In the heart of the Northern Virginia countryside, a young Kevin MaC strummed rockabilly guitar licks and learned to shoot 12-gauge shotguns under the guidance of his beloved grandmother. Today, at the age of 37, this country music singer-songwriter is taking a leap of faith not only in his music career but also as an entrepreneur. With roots deeply embedded in the countryside, he is now venturing into the world of spirits with the launch of his own whiskey brand. The whiskey, named after his cherished grandmother, Elsie Marshall, is set to make its debut later this fall.
Kevin MaC's journey to stardom has been a remarkable one. He began his musical journey at a tender age, singing in the Hanover Baptist Church children's choir when he was just four years old. His early performances included portraying Elvis in elementary school talent shows, complete with mom-painted sideburns on his cheeks. Although he was initially put into piano lessons, his true passion was rockabilly and Southern gospel, rather than classical scales. He longed for the freedom to play like Jerry Lee Lewis.
At the age of 14, he received an acoustic guitar for Christmas, and this marked the beginning of his venture into playing chords and riffs. He started writing lyrics and even managed to persuade his high school principal to allow country music concerts at pep rallies. After two years at community college, Kevin MaC made his way to Virginia Beach in 2007 to attend Old Dominion University. There, he played at open mics, low-paying gigs, and cramped barroom stages, quickly building a reputation as an exceptional entertainer in small-scale venues.
In 2008, he made a significant breakthrough by winning the Virginia Beach Colgate Country Showdown and later finishing first in Kenny Chesney's "Big Star" competition. His prize was the opportunity to open for Kenny Chesney at a concert in Virginia Beach. Chesney was impressed by MaC's set and invited him to perform at another show in upstate New York, which ultimately led to bigger venues calling him.
Kevin MaC's journey was marked by a significant rise in his income and recognition. He transformed from making $75 per gig to earning $400 to $500 per night, living the dream of a recent college graduate. With rent at just $300, he had the freedom to enjoy his days by waking up at 10 a.m., going to the gym, surfing in the afternoons, and indulging in steak and seafood on the Boardwalk.
His exceptional talent as a performer did not go unnoticed. Brandon "Shaggy" Stokes, a longtime radio host and DJ for Z104, attested to his superstar potential. Stokes introduced Kevin MaC to some of the area's biggest musical names, including Pharrell Williams, Pusha-T, and Missy Elliott. In the world of hip-hop, MaC became known as "Country Kev."
After years of performing and honing his craft in Virginia Beach, MaC felt the need to take his career to the next level. In January 2015, he made the decision to move to Nashville to pursue his dreams, despite being engaged at the time. The move marked the beginning of a long-distance relationship with his fiancée for the first two years of their marriage. In 2017, Kevin MaC signed a music and songwriting deal with Grammy-winning producer Keith Stegall, who has worked with legendary artists like George Jones, Alan Jackson, and the Zac Brown Band. His wife finally joined him in Nashville to support his journey.
Throughout his career, Kevin MaC had the privilege of opening for renowned acts like LeAnn Rimes, Martina McBride, and Kip Moore. However, the pandemic brought a halt to live performances and left MaC searching for ways to supplement his income. During a frustrating run through the locked-down city, he had an epiphany when his fan-favorite song, "Granny Drinks Whiskey," played in his earbuds. This moment led to the birth of a unique venture.
MaC began selling empty whiskey bottles with labels designed by a friend that alluded to the song's lyrics. Fans loved the concept, and this inspired him to explore the idea further. He partnered with Tennessee-based distillery experts who embraced the concept, and with the help of Nick Nowak, he embarked on the journey to create Tik Pik.
Nick Nowak, a 42-year-old from Philadelphia, had always aspired to be a songwriter. In 2021, his career in designing and marketing outdoor products brought him to Nashville, where he met Kevin MaC during a songwriting session. They immediately connected over their mutual respect for their respective careers. It was during this meeting that MaC shared the concept of Tik Pik, a guitar pick that adheres to a guitar without adhesive or chemicals.
Nowak took charge of manufacturing and marketing the innovative guitar pick, and together with MaC, they are set to appear on the popular TV show "Shark Tank" to pitch their product. Tik Pik, also known as "the pick that sticks," uses nano suction cups to securely store picks when a guitar player transitions from strumming to fingerpicking. This innovation promises to be a game-changer in the world of guitar accessories, and they are hoping that "Shark Tank" will help catapult Tik Pik into a household brand.