Warrix Helps EKU, Ky. Music Hall of Fame Kick Off "Stars Over Appalachia" Program

photo of Warrix shaking hand of Rockcastle student

Singer/songwriter Chad Warrix, who gained fame in the country music duo Halfway to Hazard, urged Rockcastle County High School students to never give up on their dreams.

Speaking at a kickoff event May 10 for the Stars over Appalachia program, co-sponsored by Eastern Kentucky University and the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame, the Kentucky native said, “You’ve got to stay in the game if you’re ever even going to try to win.”

He was discussing his determination to keep his recording and songwriting career alive after the breakup of Halfway to Hazard, but he could have been talking about the seniors’ life after high school.

In fact, that was the purpose of Warrix’s visit. The Stars Over Appalachia program seeks to enlist entertainment celebrities in an effort to reduce the high school dropout rate in the university’s 22-county service region and inspire all students to strive for success. The program calls for celebrities from all entertainment genres – many, like Warrix, with ties to the region – to “adopt” schools and then work with administrators and teachers to reach students.

Also speaking at the kickoff ceremony were EKU President Doug Whitlock; Kentucky Music Hall of Fame Executive Director Robert Lawson; EKU Educational Extension Agent Paula Wilder; and Josh Bleidt, an EKU graduate who is now a manager/agent for several entertainment acts, including Warrix.

Warrix, who was born in Hazard but grew up in Jackson, credited his musical family and his band teacher at Breathitt County High School for his successful career in the music business.

“It all starts right now,” he said, “and you guys are on the brink of some really cool things.”

For Warrix, stardom didn’t come overnight.

“I worked hard at it,” he said, “and the harder you work at it, it starts coming naturally.”

He fulfilled a dream of his parents when he completed a bachelor’s degree in Belmont University’s music business program, where he networked with Brad Paisley and countless other notables to launch and sustain his career.

“A lot of you guys will help each other all through life,” he told the students.

Warrix, who frequently does charity work in Kentucky and elsewhere, said his participation in Stars Over Appalachia stems from his strong desire “to give back to the community, wherever you came from.”

In addition to talking with the students and signing autographs afterward, Warrix performed four songs.

As the first star to adopt a school in the new program, Warrix will serve as a “role model” for the Rockcastle students, said Paula Wilder, one of seven EKU educational extension agents in the university’s service area. “We want them to see that someone from their area has achieved massive success. He will serve as a motivator for them to stay in school and possibly go on to pursue higher educational attainment. If they can begin to see things outside their world, then their perspectives on life will change (and) they may begin to think differently about things and life in general.”

Several other school adoptions are “in the works,” according to Wilder.

Whitlock said the participation of Warrix and other stars sends “an incredibly important message.”

He went on to say that EKU is “all about making stars out of folks,” citing several graduates from Appalachian Kentucky and elsewhere who went on to earn national acclaim.

“That causes us to say, ‘You can get there from here.’ And I’m here to tell you that you can get there from Rockcastle County as well.”

The Kentucky Music Hall of Fame is located at Renfro Valley, approximately three miles from Rockcastle County High School.

Halfway to Hazard will reunite on July 27 when the duo and Keith Anderson perform at Renfro Valley.

For more information about “Stars Over Appalachia,” contact Wilder at paula.wilder@eku.edu or Robert Lawson with the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame at rlawson1@mikrotec.com.

Published on May 11, 2012