Antioch’s Toree McGee has come a long way since entertaining audiences as a child at the Red Caboose after she released her debut Single “Amen” on Tuesday March 31.
The song has been gaining popularity locally on KRTY San Jose, 95.3 FM, for several weeks and was one of the top songs for a number of nights. In fact, the night the single was released, McGee was listed as the number 17-new country artist on iTunes.
McGee, who describes her music as a blend of “Woodstock rock ‘n’ roll, and sparkly country” recoded her EP in Nashville and it’s expected to be released later this spring.
The song Amen made it onto the radio by a case of perfect timing through a relationship with her manager producer Gary Tackett, a guitarist and tour manager for Billy Currington. KRTY listened to her album and suggested a few changes to the song. After internal discussions, changes were made to Amen. During the second listen, McGee says KRTY loved it.
“They called us up and said we have a Clay Walker show coming up and asked if we could be the opening act,” explained McGee. “We asked if they could play the single on the radio to promote the show. Sure enough, they played it and since then people have been calling in and requesting the song,”
The song showed up in the KRTY Hot 9@9 for 5 weeks.
Although McGee wrote songs for her upcoming album she did not write Amen. The song was discovered while searching for songs to record and it had not been picked up by another artist.
“I heard it, I was like this one. It’s a winner,” said McGee. “I could hear myself singing it and it sounds like something I would write because it’s fun. My producer was unsure of the sound because it didn’t seem exciting but I told him that’s because I am not singing it yet. As it turned out, it was one of the strongest songs on the EP.”
Amen was written by Vickie McGee (no relation) who she calls “monster song writer” who has written a bunch of stuff for Jason Aldean, Toby Keith, Alan Jackson, Gretchen Wilson, Big & Rich, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill and others.
The night Amen was made available on iTunes, McGee said her phone blew up with support as she was receiving numerous phone calls, text messages, Instagram posts and Facebook Messages.
“It was very cool. They told me it would come out at 9:00 pm but it went live at 8:00 pm,” explained McGee. “I had been gearing everyone up for 9:00 pm and got a text that it’s live at 8:00 pm. We went online and download it and lots of text messages came in. It’s great to know so many people are following it and supportive and telling people about it and letting me know they love it.”
McGees musical journey began before she could even talk. She explained how when she was little, her parents told her before she could talk, she could sing.
“I started with row-row-your boat and although I did not sing the words, I was told I could sing in tune. I didn’t talk in full sentences, but I could sing,” explained McGee.” My dad was a singer in a garage band and his parents were a touring gospel quartet. It runs in the family.”
McGee admits she always wanted to be a singer with influences from her all-time favorite in Janis Joplin stating she loves the gravely tone that you don’t always hear or many can perfect—McGee says she like to think she can let it rip like Joplin. LeAnn Rimes was another big influence because she was a young singer on the radio when McGee figured out what she wanted to do for a living.
Other in influences include: Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, Creedence Clearwater, Jimmy Hendrix to Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses and AC-DC.
“Listening to things influences how you sing and perform. You watch and hear everything you can and study. You do what works for you and touches you,” explained McGee.
McGee began taking lessons at age 7 when her parents enrolled her with Nuhad Levasseur—who also provided vocal lessons for Brianna Oakley who competed on American Idol and Ashley Morgan who was on this seasons The Voice.
“It’s been a good few years for East Contra Costa County with local musicians,” said McGee. “Nuhad Levasseur is an amazing instructor.”
McGee highlighted how she did karaoke at the Red Caboose and how singing is like a bug, once you catch it; you want to do it forever. She took lessons for 10-years and performed various other shows and stage performances.
When she got into high school and everyone was picking careers, she knew she wanted to sing and perform.
“Everyone was picking realistic careers but I could not see myself doing anything else. I never grew up from my dream and I wanted to sing,” explained McGee. “People told me it’s really hard to do. I actively did not take SAT or apply for college, I wanted to play in bands and perform. It’s been a long road playing with bands and doing cover music.”
McGee says it’s been a world wind going to Nashville and recording but its been great because it’s all I have ever wanted to do. Although its been hectic, she admits there are a lot of good lessons she has learned.
“For starters, anything within the entertainment industry, you have to have thick skin. That is number one,” says McGee. “Some people don’t care while some people don’t get it. Some people may have a jealous streak while some people have never felt a drive to do something they never really wanted to do. Other people who find a passion and go after it, they back each other up. It’s just different and meeting people in all walks of life—especially with social media; you have to take a lot of it with a grain of salt. People support you and some do not. It’s a lesson you have to learn right off the bat. Not everyone is going to like you and that is okay.”
As hard as it has been, McGee is very happy to have a large core group of supporters who have helped her along the way and attended her local shows.
“It’s hard to go out and perform all the time. My family and friends have been huge. My family and immediate group have been behind me before I started performing with live bands. It’s great to make friends that come to shows and see fans at shows, it keeps the driving force going,” explained McGee. ”If you don’t have the support and feel like no one cares, you think is this a right path, but you get an extra shot in the arm when you mean something to people and they enjoy it and they go out of their way to support you.”
McGee says with Amen now available for download, she is in promotion mode for her music. She is lining up shows and looking to getting her name and music out to a larger audience. She also plans on working on new songs and writing more music.
You can download the song Amen on iTunes by clicking here https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/amen-single/id975945695
To see Toree McGee live, she is playing McGahs Pub & Pianos in Danville on Thursday April 9 from 8:00pm to 11:00 pm located at 148 E Prospect Ave Danville, CA 94526.
In late April McGee will be playing in Livermore while later this spring she anticipates playing in Brentwood.
Follow Toree McGee on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/toreemusic?fref=ts
To find out more information about Toree McGee, visit her website http://toreemcgee.com/
Note: Interview conducted Tuesday, March 31, 2015.