ROCKINGHAM — Last weekend, Erik Hawks played in front of a small, hometown crowd at Hudson Brothers Deli. This weekend, he’ll be at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach.
Hawks, a Richmond County native now living in Fayetteville, is one of six singers nominated for Male Performer of the Year in the 8th annual Carolina Country Music Awards.
He said his reaction to being nominated was “total shock.”
“I feel so lucky to have someone recognize my music,” Hawks said Thursday afternoon. “Win or lose, it’s an honor to be nominated.”
The event is organized by the Carolina Country Music Association and recognizes artists from the Tar Heel and Palmetto states in a contest featuring 12 categories. The guest performer this year will be former Alabama drummer Mark Herndon.
Hawks, 35, is a 2006 graduate of Richmond Senior High School. He grew up outside Ellerbe until he was in the third grade before the family moved to Roberdel.
“I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember,” he said, adding that he started playing guitar when he was 18, becoming a serious musician “almost instantly.”
“I’ve always loved performing in front of people,” he said. “Just needed experience and opportunities.”
Hawks’ major musical influences range from country artists like Garth Brooks and Vince Gill to rock bands like the Eagles and Foo Fighters.
“I was fortunate to be raised by parents who let me listen to everything, so that definitely had an effect on me,” he said.
His first paid gig wouldn’t be until 2020, when he earned $200 plus tips playing the Copper Cricket in Sanford.
Over the years, Hawks estimates he’s written around 100 songs. Five of those have been recorded and he’s released two: “Notebooks,” which references Bear Branch Road; and “Tracing Your Tattoos.”
This past year, Hawks performed in three states and opened for several other artists, including Matt Stell, Elvie Shane, and Garner native and Season 10 “American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery.
He also “wrote a lot of songs” and “met a lot of great people.”
Hawks said his largest crowd so far has been 700-800 people.
When he’s not strumming his six-string, Hawks works as a forestry technician at Fort Bragg.
Hawks plans to release more music this year and increase the number of original tunes into his set list, and hopes to be a full-time musician.
“I’m super excited to see what 2023 has in store for me, and I’m thankful to have y’all along for the ride!”