Something strange happened in the swamps of south Georgia. Heath McNease grew up in the sticks. He is a nerd turned theatre major turned rapper turned folk singer turned redneck turned nerd all over again. His approach to music is influenced by so many different styles and textures that finding just one genre for him to neatly rest in is impossible. Growing up, his mom gave him The Carpenters, Simon and Garfunkle, and The Beatles. His brothers gave him gangster rap. Classic rock, blues, and folk would eventually collide with his love for hip hop and…yes…musical theatre.
Heath is a fearless lyricist. With his rapid fire, multi syllabic rhymes, unabashedly honest storytelling, and insanely erratic freestyles onstage…he leaves people feeling like they’ve just connected with a genuine guy. Not a pretender. Not a rock star. Just a guy who loves music. McNease brings a self depricating, ironic awareness to his music that is full of humor, humility, and humanity. His energetic live performances owe just as much to old Broadway musicals as they do to the gritty, sample based vibes of De La Soul, or the playful social commentary of Jerry Seinfeld.
His unusual palm slap style of playing acoustic guitar mixed with his quirky and melodic hooks makes even his most obscure pop culture references memorable…and singable. Having been trained in live improvisation during his theatre practicum, Heath always gives full attention to the immediate experience…making every show unique to that moment on that night. Just when you’re expecting another banger reminiscent of the days of Das FX and early Wu Tang Clan…he covers Leonard Cohen…or sings an original jazz piece. You never know what to expect from Heath…and that’s why he has toured with the likes of hip hop pioneers such as Pigeon John, Red Cloud, Playdough, and Mars Ill. He has quickly garnered a reputation as having one of the funniest and most emotionally connected live shows on the road today.
His recorded material is like a journey through a time warp. Gross, unequalized vinyl drum breaks from the 60′s, gritty blues guitar licks, chunky/poppy reggae strumming patterns, crazy brass sections, grimey digital synth loops, and fat bass lines collide with stark, acoustic ballads, and trippy electric throwbacks reminiscent of your favorite rockstars of yesteryear. Each song is as unpredicatable as the next…always keeping the listener on their toes.
“My faith plays the most integral role in who i am as a person, songwriter, artist, and performer. I was raised on old gospel hymns in a small baptist church in the middle of the country. my musical and spiritual outlook continues to grow and shape itself, but i will never stray from the tried and true passion behind hymns. no matter what i’m doing…rapping, singing, or doing spoken word pieces…my goal is to connect with people on the same level as those hymns connected with me when i was just a kid. for me, i’ve always felt that the real moments when God showed up was when i was open to the moment. that’s why i try to use the comedic and dramatic as a way of connecting with people…because we all open up to the moment in different ways.”
Heath puts in a tireless work schedule by touring over 250 days of the year. He plays any and every venue available. “The greatest part of doing what i do is seeing how open, responsive, and kind people are out on the road. i play a lot of churches. i lead a lot of worship services. i play for the believers, because i feel it is vitally important for them to have someone who is concerned not only with bringing a humble heart and a clear definition of the gospel to them…but someone who is concerned with bringing them art that is conceived and performed at the highest level possible. I also play a lot of colleges, bars, hip hop clubs, coffee shops, and festivals that have no affiliation with the church at all, and i love it. my job on this earth is to love and be loved. its not to push my beliefs on someone else…it is to love them the best way i know how. and the best way i know how to love someone is through my music. regardless of what belief system a person adheres to…we all need to learn about love, understanding, forgiveness, patience, and acceptance. the amount of love that i receive when i play outside of the church often surpasses what i feel when i’m inside the church. that’s not meant as an indictment on church culture…it is just my observation. i’ve never had to conceal my thoughts or beliefs with people outside of the church, and i feel that might be a fundamental mistake some artists have made. i find what i have to say is welcome with open ears by people from all different walks of life, because i bring my art and my life to them with the most honest and humble intentions…just to love them. that will always be welcome. love and understanding will never go out of style.”