Anthology Liner Notes

Randy Travis and Lib Hatcher lived at 1610 16th Avenue South, way at the upper end of Music Row. The big brick house wasn't in the heart of Nashville's show business district - the real action was more than six blocks away, where all the big record companies and publishers were headquartered. The couple rented out the downstairs to their building to a publicist and an independent record promoter, which paid for their upstairs apartment. Anytime the house needed work, Randy did it. You'd see him there all the time, doing lawn work and handyman duties.

It might not have been the best address in Nashville, but it had its advantages. For one thing, it was close enough to the corporations that Lib could badger producers, journalists, publishers, talent agents and anyone else who'd listen. Month after month she relentlessly made contacts, urging everyone to drive out to The Nashville Palace nightclub to hear Randy sing.

When you got there, Lib would take you into the kitchen to say hi to Randy. He'd be wearing his starched white apron, flipping burgers or grilling steaks. They'd call his name from the bandstand, he'd take off the apron and put on the jacket he kept hanging nearby. And then, in a voice of umber and amber, he would pour himself into his repertoire of country classics and original songs of yearning, regret and pain. And one after another, those of us who'd met this nice young man sitting on the porch of the Music Row house or frying potatoes at the club would understand what she'd been raving about.

Lib Hatcher had a religion and its name was country music. She had a purpose in life, and that was to make a star out of someone she thought was one of the greatest country vocalists she'd ever heard.

Unfortunately for Randy Travis, Nashville wasn't looking for country singers when he moved there in 1981. Flush with the success of the "Urban Cowboy" boom, the country industry was making records aimed at crossing over to the pop charts, or at the very least designed to the new suburban country fans, rather than hard-core honky-tonkers. Singers like Randy were called "too country" by country radio programmers.

And so, for four long years, Randy Travis rubbed his hands on his apron, went to the stage, and sang for The Nashville Palace crowds. He made fans of the tourists who came to Music City because they loved real country music. He made fans of the traditional country stars who frequented the Palace because it was the closest bar to the Opry House. After The Nashville Network went on cable TV in 1983, show host Ralph Emery invited Randy to be a guest on Nashville Now. Like the Opry, TNN was just a few hundred yards from the club, so Randy brought Ralph food he'd cooked just moments before.

TNN? The Nashville Palace? The sleek executives on Music Row never set foot in such places. The major record labels sneered at all that hillbilly activity out by the Opry House. Those places were unhip. Those places were not the taste makers of "countrypolitan" radio. Those places were for blue-collar country fans, or worse - tourists.

But that was Randy's audience. Those folks are why Randy Travis believed he could be somebody. He was a country fan himself, and when he was with "his people," he connected. Hundreds of hours of singing to them, first in North Carolina and now in Nashville, had taught him that lots of people still loved country music with a little dirt - or cooking oil - under its fingernails. It was the music he grew up with, something he knew so intimately that it was part of his very being.

He was born Randy Bruce Traywick in 1959, and everything from childhood on pointed him toward singing country music. His father Harold sang country songs and coached all six children to do the same. The three boys were all given guitar lessons and were expected to perform on command in the large music room built on the back of the Traywick house in little Marshville, North Carolina.

"The kids I grew up with, they listened to rock 'n' roll, but country music is all I've ever learned to sing and all I care to sing," Randy recalled. "I grew up listening to Daddy's old records of Hank and Lefty and Ernest Tubb, Gene Autry, Tex Ritter and Roy Rogers."

Randy played his first show at age nine. By the time he and older brother Ricky were 14 and 15, they were regulars in hometown honky-tonks. Randy dropped out of school to become a full-time musician not long afterward. The atmosphere of the rough, rural roadhouses he played soon rubbed off on him.

"I didn't like school. I couldn't stand it, to tell you the truth. I started runnin' away from home, drinkin' and getting into trouble. After about the seventh grade, I just almost wouldn't go to school at all. I went into the ninth grade, and I never did finish that."

He plunged into the "wild side of life," brawling, drinking, and committing a string of teen-age crimes. Randy was arrested for everything from public drunkenness to attempted larceny. At age 17 the juvenile delinquent was on a fast track to a prison sentence.

"It was drinkin' and drivin' and tryin' to outrun policemen and fightin.' At one point, I got caught for breaking and entering. I guess I would've straightened up sooner or later, but I probably would have gone to prison before I did. I may not have lived long enough to straighten out."

