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Daryle Singletary performs at 2008 NAEC annual meeting

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Photo by Jody Shackelford
With a schedule of shows from coast to coast and new venues being tacked on at every turn, country music artist Daryle Singletary wowed a packed audience at the Salem Civic Center June 5, playing hit songs like "I Let Her Lie," "Amen Kind of Love," and "Too Much Fun," with newer songs like "That's Why I Still Sing This Way."

Singletary said he is proud to play in Salem and he has come a long way from Cairo, Ga.

"It's awesome. I have been fortunate. My first record came out in 1995 and I had my first hit in 1996 with 'I let Her Lie.' It is neat but also humbling to see how this business goes up and down," Singletary said.

Although Singletary hasn't been in the top 40 since the late 1990s, he said he has been having fun and working consistently since July of 1996. Singletary said he is, "Having a big time."

"I grew up singing gospel music. My whole family sings actually. I just knew I wanted to be a singer. I ain't never wanted to do nothing else. I just love performing. Ever since I was nine years old I have been playing. I won my first talent show in the fifth grade," Singletary said.

"I graduated high school in June of 1990 and left in October of 1990. I moved to Nashville," Singletary said.

Arriving in Nashville Singletary moved into an apartment with some friends of his from Georgia and began to spread his musical wings.

"I just started playing around town. Anywhere where somebody would get me up to play, if I could sing one or two songs I was happy because that is what I moved to town to do. I did that until 1993. One night I was at a club playing and a guy walked up to me and said, 'Giant Publishing is looking for a country demo singer,' and I said, 'Well hell, I will do it.' So, I went and started doing demos for Giant and the first song I demoed was 'I Let Her Lie.' It just kind of worked into a record deal," Singletary said.

After being in the industry for over a decade Singletary still gets a thrill from performing for audiences across the nation but the feeling he had when he first was signed was unique, he said.

"It is amazing. It is kind of like being in love, words just can't express. It's a dream and still, I can honestly say at the time I was like, 'This is awesome,' but I had no idea. I have been very fortunate and I am very thankful for my success and I give all the credit to the good Lord but you kind of think about it, here I am one fish in this big old sea. I am fortunate," he said.

"I didn't think about it. You get a record deal and it's awesome but then you really start to realize how important it is and how the stuff we do can change people's lives. It sure changed our lives," he said.

When Singletary isn't amazing country fans with old favorites and new toe tappers, he said he is at home in Georgia with his wife Kerry and his farm. Hunting, farming and team roping top the list of favorite activities around the house. "I like to go turkey hunting with my buddy Ronnie and we always go duck hunting over here in Corning. I got a friend that has a lodge over there," he said.

Singletary said he enjoys the road and his home life but has a Music City education hard earned.

"When I moved to Nashville I went to every bar, did everything and paid my dues. I'm still paying my dues I think, but you get to a point where you start figuring out the dos and the don'ts, the things you have to and the things you don't. It's hard for me to be politically correct sometimes. What I do is from the heart," he said.

Singletary said his brand of country just isn't the hot commodity in Nashville these days.

"I think the cream will rise to the top. May it be me or someone else that carries the torch for country music. I love traditional country music and nowadays it is hard to get anyone to listen to that in the industry. There are still people out here that want to listen to country music but I don't play the game. I should probably, but what you see is what you get," he said.

"George Jones is probably my favorite singer of all times -- Merle Haggard, Randy Travis, Keith Whitley, the more traditional singing guys that came along when talent meant something. That just sometimes isn't true nowadays with all the technical things we can do now on records," Singletary said.

Newer artists who have caught Singletary's attention include Brad Paisley, Josh Turner and Carrie Underwood. "Sarah Evans is probably one of my favorite girl singers," he said.

With a career in music firmly in hand, the question, "What if?" looms. Had Singletary not made the choice to follow his dream he said he has a feeling that he would be in uniform.

"I would probably be in law enforcement; game warden or trooper. I am just fascinated with that," he said.

One venue Singletary said he is proud to play is military bases.

"I am a big supporter of what the military is doing. I am proud of them and very honored that they are over there taking care of us so we can live in the land of the free and the home of the brave," Singletary said.

Singletary plans to tour the rest of the year and add more shows to his schedule and the future will take care of itself, he said.

"I can honestly say I have been through my ups and downs in this career; I have been though personal stuff. I'm not just getting rich but I am making a living and I am happy. In 10 years if I can be happy and doing what I love, whatever that might be, I believe that is all I can ask for," Singletary said.

Singletary has been out of the spotlight of the country music industry for quite some time.

"I would love to have a hit record," he said.

Singletary said for a chart topper, the industry would have to change. "People growing ... and playing some country music," he said.

"What goes on stage is sometimes better than what goes on the record. It is more real you might say. It is not manufactured. Country music to me is very simple. They are just really commercializing it. When I hear that a song that I put out is too country for country radio, there is a problem. I have heard that," Singletary said.

"That is just my opinion. I don't know everything and I don't profess to know everything, but if you ask me I will tell you. I have gotten into trouble for my opinion before, but if I say it, I stand behind it," he said.

A lot of country artists come from rural areas such as Singletary's hometown of Cairo, Ga., and he never fails to give advice to an aspiring singer.

"I moved to Nashville in 1990 right out of high school with a dream of being a country singer. Persistence is a big thing in Nashville, just not giving up, whether it is being a photographer or writing an article in the newspaper. I always tell people if you have a dream go for it, move to Nashville," Singletary said.

Meeting as many people as Singletary has over the years, he said he has been asked the "how do I make it" question several times although one instance sticks out in his mind.

"It's all about living your dream. I told Josh Turner that at a fair one time in South Carolina. One of the most flattering things is when he mentioned that. I was watching GAC and he told the story about me meeting him at that fair and me telling him. I said, 'go for it, move to Nashville and live your dream, man.' He told about that in his first CD as well," he said.

"Kids today listing me as an influence, it makes me feel old as hell, but it's still flattering because I love county music. If it wasn't for country music I would go crazy," he said.

Of all the shows Singletary has played across the country and all the fun he has had, a night in 1997 in Anaheim Calif., trumped all others.

"I had a hit record then. I was probably about 40 pounds lighter, looking good, feeling good, singing good. We walked in that place and it was freaking being like Garth Brooks man, it was just wall to wall people, on their feet, screaming the whole time. It was nonstop. It was one of them nights you walk out there and you say, 'this is how I wish it was every night.' Just one of them nights I will never forget. It rocked," he said.

It has been said that Singletary has the best neo-traditional voice in country music today. Singletary said he would love a new hit and with a tour touching so many people and the changing tides of country music, there may just be a few more hits in that old guitar.

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