In “Stealing Cinderella,” Chuck Wicks sings of asking his sweetheart’s father for her hand in marriage and ends up looking through childhood pictures of her “playing Cinderella,” riding a bike and dancing with her dad. “In her eyes I’m Prince Charming/But to him I’m just some fella/riding in and stealing Cinderella.”
The story for the track, the first single from 28-year-old Wicks’ forthcoming RCA Nashville debut “Starting Now,” is based on his current girlfriend, who used to work as the character Cinderella at Walt Disney World in Florida. “I’m not engaged or married yet, but the images used in the chorus are all true. But of course, now, her parents have some expectations,” Wicks laughs. “I’m stuck. Why couldn’t it have been the last single from the album?”
No matter what the future holds for Wicks and his real life Cinderella, he’s made a mark on the Billboard charts. The song has entered at No. 94 on the Hot 100 and has soared to No. 19 so far on Hot Country Songs, where it is likely to continue to climb.
Now based in Nashville, Wicks grew up on a potato farm in Delaware and made his way to Florida for college. After a couple years playing music at parties, he quit school just two classes shy of graduation and moved to the Tennessee capital to pursue music full-time.
“There’s a ton of competition in Nashville. You have to stay within [your] own expertise. I worked on what I was good at. I surrounded myself with people who were better than me, when it came to songwriting,” he tells Billboard.com. “I knew getting a label or getting popular wasn’t gonna happen overnight. It took a long time.”
Wicks had some help getting his deal. During his transition from a no-name in Nashville to signed artist five-and-a-half years later, that he wrote more than 100 songs a year, including having co-written several with established local songsmiths like Monty Powell (who, with Dann Huff, co-produced the album), George Teren, Rivers Rutherford and Neil Thrasher. Several of them helped them co-write “Starting Now.”
Ten of the 11 tracks on the album were written or co-written by Wicks. “Out of 10 songs, nine would be fine and one would be great. That’s how it was putting the record together,” he says. Other tracks on the rock-country crossover set include “Man of the House,” a song about a father gone away to war from his son’s perspective, and another touching track “If We Loved.” “Yeah, I guess I’m a pretty sentimental guy,” he confesses.
Wicks was able to further cut his teeth earlier this year, with the short-lived Fox reality television show “Nashville,” which survived for only two episodes. He admits that he was skeptical going in because of the perceived stigma that comes with being associated with reality TV. “I was scared people wouldn’t take me seriously. We already finished the album, so it wasn’t like I got my ‘start’ on the show… The exposure was the real draw,” he says.
Wicks will be earning more exposure on the road this winter, however. Fans can catch him on his own in Nashville, Florida and Indiana this month and starting in January, he will opening for Brad Paisley.