Sign up for newsletter
 

Campbell hopes to be second time lucky

By Jana Pendragon, September 1995

It's been a long ride from the open spaces of New Mexico to the streets of Nashville for honky tonker Stacy Dean Campbell.

A veteran of the music business, Campbell, a perfectionist with a style described asschizophrenic" in the best sense of the word, is celebrating the long awaited release of his second album, "Hurt City."

His first outstanding effort, "Lonesome Wins Again" released in 1992, established him as a significant talent even though it did not the win the chart topping numbers.

Now with two discs under his belt, Campbell can look back where he's been and be proud of his accomplishments as a contemporary country and western artist who did not forsake the heritage of the music.

But Campbell's life was not always so glorious. A shy child, whose parents divorced when he was three, Campbell was influenced early on by his father, Buddy, a gospel singer.

Raised by his grandparents much of the time, Campbell gave them credit for his musical tastes. His grandfather was a big Marty Robbins fan, a western singer, who, like Campbell today, fused country and western music into a glowing art form that inspired.

Campbell, a one-time criminal justice student in Oklahoma City, considers Robbins to be a hero of sorts. It was songs like "You Gave Me a Mountain" and "Smokin' Cigarettes and Drinkin' Coffee Blues" that moved the child.

"As a (young) kid, music as just noise, like most kids," Campbell said. "I was too busy riding dirt bikes and playing Little League baseball."

But something in Robbins' voice called Campbell to attention. "One of the reasons I really got into Marty Robbins is because he didn't sing with a whole lot of twang in his voice," Campbell said. "He had a real smooth crooning voice. I wasn't familiar with that (style) in country music until I heard him sing."

"I don't have a whole lot of twang in my voice when I sing, so I think with Marty, he was a hero," Campbell said. "I knew I was a country singer, and that's the kind I want to be."

Also important to the growing boy was Johnny Cash, Ray Price, Patsy Cline and Tammy Wynette. "I was kind of drawn to people like Tammy Wynette," he said. "There's nobody, never has been, never will be - that sounds just like her."

"I love that old school stuff so much," he said. "Each artist sounds like 'that person" and there is no mistaking who it is."

The distinctive harmonies of the Everly Brothers clinched it for the youngster, who claimed
they taught him how to sing.

Raised far from the maddening crowds of Music City in the wild, wild west where life takes a different slant is also a factor in Campbell's sound. When asked if he thought being raised on the other side of the Rockies mattered, Campbell said, "Yes, I think so. I wasn't raised in an area that had a real Southern drawl as far as people speaking. I never developed a lot of that...I have developed more of it since I've been in Nashville."

Campbell's brother, Spencer, a professional musician, early on encouraged his brother's vocal prowess. That led to participation in the Nickles during the 1980's, as well as trips to Nashville to visit his brother. During these trips, the younger Campbell developed the urge to write songs.

His move to Nashville signaled a time of both personal and professional growth. "This is an incredibly powerful town for me," Campbell said. "Just sitting in the Ryman last night listening to that Patsy Cline stuff...that's a real heavy thing for me. It's very intimidating and in some ways very scary. To jump into the same river with all of these great people..."

As for his artistic identity, Campbell said, "Well, there is some insecurity that goes with that. I think it's very important for me to come out and do what I feel comfortable with."

"I do think it's very important for artists to come out and be themselves (and) to figure out what they are before they jump into the stream of things," he said."It is important to our format, to country music," he said. "That's what country music has always been to me...I think it is important for artists to dress the way they feel comfortable, to sing the way they feel comfortable and to stand up and say, 'I may not sound like everybody else, but I am a country singer.'"

Campbell said he was "proud that I don't sound like everybody else. I don't go into my recording sessions and say, 'I'm going to be a rebel, I'm going to change the course of things...I don't do that at all. I just go in and pick songs and write songs and sing them the way I feel comfortable."

While success hasn't been easy or quick for the soft-spoken singer, he is philosophical. "Sometimes, it takes people a little while to get familiar with you and to learn to like what you are doing," he said.

"It's just like when you meet someone on the street," he said. "You're not instantly best friends with or even instantly ready to go to dinner with them. It may take you a little while to get to know that person. Hopefully, that's what will happen with my music."

1   |   2 NEXT PAGE »