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bucky covington

 

BUCKY COVINGTON

 

Bucky Covington adds a new twist to the notion that winning is everything. The eighth-place finalist on the fifth season of the runaway hit TV show American Idol, Covington has now parlayed that into a burgeoning country music singing career. And that was exactly what he set out to accomplish.

"The main reason I wanted to get on the show was to get enough recognition to start a career," explains the 29-year-old native of Rockingham, North Carolina. He had sung with local bands for the last decade and wanted to get a Nashville record deal, but he wasn't quite sure how to actualize his dream. "I kept wondering: how do people do that? It was kind of like saying I wanted to be a fire truck � almost impossible."

But now he's recording his debut album with Sawyer Brown singer Mark Miller as the producer and singing on the 20-date GAC Country Music Christmas Tour alongside Deana Carter, Julie Roberts, Blue County and Steve Azar. With his first single slated for an early 2007 release, Covington is on his way to seeing his dreams come true.

He's a genuine good ole Southern boy with oodles of down-home charm that grew up in the heart of NASCAR country racing dirt bikes and four-wheelers and loving country music. "Like everyone else, I've always sung in the shower and the car," he says. After he graduated from high school, Covington bought his first guitar and taught himself how to play (he also plays bass and drums).

 He was inspired to do so after hearing an album by the Jeff Healey Band, who he'd seen in the movie Roadhouse. "I remember playing that album and picturing myself on stage with a pair of sunglasses on, playing guitar and singing, and thinking, that would be cool," Covington says.

 Soon he was singing country and Southern rock every weekend throughout the Carolinas. By day, he worked in the family auto body shop. "All I figured was: my dad owns a body shop and that was where I was going to work, and then I'd own it," he explains.

But Covington wanted something more. "I was watching TV one night and saw this Army commercial that said, 'If someone were to write a book on your life, would anyone want to read it?' That made a lot of sense and really inspired me."

 He was thinking of moving to Nashville to make his bid to get heard by the music business when the wife of his twin brother Rocky, who is also a musician, suggested that they both try out for American Idol. At the show's auditions in nearby Greensboro, Bucky made it through the initial three rounds and was chosen to go on to Los Angeles and compete further for a slot on the show.

"There's a thin line between confidence and cockiness," says Covington, "but I really had a feeling that I would make the show. Not win the show, but make the show � the top 24.

"I had a talk with my dad when I went to try out for American Idol. I wanted to take some time off from work and we're not big on that. So I told him: 'I can't wake up when I'm 40-some years old wondering "what if?" You've heard me. What do you think my shot is?' He said, 'well, you've got as good a shot as anyone.' Okay, then I gotta go."

Just the trip to the West Coast was like watching his dreams begin to unfold. "It was my first time on a commercial airliner," recalls Covington. "I had always wanted to get out and see the world, and Los Angeles was one of the places I wanted to go. But I didn't want to go as a body shop mechanic; I wanted to go as a singer. And who would have thought that my first time going, that I would go as a singer."

Competing on the show in front of millions of viewers was "a really big learning experience," Covington explains. "And I was thrilled to reach number eight. I thought that it was one of the best moves that I could have made."

The very next day, calls from people in the music business started pouring in. But it was the first call that he received from Ron Harris, of O-Seven Artist Management who manage Sawyer Brown, that really made things click for Covington.  Ron put Bucky in touch with Mark Miller, and a conversation with Mark drove things home. "Instead of telling me all they were going to do for me, he asked me what kind of music I wanted to make and he never brought up money. He let me talk rather than selling himself. Every time I talked to him and Ron, I could tell they were serious and legitimate and that they meant what they said.

"And the kind of things I was saying were: 'I don't care about becoming a millionaire in the next five years. I'm not looking for that. I want a 30-year career. I don't care how fast I get there. I just want longevity,'" says Covington.

  As he spoke with Harris and Miller, everything they discussed made sense to Covington. After all, Sawyer Brown launched their career by winning Star Search. "People were telling me: man, if you get a management company or a lawyer, get someone who has dealt with an American Idol person before. I'm like, 'hey, I can do one better,'" Covington observes with a chuckle. "When it comes down to it, Mark Miller and Sawyer Brown have taken every step that I have to take now. Who better to learn from than someone who's done it?"

Last summer, Covington crossed the nation on the 60-date American Idols Live tour performing for sold-out arena crowds. "For the first five or six shows, I was very, very nervous. I sang for the cameras on the show. But singing in front of 15,000 people? Phew! The first time I came off the stage, I was so nervous I was shaking. But I also thought, 'man, that was awesome.'"

After completing the tour, Covington signed with O-Seven Artist Management and started working with Miller on making his first album. But then, yet again, fortune smiled on the aspiring singer when he was invited at the last minute to join the GAC Country Music Christmas Tour. In another stroke of TV talent show synchronicity, it was to replace Buddy Jewell, who had won the first season of Nashville Star and had injured his wrist just prior to the tour and had to bow out.

It's obvious that Covington's considerable talent as a singer combined with his winning personality and presence are prime factors in his rapid rise. But he also believes that both luck and some spiritual grace had an influence as well. "It's the karma thing," he notes. "I've always believed in treating people well � anybody and everybody � and I try to live by the Golden Rule. And I think a lot of it came back to me."

Add some pluck to the formula, and it's no surprise that Covington is on his way to winning the big race of having a lifetime singing career. And where does his determination to succeed come from? "First, I was tired of what I was doing for a living. Not that it's a bad thing. But I'd done it for more than 10 years, since I was a junior in high school. And then there was just wanting a better life for myself, and my wife [Crystal] and family [at this point, their dog Slim]. And finally, there's just the thrill of singing for people."

And Covington will be enjoying that again right up to the holidays on the GAC Country Music Christmas tour. "It's the best feeling in the world to have all those people dig what you do," Covington enthuses. "It's instant gratification."

Then he'll come home to his new house just outside Nashville to enjoy the holidays at the end of an entire year that has been like Christmas � rich with the gifts that Covington has long wished for. And what has he learned to share with others who have dreams they hope can come true? "If you want to do it," Covington concludes, "then get out there and do it."