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Singletary explains why he sings it his way

By Jeffrey B. Remz, June 2002

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Singletary never met Yoakam. The tracks were done and sent off to Los Angeles where Yoakam is based and turned in his recording.

On "Walk Through This World With Me," Singletary says he "called Miss Nancy (Jones' wife) and asked if George would mind singing on the record with me. She was like, 'I'm sure he'd like to do anything he could.' She put him on the phone with me. I asked him, and he agreed to. It was simply amazing."

Jones came to the studio for a recording in January and February. "We had our vocals done. We did all the vocals at my drummer/producer's house. I asked, 'Do you mind singing vocals in an unfinished attic? He said 'I don't care.' I went to George's house (to get him), and he was kind of amazed that we got the sound that we did in an unfinished attic. It was pretty neat to hear George sit and render as he does so well."

Perhaps the most touching recording is a vocal recitation from Johnny Paycheck on "Old Violin," which Paycheck recorded in 1986. Paycheck has been extremely sick for more than a year, in a hospital with emphysema.

"The record was pretty much done - my part - with the exception of mixing it and mastering it," says Singletary. "Nick Hunter was talking with me one day and knew what a fan I was of Johnny Paycheck. He asked, 'what do you think if I try to get Johnny Paycheck to get the recitation of 'Old Violin.' At the time, it was defintely a shot in the dark. We called (Paycheck's manager) Marty Martel."

Martel told Singletary that Paycheck "has been asked to do a number of things for the last 18 months that he's been in the hospital (and always said no), but I'll be happy to ask him."

Within hours, Martel called back and "relayed that that he had talked to the old man as he referred to him (and said) 'I haven't seen the old man as happy about doing something as he's been in the hospital.' I was flattered."

Singletary says he "was not (there) when they get the original recitation."

But with a finished song in hand, "I had the honor of going to the health center where Johnny is staying and playing him the finished (song). There were tears of joy, which was very flattering to me."

"I had become friends with Paycheck when he was in health to work on the road. That was about three or four years ago. I'm looking now at a picture of Johnny in my office. He wrote "My kind of singer." That was actually in '97 when he wrote that."

The only new song was the title cut. "I've had a demo of it for a couple of years now and wanted to do it for a long time, but just didn't have the right album to put it on," says Singletary.

Singletary grew up in tiny Whigam, Ga., just over the Florida line in a middle to lower class family. He sang gospel, often in church and with a trio, Perfect Heart.

In the late '80s, Singletary formed his first country band, hitting the 4H and FFA circuit. "We spent more time in the garage practicing than playing for anybody," he says.

"At the time, it was a fun thing. It was something that I was starting to get the fever to do. It was starting to become a passion to me. I had a passion to sing. Not always a passion for country music."

Around his junior of high school, though, Singletary thought maybe he should hit Nashville and seek a career.

He graduated high school in May 1990 and moved to Nashville five months later.

"I guess people are cut out to be lawyers and doctors. I grew up singing. I just knew I wanted to sing. What level, I had no idea at the time. It was a deal where you get your graduation, and you say what are you going to do with the rest of your life. My answer was I want to be a country singer. The way to do is to move where they're making country singers."

"I had fortunately saved some money. I did the open mic nights. In '91, a guy walked into the Broken Spoke Saloon in Nashville and came up to me and said 'Son, I think you have some potential.'"

He demoed an "Old Pair of Shoes" that Randy Travis later cut on a greatest hits album. That led to a management deal with Libby Travis, Randy's wife, a decade ago. He also worked in their office, answering phones, running errands and doing demos.

"A guy walked in and asked if I would be interested in doing some demos for a publishing company here in Nashville. One of the first songs I demoed was 'I Let Her Lie.' (Giant Records head) James Stroud asked who was singing."

Stroud also caught a Singletary show at a local club and offered him a deal.

The first two Giant albums - Travis helped produce the debut - did pretty well, but a third one did not and new label head Doug Johnson told Singletary, "The life here has kind of dwindled down to nothing."

"I walked out of there with an attitude that things happen for a reason," Singletary says. "The hill you climb, there's always something on the other side a little better."

"I was in total agreement. It didn't scare me by no means. I knew we were going to have the conversation. I'm just glad it came sooner than later."

Singletary's first Audium disc, "Now and Again," (2000) included six songs from his Giant days.

Singletary clearly relished the freedom Audium gave him in cutting the album. Singletary says he was told "Here's the budget. Go make a country record. The freedom allows an artist to be an artist. Allows him to be more of himself. Not try to make the artist something they're not. Not try to make the artist radio friendly. By all means, I have no rights or reasons (to complain) of what Giant Records did for me. They got my career started and gave me the oppotunity. Without Giant Records, no one would know Daryle Singletary."

For the new disc, Singletary was handed $60,000 budget, but didn't need that much. "We made it for under $40,000," he says.

"At Giant, my first record was $150,000," says Singletary. "By no means to put Giant down, I think this is by far the best record I've ever made. The most fun record I've ever made."

"I've developed as an artist and a singer of who I am in my career. I think that's got more to do with it than anything," he says.

And just what is Singletary's self-perception?

"I think I'm real. There's nothing made up about me. What you see is what you get. It's true to life country music, and that's why I sing the way I do."

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