By David Althouse
Devin Derrick is a first-rate artistic natural, excelling in both the
country music and movie industries – and loving every minute of it!
Meet the latest of Oklahoma’s consummate entertainers whose dual
careers testify to our state’s knack for producing artistic excellence.
Amid this high-tech age of folks zoning out for long periods in front of the television or computer, of people perpetually clutching and tapping their cell phones or iPads in a sort of hypnotic trance, it’s comforting to know that we live in the state of Oklahoma, where some still spend the better part of their time writing and singing good country music, as well as learning lines for movie roles.
Devin Derrick, an Oklahoma native who grew up in Edmond, is a rapidly rising star in the country music world because he takes real life and turns it into the poetry that is his brand of country music – strong lyrics and storytelling coupled with a good measure of creative guitar licks, fiddle strokes, harmonica hummin’ and ivory tappin.’
Derrick was immersed into the world of country music from a very young age, learning the business from two generations of family. His parents owned the Derrick Club in Edmond where he, at the age of 3 months in a crib beside the stage, began listening to bands play six nights a week. At age 5, he took to the stage at the club, and the rest is history.
“I moved to Nashville in the early 1990s and lived there until about 2000,” Derrick said. “From there, I moved to Las Vegas and performed out there for several years. I was on tour and swinging back through Nashville, with my tour bus parked on Music Row, when a guy knocks on the bus door and says, ‘I see an Oklahoma tag on you bus, and I’m also from Oklahoma.’”
The stranger said he worked for Johnny Cash.
“I thought, ‘Yeah, right!’” Derrick said.
The stranger asked Derrick if he had a demo tape. Derrick replied that he did, giving him the demo tape. The tape ended up in the hands of Johnny Cash who, upon hearing it, handed it to his son, John Carter, and said, “Follow this guy.”
“Later on, John Carter asked me to come to Nashville, and I went,” Derrick said. “A couple of years went by with Carter and I going through song selections and getting to know each other. This evolved into a CD project.”
Derrick’s debut album, “Honkytonk Mood,” was produced in 2007 by John Carter.
Later, Carter asked Derrick to record one of his father’s songs, “Lady,” on his next album.
“How that came about is that we were in the studio and Carter said that his father wrote ‘Lady’ for his mom, to be played for her at his funeral as a surprise,” Derrick said. “Carter said, ‘Since my mother died before he did, would you be interested in recording this?’”
“It was my honor to say yes,” Derrick said. “I told John I would try to do it justice. For him to ask me to sing a Johnny Cash song was one thing, but to be able to record ‘Lady,’ understanding the premise of why it was written for his wife, June, was especially meaningful.”
“Lady” is featured on Derrick’s recently released album, “I Hate Lovin’ It.” The song has never been recorded by anyone other than Johnny Cash.
Derrick assembled a top-notch group of musicians to play on his new CD. Johnnie Helms plays steel guitar with Johnnie Lee of “Urban Cowboy” fame. World-renowned Byron Berline plays fiddle and mandolin. Steve Short, who performed with Reba McEntire for over 15 years, performs the incredible drumming. The rest of the superb musical cast includes first-class bass player Richard Sharp, impeccable guitarist Terry Scarberry, virtuoso harmonica player David Short, the undeniably great dobro player Billy Perry, the immensely talented piano and organ players Ryan Jones and Danny Borisky, and excellent background vocalists Stephanie Short and Steven Jeffry.
Another Edmond resident, Lindy Decker, whom Derrick met through the Academy of Contemporary Music located in Oklahoma City’s Bricktown, helped Derrick co-write ten of the twelve songs on his newest CD.
Derrick’s knack for letting his hard work garner him opportunities for good luck generated a second career for him in the movie business.
“I was living in Vegas and heard about a casting call for the movie ‘Cowgirls and Angels,’ so I flew back home to Oklahoma, drove to Stillwater, and got in the movie,” Derrick said. “I was on set and someone said, ‘You’re a singer, so give us a CD,’ which I did. They called me later and said ‘We want to use some of your music in the movie.’ I said ‘Great!’ So there I am in the movie, and they’re also using three of my songs in it.”
“Certifiably Crazy,” one of the songs from Derrick’s recently released album, is featured in the movie, along with two other Derrick songs – “I Don’t Remember” and “That’s My Girl.”
“Cowgirls and Angels” hit movie theatres in May.
Since working in “Cowgirls and Angels,” Derrick earned lead roles in two upcoming movies – “Gasoline Alley,” about NASCAR, and a western, “No Rest for the Wicked.”
Derrick also had roles in “Hay Days,” “The Unrest,” “Yellow” and “Innocent Revenge.”
Sitting down with Derrick to discuss his music and movies, one quickly discovers he is a creative dynamo happiest in the act of creating. He loves discussing the mechanics of recording music and making movies, and relishes his experiences both in the recording studio and on the movie set. One minute he recounts stories of filming tricks used by camera operators on movie sets, and the next minute explains the musical magic that occurs in a recording studio. The only thing that could make him happier than telling the many stories is getting back to work in either one of the artistic mediums as soon as possible.
“I’ve always wanted to be in the movies since I was a kid,” Derrick said. “I also knew that you don’t go from the movies into music. But, I knew that if I pursued my music, there would come a day that I would be ready to break into the movie business. It was a God-sent thing. A voice said, ‘It’s time – go for it!’ So that’s what I did, and the movie opportunities started popping up.”
Derrick’s passion for both his music and movies keeps him busy these days, as does his enthusiasm for promoting film production in Oklahoma.
That’s great news for fans of the actor-entertainer, as well as for Oklahoma, the state that has produced yet another in a long line of talented entertainment artists.
For more information about Devin Derrick, his music and movies, visit www.devinderrick.com.