

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Mississippi native Chuck Shields mixes country music and rock with a kiss of flamenco guitar in his first album, “Higher Ground,” to tell readers what he’s going through.

Shields turned to Sound Resources studio in East Brainerd to record his album this year after writing most of it in 2008.

“I told myself if I didn’t do it now I would never do it,” Shields said, “but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do for many years.”

Shields founded his own record label, 2 Cowboy Records, to have more control over the distribution process. Plus, he said, it’s more professional when soliciting radio stations and other record companies.

Shields grew up in the Hattiesburg, Miss., area, where he said his farm-raised stepfather made an impression.

He started playing guitar at 12 years old, influenced by Austin, Texas, rock guitarist Eric Johnson.

“I wanted to come to Tennessee to pursue music,” Shields said. “I guess instead of jumping into everything in Nashville, I decided to come to Chattanooga as sort of a neutral ground.”

His Harrison home is a short enough drive to singer-songwriter nights at Nashville Palace near the Opryland Hotel, where he performs his solo act. He said he’ll never forget his first performance there.

“When I got off the stage I was bombarded by songwriters giving me their cards (to collaborate),” he said. “That’s a good feeling.”

Shields said he dreams of touring the country live.

“I’m a very visual person. People want to see what they’re hearing,” he said. “I would love to hit the road.”

Shields is already strumming out a more instrumental second album and plans to film a music video or two for YouTube, which he said he’ll send to Great American Country while he’s at it.

“I’m definitely going down the right path in my career,” Shields said. “I’m definitely focused. And I’m going to be here a long time. Leave my legacy, so to speak.”

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