Country music quite literally saved the young hellion's life. In the early months of 1977 Randy learned of a talent contest being conducted in the Charlotte nightclub Country City USA. When he auditioned, club owner Lib Hatcher knew at once that she was in the presence of "something special," as she later put it.

He won the contest. She told him she believed in him. He confessed to her that he was facing jail time for car theft. She went to the judge and persuaded him to put Randy into her custody. Then she gave the singer a full-time job at the nightclub.

"Since about age 17 I've been real serious about wantin' to do this. If I hadn't met Lib, I wouldn't straightened out as quick, I don't think. I look back and, well, I'm actually embarrassed and I wonder how I could have done a lot of those things. With Mama and Daddy, I wish I could go back and re-do so many things. I'm sure what I did broke their hearts. I just didn't want to listen to them, didn't want to do what they said.

But for some reason, I would listen to Lib. I've learned a lot from her about business and life in general, too. She's such a good person. And when a person's like that, it kinda rubs off on you."

Randy sang six nights a week at Country City USA, learning what drinkers and dancers liked to hear. When Nashville stars played the venue, Lib made contacts and learned the ways of the music business from them. Her belief in her protÈgÈ's ability was unshakeable. When Randy was 18 she took him to country star Joe Stampley, who produced two Randy Traywick singles for the small Paula label of Shreveport, Louisiana. The sessions, financed by Lib, were Randy's first experience in a Nashville recording studio.

"Lib and I both learned as we went. I watched Coal Miner's Daughter, so we did a lot of the same things. We mailed our records out to radio stations, and then we got in the car and started going from one radio station to another, asking them to play the records. One of 'em ["She's My Woman"] got in Billboard for about four weeks, but after that we just ran outta money."

When the "Urban Cowboy" craze exploded in 1980, Lib installed a mechanical bull in Country City USA. It made so much money that it financed the 1981 move to Nashville. For several months, Randy sent weekdays trying to work up the interest on Music Row and Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays entertaining back in Charlotte. Then, late in 1982 Opry star Ray Pillow recommended Lib Hatcher for the job at The Nashville Palace. She immediately hired Randy, who initially worked as a dishwasher/singer before learning his short-order culinary skills.

Although confident about his singing ability, Randy admits to being more than a little awed about actually moving to country music's capitol: "My first impression of Nashville was, 'This is a big town. I don't know if I belong here or not.' It was kinda scary to me. I didn't know that much about the music business or that many people in Nashville either."

Now billed as "Randy Ray," the singer began to record demonstration tapes. Lib took these up and down Music Row. Every record label in the city turned Randy down flat. Some more than once.

The performer made productive use of his long wait. He developed his songwriting skills, eventually building a catalogue of solid country compositions. When he wasn't doing home renovations, he worked out with weights, eventually building the lean, muscular physique he has retained. In keeping with his sobriety, he also jogged up and down Music Row, from the house to the Country Music Hall of Fame and back again.

Lib wasn't so patient. Frustrated by Music Row's indifference, she talked Nashville Palace owner John Hobbs into financing a Randy Ray album in lieu of her bonus that would promote both the singer and the nightclub. Randy Ray-Live At The Nashville Palace appeared in 1983 on Music Valley Records. All of its songs were penned by Randy.

Slowly, achingly slowly, he began to make progress. Country Music Hall of Fame member Jimmy Dickens wrote liner notes for Randy's album, saying, "Sit back and listen to one of tomorrow's stars." In early 1984 the album led to the first of a string of appearances on TNN. A number of local radio and TV bookings followed. Traditional singers Darrell Clanton and Jeanne Pruett both recorded Randy's song "I Told You So."

Producer Kyle Lehning heard the live album and was intrigued enough to make a trip to The Nashville Palace to see the singer in person. He was stunned to hear that the robust resonance in Randy's voice was 'the real deal" and not some recording-technology trickery. Lib and Randy were in Vegas at the Talent Buyers Convention when they got word that Martha Sharp from Warner Bros. had heard the tape and was coming to the Palace. They got the next flight home.

Martha's background was in pop music as the writer of Bobby Vee's "Come Back When You Grow Up" and Sandy Posen's "Born A Woman." Although she was among the many who'd turned Randy Travis down previously, Martha eventually got the notion that a young, good-looking singer of hard-core country music could be a star. In 1981 Ricky Skaggs had broken through on Epic Records, and George Strait had done the same for MCA. In 1984 RCA signed honky-tonk stylist Keith Whitley. She wanted to find the same type of artist for Warners.

