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North Carolina-raised country singer and songwriter Chase Rice grew up listening to Garth Brooks and other singers who reshuffled and updated country music into something closer in line with pop in the 1990s. During high school and college, however, he put much more of his time and energy into sports, playing linebacker on the University of North Carolina football team. An injury eventually sidelined his football career, and it was then that Rice finally picked up a guitar in earnest and began writing songs. After graduating from college, Rice took a job as part of the NASCAR Hendrick Motorsports pit crew, playing out in the bars of Charlotte in the evenings whenever he could, and flying to Nashville on the weekends to take part in songwriter nights. He first came into the public's eye in 2010, when he was a contestant on the TV show Survivor: Nicaragua; he eventually finishing second in the running. Rice released a six-song EP, Country as Me, in 2011, following it up with the full-length Dirt Road Communion a year later in 2012. They performed well on the charts, but it was a writing opportunity, "Cruise" by Florida Georgia Line, that really propelled his career forward; initially released in mid-2012, it spent over a year in heavy rotation, topping the country charts for many weeks and reaching number four on the overall chart. He signed to Columbia Nashville and released his major-label debut, Ignite the Night, in August of 2014; it debuted at number one on the country charts, and sent one single, "Ready Set Roll," into the country chart's Top Five. Another country Top 10, "Gonna Wanna Tonight," followed in 2014 and Rice spent the next year recording a new album. "Whisper," the first result from these sessions, appeared in early 2016. ~ Steve Leggett