One of Justin McCormick’s first memories as a singer and performer took place in his grandfather’s basement when it was just the two of them, and he was 5 years old.
The steel-guitar wielding patriarch of Justin’s family is and was a member of the bluegrass band Flipside, which mostly plays in South Bend area American Legion posts. Justin’s grandfather would play, while he danced and sang.
Even at such a young age, Justin’s grandfather saw something in Justin that no one else had seen yet — not even his parents.
His grandfather knew that Justin had the stage presence to be special — a quality that’s now apparent to major players within the country music world
Now, as a 17-year-old student at Saint Joseph High School, people in Nashville have taken notice of his talent, and he is forging a much different path than his peers.
On Nov. 8, 2018, he met with Bernard Porter, the CEO of PCG Universal, in Nashville. As a lifelong country music fan, Bernard was a little nervous during their meeting.
“This is what I wanted to do my whole life,” he says. “Bernard’s managed artists like Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Jason Aldean — all these huge acts. Sitting in his office, it’s pretty intimidating.”
Bernard ended up offering Justin a contract as an emerging artist, which means that PCG will provide McCormick with the developmental opportunities to become a future country star.
“We bring people into the program based on our analysis of them, but that isn’t a guaranteeing factor for success,” Bernard told Saint Joseph High School. “They are responsible for putting in the work and making sure we can reach the next level.”
Now, Bernard and his father drive down Nashville once a month and stay for several days, while he writes songs, goes through media training and spends time in the studio while working on his upcoming EP.
While in Nashville, he will play shows in venues like the renowned Opry Mills Mall and others. Then, this summer, Justin will go on the road an open up for major country music acts such as Dylan Scott on June 8 in Marion, Kansas, and the Josh Abbott Band on July 13 in Cuba, Missouri.
“This summer I’m going to have some of the biggest shows of my life because I’m going on my first actual tour,” he says. “I’m opening for Dylan Scott, who’s nominated for Best New Country Artist of the year and has two number-one songs.”
While Justin’s gift as a performer first appeared in his grandfather’s basement at 5, becoming a country music artist wasn’t his dream until the age of 9.
First, he wowed even his parents with his Elvis like moves and performance at a St. Joe County Fair talent show.
Soon after, Justin began to reach out to local organizations to offer them free concerts, especially nursing homes. This gave him valuable performing experience at a young age and showed his commitment to the industry.
“I’ve always been a business-minded person,” Justin says. “Everyone’s told me that I’m mature for my age. I’ve always thought I’ve been a big driving force in the business side of my career.”
As he got older, he sang in front of larger audiences such as during a South Bend Silver Hawks game and during halftime of a University of Illinois-Chicago basketball game.
He also got his songs Michiana’s premiere County Music Radio Station, B100. Two years ago, he was also one of the winners of Michiana Idol and was given a front-of-the-line pass to an American Idol Audition in Chicago.
Today, even given his contract as an emerging artist, Justin’s head hasn’t gotten too big, and he still uses music to give back to the South Bend community.
“About once a month, I go to about two or three different area nursing homes and go perform for them,” Justin says. “I think they deserve someone to come in and cheer them up. They’re all really cool. They like to get up and dance.”
He also knows that for all the success he’s achieved at such a young age, he couldn’t have done without his family — in particular, his grandfather and parents. They are the ones who have driven him all around the Michiana area, the state of Indiana and now to Nashville once a month. But like Justin, they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“They love it,” he says. “They’re really supportive of what I do.”