And so Martha Sharp also made the pilgrimage to the tourist nightspot out by the Opry House. Randy knew she was coming, but he held out no hope that her visit would result in anything other than one more rejection from Music Row.

"That's when Martha saw me first," he recalled. "But when she came out there I didn't think she was very impressed. She came and sat and listened to us, talked to me for a few minutes, and then left. I just thought, Well, so much for that one."

But the executives had liked the purity of Randy's by-gosh country conviction, the endearing humility of his manners, and his chiseled, square-jawed sex appeal. When Kyle Lehning heard she was interested, he called to say he'd like to be the record's producer. No one at Warners liked the name "Randy Ray," however, so Martha suggested "Randy Travis" as a moniker that was comfortably close to "Traywick." Eager for the major label's support, the singer reluctantly agreed to yet another name change.

On January 30th, 1985, Randy Travis had his first recording session for Warner Bros. Records. He reprised his own "Reasons I Cheat" from the live album and recorded a Don Schlitz/Paul Overstreet number called "On The Other Hand." The latter was selected for his debut single.

With hopes high, Randy began calling radio stations and courting their favor. At the 1985 Fan Fair festival in Nashville, country fans burst into spontaneous applause in the middle of his performance of "On The Other Hand." His reception by the 20,000 working-class country music lovers that attend the weeklong festival was a revelation to the Warner executives. It validated everything that Randy Travis believed.

"I think people have always been out there who wanted to hear real country, and the artists got away from recording it, all wanting to cut [pop] crossover music. I don't really care about doin' that. This is all I've ever learned to sing, all I've ever done and it's all I ever want to sing."

"On The Other Hand" entered the Billboard charts on August 31, 1985. It struggled for 12 long weeks reaching only #67 before dropping out of sight. Despite the public's enthusiasm, Randy was still "too country" for radio programmers.

Warners pressed onward, this time with a different tactic. The label took the unusual step of releasing Randy's single "1982" in late November, a time of year when nobody puts out new records. Faced with a dearth of new sounds, radio stations began playing the single, and the public responded explosively. This time Randy Travis couldn't be denied. By the time 1986 dawned, his new single was too hot to stop. It became the first Top 10 hit.

In March of that year Randy Travis fulfilled a lifelong dream by guesting on the Grand Ole Opry. He also showcased at the New Faces Show at an annual convention of radio programmers. With his dusky, rough-hewn singing style and gracious, "just plain folks" demeanor he wowed one of the most difficult, jaded listening audiences in creation.

Next, the record label took the unprecedented step of re-releasing "On The Other Hand" after Lib's constant begging - and the fact that they had nothing else recorded to release. The Warners executives had noticed that despite the song's mediocre showing on the charts, it had sold a surprising number of records. The label acted on a hunch that paid off when the reissued single became Randy Travis' first #1 smash. The potency of his back-to-the-basics style was further revealed when Randy's debut album appeared in June 1986. The collection, titled Storms Of Life began selling at a rate of 100,000 copies a week and escalated from there.

The wry toe-tapper "Diggin' Up Bones" was issued as the album's third single. It duplicated its predecessor's success by becoming another #1 smash. Storms Of Life also included a new version of Randy's own "Send My Body Home (On A Freight Train)" (aka "Send My Body"), which he'd first recorded on his Nashville Palace album. The wistful "No Place Like Home" was selected for his fourth hit single and first music video.

"Gosh, the first time I was on Nashville Now I thought I was gonna shake to death," he said. "Singin' to a camera is a totally different thing than to stand in front of an audience and sing. I don't know exactly what doin' a video will be like."

Thrust suddenly into the spotlight of stardom, Lib bought a van and a bread truck, outfitting the latter with bunks for his newly formed band. Both Lib and Randy quit the Palace in March in order to make the transition from honky-tonk performer to touring concert attraction. George Strait, Willie Nelson, and George Jones welcomed him onto their stages. Audiences cheered the youngster with the burnished baritone. As the hits piled up, the demand for him mounted feverishly.

"Things are movin' so fast, and it's a little surprisin' too," he reflected. "It's harder than I thought it would be, but I'm real happy with it. I can take the pace; it don't really bother me. As long as I get enough sleep and can exercise every day every day and feel good, I can deal with just about anything."

