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PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. – The local music group responsible for regional hits like “Livin ‘the Salt Life” and “Man I Miss It” was named Duo of the Year at the seventh annual Josie Music Awards held at Country Tonite Theater in Pigeon. Forge, Tennessee.
Mark McKinney & Co., a band whose members Mark McKinney and Jonathan Locklear are from Robeson County, has been nominated for three 2021 Josie Music Awards which include Musician of the Year for Locklear Guitarist, Duo of the Year; and artist of the year (duo).
âWe were delighted to be nominated. We didn’t go there hoping to win, but it was amazing to win, âsaid Locklear.
âYou always think ‘I’m not good enough’ so we went over there really happy to be nominated,â McKinney said.
Held in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, the Josie Music Awards are an all-genre musical awards ceremony that includes a red carpet and numerous performances. Since its inaugural celebration six years ago, the Josie Music Awards have remained the largest independent artist awards ceremony in the world, according to the show’s website.
âThis year they had over 38,000 submissions, so it’s pretty amazing,â Locklear said. “That’s a lot of submissions, so we were so glad we were able to bring one home.”
Mark McKinney & Co. took the stage at the awards show providing the guitars for the performance of artist Dustin Chapman. A grassroots guitarist and drummer from another Michigan band also participated in the performance.
âThey kind of put together a band for his performance. We had no rehearsals. It was one of those things where you learn your role and play it as it is and then everything will work out, âLocklear said.
The band were backstage, armed with the successful live performance, when they heard their name called.
âWe were patting each other on the back and then I heard McKinney and Company. I didn’t even hear my first name. I looked at Jon and said ‘Jon, I think we just won something.’ We burned out and of course we won the Duo of the Year, âsaid McKinney. âIt was just a crazy time. Just crazy. “
The group was formed in November 2016 by brothers Jonathan Locklear and Andrew Locklear, and Mark McKinney. Andrew Locklear, who died on May 9, 2020, wrote the group’s first single, “Grandpa’s Song”, in 2018.
âAt the end of the speech, we dedicated the award to Andrew,â Locklear said.
Before the group formed six years ago, the two played in several groups and tried out different styles and genres over the years.
âI guess we’ve really found our niche and found what makes us really happy and what we’re good at I think,â McKinney said.
This niche made the group more acoustic, performing in places where people could share the conversation while listening or stand up and dance and sing, McKinney said.
“It’s a dream come true to be able to do what you love first, do something you have dreamed of doing for years, and then come from a small town where the chances of that happening are just incredible. “McKinney said. .
Mark McKinney & Co. is used to winning awards. McKinney is the recipient of the Josie Music Awards’ Modern Country Male Vocalist of the Year in 2020.
âThere are so many great singers, so for my first year of being nominated, winning it the first year is amazing, then turning around and winning anotherâ¦â McKinney said.
The duo have won five Carolina Music Awards, including Guitarist of the Year, Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year and Vocal Group of the Year, twice.
Over the past five years, the duo have performed nearly 600 shows, averaging around 12 to 15 shows per month, mostly in the Myrtle Beach, SC area. The group performed at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in 2017 and most recently at the Givens Performing Arts Center for the Front Row virtual concert series in February.
The group released âLivin ‘The Salt Life,â which was # 1 out of 94.9 in North Myrtle Beach for six straight weeks; “Either way, she wants it”; and “Dude, I miss that.” Their music is available on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, and many other music apps.
Fans can look forward to more work in the duo’s future, including a music video for the song “Man I Miss It” and the release of more original music.