Parker McCollum and Raising Cane's: Founder Todd Graves Says Country Superstar's Work Ethic 'Inspires' Him (Exclusive)

Parker McCollum has been one of Raising Cane's most passionate 'Caniac' ambassadors.

Country music superstar Parker McCollum has long sung the praises of chicken food chain Raising Cane's, which is based out of his home state of Texas. This past week, McCollum stopped by the company's headquarters in Plano — alongside Raising Cane's founder Todd Graves — after hosting a benefit concert for ACM Lifting Lives, which raised $700,000 for the Academy of Country Music non-profit organization.

On Wednesday night, McCollum took the stage with fellow country stars Ashley Cooke, Kameron Marlowe, Jordan Davis and Old Dominion to perform at Topgolf in The Colony, Texas. Afterward, McCollum and Graves served up some Raising Cane's meals to concertgoers well into the night. The following day, ahead of the ACM Awards show, the pair stopped by Raising Cane's HQ for a press conference and, during the event, they each opened up about working together.

At one point during the press conference, McCollum spoke about working with Graves, noting that he's a businessman of strong character and has a keen sense of integrity. When asked what it means to him that Graves would see the same in McCollum, the singer replied, "Man, it makes me feel like I'm doing something right."

Country Music Artist And 59th ACM Awards Nominee Parker McCollum Visits Raising Cane's Dallas-Area Support Center With Owner Todd Graves

PLANO, TEXAS – MAY 16: Country Music Artist and 59th ACM Awards nominee Parker McCollum (R) visits Raising Cane's Dallas-Area Support Center with owner Todd Graves (L) on May 16, 2024 in Plano, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for Raising Cane's)

- Rick Kern)

"I'm my own worst critic. I'm very, very hard on myself in this business, to the point where... it's really a curse a lot of the time, how much I overthink things... the way I was raised was good manners and very respectful, so I'm really hard on myself when maybe I swing and miss in this business," McCollum continued. "So, when someone like Raising Cane's and Todd Graves wants to back you or show that they support you, that makes me feel like I swung the bat and hit a home run. I don't take it lightly."

Speaking exclusively to Pop Culture, Graves weighed in on why he wanted to work with McCollum— who he calls a "really good guy" — explaining that first and foremost, the ACM winner is "literally a 'Caniac'" — the name for the chain's most dedicated customers — who was already a big fan of Raising Cane's food and service before he met the company's founder.

Graves went on to share that he met the "Burn It Down" singer through a mutual friend, McCollum's fellow Texas singer-songwriter Koe Wetzel, which led to bus hangouts and a few beers while "talking about each other's families, Graves said, "What was it like growing up? What is music doing for him? What's he got coming next?"

While Graves wanted to get to the heart of McCollum's character, he says the singer's "questions were aimed at the business side" of Graves' life: Raising Cane's. "How do you keep your integrity and quality? These things are related, whether it's music or cooking chicken fingers or whatnot," Graves shared, reflecting on his earliest conversations with McCollum.

Graves noted that this is "usually how it works out with anybody" who he's gone into business with, such as Post Malone and Snoop Dogg. "All of them," he says, were "friends before" they were business partners.

"For me... Cane's is a personal expression of myself. So, if I see somebody in an ad that represents Cane's, I want to say I did a good job of having this person represent my 55,000 crew members, right? From all genres, all walks of life."

Eventually, McCollum came on board as an official Raising Cane's brand ambassador, giving Graves more of a front-row seat to the singer's incredible work ethic. "Key example last night they did, you know, they helped to raise $700,000 right? And the kid, he's tired and he's working his ass off," Graves told us, just hours ahead of the ACM Awards. "He's got a huge day today. I could see it in his eyes last night, but he's gonna show up to do the right thing."

"That's people I want to be around," Graves continued, then concluding, "He inspires me too. I was saying earlier, being around people — don't matter what age or whatever it is — when they're working hard, [that] makes me want to work hard and do good things... surround yourself by good people."