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Hough High drummer wins state competition
Tre' McKinney wins North Carolina Jazz Project scholarship
Published Wednesday, April 24, 2013
by Michaela L. Duckett

Tre’ McKinney, a senior at Hough High School, recently earned top honors and a $2,000 music scholarship in a statewide competition

Hough High senior Tre' McKinney earned top honors and a $2,000 scholarship at the All-State Jazz Band weekend in Durham.

sponsored by the North Carolina Jazz Project.

McKinney competed with one other finalist, guitarist Eli Wittmann of Holly Springs, N.C., in a concert on April 12 as part of the All-State Jazz Band weekend at North Carolina Central University.

McKinney played two jazz compositions, “Skydive” by Freddie Hubbard and “Swinging at the Haven” by Ellis Marsalis during his award-winning performance. Although McKinney wowed judges with his musicianship and repertory, he admits to being nervous performing with four jazz educators he’d never played or practiced with.

“It gives you an idea of what it’s like in the real world,” he said. “In the music industry, you don’t always have rehearsal. You just meet up, know what you are going to play and pretty much read the music off the charts and play.”

Gospel to punk rock

McKinney has always had a love for music. He was first introduced to music through his mother, who sung in the gospel choir and worship team at church.

Over the years, he has grown adept at playing multiple genres from gospel to metal. His favorite genres are funk and the punk rock music of the 1990s.

“It’s just something about the ‘90s,” he said. “To me, it was just a good time. There were no worries and punk rock ruled the world. People were wearing mohawks, and it was just awesome.”

McKinney’s favorite band is Blink 182. Other musicians who have influenced his style include Avril Lavigne, Thomas Pridgen, Big Wave Dave and the Ripples, and John Coltrane. He said each has left a profound mark on music history. When asked what mark he hopes to make, McKinney said he just wants to play the music he loves.

“I’m not really trying to leave a legacy,” he said. “I just want to be an artist that is original. I want to be myself. I would love to end up playing sold out shows for thousands of people. It would be awesome, but I’m not really trying to force anything to leave a mark.”

Drumbeats and fast cars

McKinney has been playing in school bands since middle school. As a Hough freshman, he and three other students formed a band called BackSeat Audio. They played original music and booked a few paying gigs before disbanding two years later when two bandmates went off to college.

McKinney is now a member of another band, Youth Day.

In the fall, McKinney plans to attend UNC Greensboro to major in performance music with a focus on jazz.

McKinney counts both of his parents among his biggest fans. They bought him a CB drumset, which he still plays, for Christmas when he was 12 years old.

“They’re pretty terrible,” he said. “I’m trying to get a new set before I go to college.”

While McKinney may have inherited his love of music from his mother, he shares his other hobby – cars – with his dad and grandfather. He’s been fascinated since he was 7 years old. His dream car is an Aston Martin V12 Vantage.

He career goal is to be a professional drummer that restores and sells cars on the side.

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