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Cryner gets a second chance

By Joel Bernstein, March 1996

Trisha Yearwood's first single went straight to Number One. So did Faith Hill's. Terri Clark's debut missed by the top by just one small rung.

And Bobbie Cryner? Her first single missed Number One by a country radio mile.

In fact, none of the singles from Cryner's critically acclaimed first album became any sort of hit. That self-titled 1993 effort turned out to be her only one for Epic. Becoming a free agent, she signed with MCA and has now released the aptly titled album "Girl of Your Dreams."

This would seem to be the right place for her. MCA, more than any other label in Nashville, has shown the patience to work with talented acts who don't fit within the narrow demands of today's country radio (e.g., The Mavericks).

Although Cryner still is not setting the radio waves ablaze, her latest single "You'd Think He'd Know Me Better" is getting a decent response and may yet establish her.

"Everything is going on schedule" says Cryner from her Nashville home. "I prefer a slow climb. If I take it slower, it might last a little longer. MCA seems to deliver, unless my curse gets hold of them, and they have a changing of the guard."

"At Sony (Epic's parent company), a new regime took over and I got lost in the shuffle," she says. "I asked off the label. (MCA Nashville president) Tony Brown was the force in getting me on to MCA. We started working on this album a year ago. We're already working on the next one."

Barry Beckett, who produced "Girl...," has also produced a number of successful country artists, including Neal McCoy and Kenny Chesney. "He's very well-rounded, not afraid of anything," Cryner says. "We tend to like the same songs more than Tony and I do. K.T. Oslin is starting to produce, and maybe I'll ask her to produce a couple of sides."

Cryner wasn't sure what kind of reaction her second effort would receive. "I was scared because the last one got good reviews, but radio didn't respond. You get all kinds of reasons why not, but you don't know what to believe. I was spoiled by the media, but this one is getting even better reviews. For people to listen to that many albums and really like mine is a compliment. You can sell millions of albums without a Number One single, and others go Number One on radio but don't sell gold...I'm shooting for sustenance rather than a big cloud, but no rain."

Cryner is involved in writing many of her songs, but her forte is ballads. "I usually go outside for uptempo songs," she says. "I don't have to write a song to get it on the album. I like to look for people who've never had a publishing deal. I listen to just about everything I could possibly listen to."

"You can't copyright a song title," Cryner says, "I have a song called 'I Didn't Know My Own Strength' that we were going to use as a single. But Lorrie Morgan came out with hers, so we decided not to release it as the first single. It's a completely different song, although it's about the same thing. (Former Exile member) Sonny Le Maire, one of the co-writers of the song was sitting in a restaurant just after we wrote the song. Another writer came up to him and said 'I just got a cut by Lorrie Morgan on a song I wrote.' When he told him the title, Sonny couldn't believe it."

Cryner's personal life has had its ups-and-downs, but has stabilized now.

"I got divorced about a year-and-a-half ago," she says. "I was technically married 14 years. We're pretty much best friends now. Sometimes there's a void. 'Did I do the right thing?' But I never regretted moving to Nashville ever. The town I was in (in southwest Kansas) was nowhere, and I was going nowhere in it. It was the kind of rural town where you work or hang out at the Dairy Queen."

"Gordon Parker, who wrote the movie 'The Learning Tree' came from that area," Cryner says. "He said when he finally got on the train to leave he was terrified that the train would break down. The town was a vortex that would suck you back in. It was like The Twilight Zone. I finally loaded everything in that truck and got away from it. I hope to write a book someday. It'll be an auto-biography, but I'll have to disguise it as fiction."

Besides a new label, she also has a new manager. After years with Irv Woolsey , who also handles George Strait and Clay Walker, she is now with Evelyn Shriver. Shriver, known more for her public relations work, also manages James House.

"Irv is spread so thin, he doesn't have time for the baby acts," Cryner says. "I needed more attention. Irv was great about it. There are very few female managers. Irv was kind of a dad to me, and it was hard for me to talk to my dad. Evelyn understands the woman's side a little more."

Difficulty in getting on the radio requires other means of getting her music to the public. "We've done videos for the first two singles (from the new album)," she says. "The first one did its job, getting me into the stream."

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