Storms Of Life sailed past gold, past platinum, and eventually sold more than three million copies. Critics began hailing him as the leader of a "new traditionalist" movement. In his wake, country radio stations began dumping pop ballads in favor of rootsier sounds. Record companies scrambled to find more honky-tonk acts, signing the likes of Dwight Yoakum, Ricky Van Shelton, Shenandoah, Clint Black, Alan Jackson, and Garth Brooks in the late 1980's. Veteran traditionalists such as Vern Gosdin and Gene Watson got a new lease on life. Randy became known as "the father" of a country-music revolution. It was said that "he kicked down the doors for other entertainers."

"Some people look at it like it's a new trend. But to me, it's just an old type of music that's being accepted by a wider group of people than it used to be."

By the end of 1986, Randy had been given multiple honors be the Academy Of Country Music in Los Angeles and was the Horizon Award winner of the Country Music Association in Nashville. Best of all, on December 20, 1986, Randy Travis was inducted into the cast of the Grand Ole Opry.

"It's hard to believe that in just a little over a year, all these things have happened," he said. "I could actually feel it getting better as the year went along. We talk to a lot of people at radio stations and they tell us about all these fans requesting our songs, and we see more and more people coming to our shows. It's kinda like a dream come true, I guess you could say."

"I always believed that something would happen. I just didn't know exactly kow long it would take. I never really got discouraged. I kept on believing and did whatever I had to do to get by".

His second Warners album, Always & Forever, was issued on his 28th birthday, on May 4, 1987. Its kickoff single, the sweet ode to devotion "Forever And Ever, Amen," rocketed up the charts to spend a month at #1. An endearingly humorous music video added to its widespread appeal. When the points were tallied, "Forever And Ever, Amen" was named the biggest country-music hit of the year. Three more titles from the album marched straight to the top of the charts as well - "I Won't Need You Anymore (Always And Forever)," "Too Gone Too Long," and "I Told You So," the last-named becoming his first self-composed smash.

Lib and Randy moved from Music Row when they bought a large tract of rural property along Marrowbone Creek northwest of Nashville. Their bread truck and van were replaced by gleaming tour buses. The record company began throwing celebratory parties for its new superstar, the most memorable one being an event at a fitness center with the theme "I Worked Out."

Randy swept the 1987 Academy Of Country Music Awards in April. He went on to ace the fan-voted Music City News Awards in June. Virtually unknown when he ignited the 1986 Fan Fair crowd, he hosted his label's all-star presentation at the 1987 festival. Even mainstream publications like Rolling Stone, Newsweek, People, and The Wall Street Journal were paying attention to him by this time.

Always & Forever surpassed its predecessor by selling five million copies. With textures ranging from the tender "Anything" to the torrid "What'll You Do About Me," the album was a textbook example of "new traditionalism" at its best. It justifiably earned a Grammy Award for best Country Vocal Performance, Male.

As ferocious as the pace was before, now it reached warp speed. By 1988 Randy was the crown prince of country music. Despite the pressure, he continued to conduct himself with quiet dignity, politeness, and soft-spoken grace. In interviews, he was disarmingly candid about his hell-raising past, deliberate about his passion for hard-core country music, and always honest about who he was.

In 1988-89, "Honky Tonk Moon," "Deeper Than The Holler," and "Is It Still Over?" all emerged as #1 hits from his two-million-selling, Grammy-awarded collection Old 8 x 10. His remake of Brook Benton's sonorous "It's Just A Matter Of Time" continued his chart-topping ways at the end of the year, and in 1990 the poignant "Hard Rock Bottom Of Your Heart" and nostalgic "He Walked On Water" became two more Randy Travis smashes. All three appeared on his two-million-selling album No Holdin' Back, as did the sprightly Western swinger "Card Carryin' Fool."

By the dawn of the 90's, Randy was country music's top-grossing concert star. By the time he turned 30 he'd sold more than 13 million records. Despite the enormity of his accomplishments, he remained the most easygoing of entertainers. He maintained his loyalty to the country audience, never once putting on airs or courting pop-media attention. He was still so unfailingly humble that he seemed more like a beginner than a superstar.

"I just wanted to make a living singing country music," he explained quietly. "That's all it boils down to."

