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ZAC HACKER a finalist on this season’s “Nashville Star,” who is from Alabama
Courtesy photos
ZAC HACKER a finalist on this season’s “Nashville Star,” who is from Alabama

Country music meets Princess
Singer/songwriters Zac Hacker and Jaime Fox use reality TV, MySpace to gain more exposure for careers

By Danielle Komis
dkomis@decaturdaily.com· 340-2447

Soon after Florence’s Zac Hacker sang his original song, “If It Wasn’t for the Whiskey,” on USA Network’s “Nashville Star,” he was bombarded with fan messages.

He had struck a chord in thousands of people watching season five of the country music equivalent of “American Idol” — all with a two-minute song.

The singer/songwriter hopes to keep touching fans after he tours this summer with other finalists of this season’s “Nashville Star,” including his sister and “Star” winner, Angela Hacker.

“It was an inspiration,” he said of the positive response. “To know that you can write a song and people really think about it. It’s all about making people think.”

Fans can hear Hacker’s brand of country infused with R&B and Southern rock April 13 at the Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts in Decatur. The concert will be one of Hacker’s last local ones before he starts touring with the rest of the “Star” finalists.

But it won’t be his first in Decatur — he played several times last year at Simp McGhee’s.

Fellow country music singer/
songwriter Jaime Fox, who has performed around town at Maria Bonita Grille and Cantina and at Simp McGhee’s, will open for Hacker.

Hacker, 23, began touring the Southeast’s fraternity circuit with “The Alabama Outlaws,” at age 16, and hails from a musical family in LaGrange, Ala.

Hacker and his siblings endured an alcoholic and abusive father, so music became his solace from an early age.

“Music was a way for me to get away from it,” he said. “I think because of that, music has always been there for me and now I’m there for it.”

Jaime Fox a former Miss Maryland, who now lives in Nashville to pursue her singing/songwriting
Jaime Fox a former Miss Maryland, who now lives in Nashville to pursue her singing/songwriting
Since his time on “Star,” Hacker has written and recorded songs and worked to secure a recording contract with his sister Angela. The two hope to embark on a duo act as “The Hackers,” which will set them apart from other artists, they said.

Before “Nashville Star,” Hacker played with respected Florence country musician Gary Nichols while writing and recording for Fame Music Publishing and wrote with well-known writers like Robert Byrne (“Two Dozen Roses,” “What I’d Say”), Russell Smith (“Third Rate Romance,” “Keep it Between the Lines,”) and Dave Gibson (“Ships that Don’t Come In,” “Queen of Memphis”).

The key to figuring out what you want to do is picking something and aligning yourself with someone who actually is successful with it, Hacker said.

“I’ve been writing with all these guys and they’re legends. I’m just glad I was listening when they were talking,” he said.

Fox, who will also be featured at the concert, said she is excited for Hacker to get the chance to be featured in a big local concert for his fans before he hits the road and goes on to a broader audience. Fox has been friends with Hacker for a year, and writes with him at Fame.

“Zac’s really lucky to have this ‘Nashville Star’ promotion,” she said. “He just got this free national exposure. You can really make a lot of things happen for yourself.”

Fox had the opportunity to try out for “Nashville Star,” too, but ignored Hacker’s pleas for her to try out, because she didn’t want to “wait in a cattle car line,” she told him. When Hacker made the cut, she had different thoughts.

“I thought, ‘Maybe I should have gotten off the couch,’ ” she said, laughing.

Fox’s debut album, “Crossing Over,” was released in July 2006 — about seven years after she moved to Nashville from Maryland not knowing a soul but her dog.

After past jobs waiting tables, working in a cabaret-style club and in a murder mystery show, she is finally able to focus on music full time. Now, the Maryland native and former Miss America contestant is working on her country/adult contemporary rock sound for a new album and hopes to get a record deal soon.

The Nashville-based songstress is still performing around the Southeast and relies heavily on MySpace for self-promotion. Now, when people meet her, many of them have already heard her music on her MySpace page.

“It kind of gives me instant credibility because they’ve already heard my music,” she said.

Christy Wiley, owner of Simp McGhee’s, can also vouch for Fox and Hacker. They played together a few times at Simp’s late last year.

“They’re wonderful together,” she said. “It (the Princess concert) is definitely a show they don’t want to miss.”

It’s a nice change to have country music back at the Princess after a nearly 20-year hiatus, said Cindy Harmon, box office manager and event planner at the Princess.

“We’re going to have a lot more people coming into Decatur for this,” she said. “So it’ll be great for Decatur.”

If you go

What: Concert with country music artists Zac Hacker of Florence, finalist from USA network’s “Nashville Star,” and Nashville’s Jaime Fox

Where: Princess Theatre for the Performing Arts, 112 Second Ave. N.E., Decatur

When: April 13, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $23 and $20, available at the Princess Theatre Box Office at 340-1778 or at www.princesstheatre.org.

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