One reason for Randy's humility was that he remained in awe of the great artists who'd preceded him. In short, he was still a fan. And that was the premise of Heroes & Friends, his 1990 album of duets. It included collaborations with such legends as George Jones ("A Few Ole Country Boys"), Merle Haggard ("All Night Long"), B.B. King ("Waiting On The Light To Change"), and Tammy Wynette ("We're Strangers Again").

The music industry had now moved from LPs to the new format of compact discs. A new generation of country stars was on the scene, but Randy kept up with the changing times with a continued spree of chart-topping hits and ever more personable music-video appearances.

In 1991 he issued "Point Of Light" as a song for President George Bush's campaign for volunteerism. The President was outspoken about his love for country music, so the singer really wanted the record to succeed.

"I talked to Mr. Bush Shortly after the single came out. It was funny because it had only been out for a couple of weeks and he was asking me how it was doing. I wasn't sure it was going to do well, but I said, 'Well, we got a great start and most every radio station in the country is playing it. It looks like its going to be a hit record.' He was real happy about that".

"I flew to Washington to sing the song on the White House lawn for a presentation of the Point Of Light Foundation's awards. It was closely tied to the President because of the 'thousand points of light' remarks he made when he was running for office. He was trying to educate people about how to go in and help others. I sang the song at the beginning of the awards, and then at the end I went up to sing it again. The President and Mrs. Bush and Tony Danza and Andrae Crouch and a lot of other people who were on the stage all sang it together. So that was a really nice deal."

"Point Of Light" became yet another massive hit and was included on Randy's million-selling High Lonesome album. This record reflected a renewed burst of songwriting creativity by Randy Travis. It includes his big hit song collaborations with Alan Jackson, "Forever Together" and "Better Class Of Losers." In 1992 Alan Jackson had a hit with "She's Got The Rhythm (And I Got The Blues)," another tune cowritten with Randy. The album's "Allergic To The Blues" was composed by Jackson with Jim McBride. "I'm Gonna Have A Little Talk" was cowritten by Randy Travis and Don Schlitz. And the star had a hand in two of the other songs on the High Lonesome album as well.

The two "nobodies" from North Carolina were now at the top of the country-music world. Lib Hatcher shrewdly invested the money that was pouring in, chiefly in Music Row real estate. The couple also bought a vacation home (also rental) in Hawaii. "But mostly, I live on the bus," Randy noted dryly. He finally got around to marrying his patron, manager, and longtime love in 1991.

The following year, Randy Travis was awarded a gold certification for Forever & Ever a collection of his personable music videos. He also made history as the first artist to release two volumes of greatest hits simultaneously. Both earned platinum record awards. In addition to surveying his prior accomplishments, the albums included new performances. And these would rank among the most brilliant of his career - the bluesy baritone bopper "If I Didn't Have You" and the masterfully tender "Look Heart, No Hands." They still rank as two of the greatest country vocal performances of modern times.

But their singer was exhausted. After 14 years of "singing for his supper" every single night, Randy Travis was restless. He pulled off the road in 1992 and has never again returned to the relentless pace of his early years.

"I reached the point of burnout. I got to where I just felt like if I had to get on that bus again, I was gonna go crazy, lose my mind, and start tearing stuff up. We had worked nonstop for eight years. If we weren't on the road, I was doing interviews, trying to write songs, and trying to record. Plus, we had the cattle business, the horse business, the construction company. There was no way to get away from any of it. And waking up in a different town every day was driving me nuts. I just had to back away from it for a while."

Randy Travis was raised riding and shooting and had always hankered to be a cowboy-movie actor - so he and Lib headed West. In addition to providing guitar lessons for his children, Harold Traywick had also given them horses.

"I spent all my life practicing quick draw and riding horses, teaching them tricks. I thought I'd spent a lot of time doing things that do me no good whatsoever. It finally paid off."

Trying his hand at a new gig, Randy acted in Frank And Jesse with Rob Lowe in Arkansas and New Mexico. In Los Angeles, he filmed Dead Man's Revenge with Bruce Dern. Randy also took a role as a gambler in Maverick, starring Mel Gibson, and Outlaws: The Legend Of O.B. Taggart, starring Mickey Rooney and Ben Johnson, featured a Randy Travis appearance as well. Other productions in which he has appeared include Steven Seagal's Fire Down Below, Francis Ford Coppola's The Rainmaker, Patrick Swayze's Black Dog, the TV movie Texas, and two episodes of Matlock and five episodes - more than any other guest - of Touched By An Angel.

"Acting was a way for me to learn something new,' he said. "Learning keeps you young. If you do the same thing over and over, you get burned out. To be honest, everything happened so fast in the early days that I didn't have time to enjoy it. Early on, I was scared to death.

"I want to get to the point where I'm a confident actor," he declared. "I don't have any great visions of winning awards. I just want to work at it."

He was far from inactive musically. In fact, the soundtrack for his Western TV special Wind In The Wire became his 1993 album of the same title. The package included appreciative liner notes by singing-cowboy legends Gene Autry and Monte Hale. In addition to featuring the likes of "Cowboy Boogie" and "Memories Of Old Santa Fe," Wind In The Wire reminded its listeners of the vibrant tradition of Hawaiian singing cowboys. That was only fitting, since the CD was recorded near Randy's home on the island of Maui.

Back in Nashville, Randy next recorded This Is Me. Released in 1994, it proved to be a potent return to form by spawning four Top 10 hits: the darkly humorous "Before You Kill Us All," the heartfelt fatherhood portrait "The Box" (cowritten by Randy), the CD's sadly written title tune, and the luxuriously romantic "Whisper My Name" - the last of which hit #1. The album was awarded a gold record.

"Everybody's looking at it like a comeback," he noted with surprise at the time. "People are walking up to me and saying, 'Good to have you back in the business.' I go, 'What!? I ain't been out of the business.' People think that I walked away from music. They think I haven't worked - I just wasn't touring. I wanted to rest a little bit last year, but it didn't happen. I had no idea that it was gonna come out the way it did - five films back-to-back was not my plan.

"Anyway, I think this is the best album I've done in 10 years," he continued. "I'm real proud of this record. I wanted to put together an album that has nothing but singles on it".

This Is Me was indeed a CD full of potential hits. In addition to its four radio favorites, the collection included such gems as the roadhouse romp "Honky Tonk Side Of Town" and the delightful, harmony-laced dance-floor ditty "Gonna Walk That Line."

The 1996 collection Full Circle closed out a chapter in the remarkable Randy Travis saga. Its sizzling hillbilly rocker "Would I" was a startling demonstration of just how at ease this stylist is with whiplash-strength, up-tempo material. "Highway Junkie," on the other hand, was a rumbling trucker's lament. In 1997 Randy narrated the #1 children's video of the year, Annabelle's Wish. When he returned to music-making with 1998's You And You Alone, Randy switched from Warner Bros. Records to the DreamWorks label ant to producers Byron Gallimore and James Stroud.

"Never have I heard Randy sound more sure of himself," commented Stroud on the singer's late '90's recording projects. "His voice has that unmistakable believability.."

"I'm feeling more confident than I ever have," the singer agreed. "Doing shows is more fun than it's ever been. And the new songs we've found are great. This album is 'me' with an edge, I guess you could say. We're getting back on the right road."

And how. "Out Of My Bones," "Spirit Of A Boy, Wisdom Of A Man," and the working-man's parable "The Hole" all emerged as Top 10 hits from You And You Alone in 1998. As 1999 dawned, the clever, jazzy "Stranger In My Mirror" became the CD's fourth hit single. And by participating in the all-star "event" record "Same Old Train," Randy picked up his third Grammy that February.

One of the stand-out tracks on his DreamWorks follow-up A Man Made Out Of Stone was the rhythm-happy "No Reason To Change." This album brought Randy Travis to the threshold of the new millennium. With his record sales now surpassing 20 million, he could look back at one of the most extraordinary careers in country music history. He is in a rarified position as one of the ten biggest-selling country artists of all time. He has more than 25 Top 10 hits under his belt, plus more than 50 major show-business accolades. His position in the annals of music is assured. But he is far from through.

He continues to act, and he continues to sing. At this writing, Inspirational Journey, the debut Randy Travis gospel album, was nominated for a 2001 Grammy Award, and it has been on the charts for 73 weeks. Meanwhile, he says he's still just as committed to the traditional country music he loves, as he was when he first wandered the streets of Music Row 20 years ago.

"I believe in every song I record," he says, "and I'm still going for the best. I had my point of view. I didn't want to do anything else but country music. And I haven't."

Robert K. Oermann
Nashville, Tennessee