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Clark flies high with 'Better Things'

By Joel Bernstein, September 1995

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"I had a writing appointment with Chris," Clark said. "He writes with a lot of artists. He brought in Tom Shapiro. The first song we wrote was "Better Things To Do." Every song we wrote we were extremely happy with."

Asked if they have to make an effort to try to write in a different style for different artists, Clark replied "They write with so many artists. They can write in different styles. It doesn't require a conscious effort. Writing with artists is almost the only way to get songs cut now. It's easier to get the song into their hands right off the bat. They know the difference. They write what they're best at."

The danger in a newcomer sharing writer's credits with established songwriters is that people might question the extent of her contribution. "It was about a third equal each way," she said. "But I was very happy to get a song on the album that I wrote by myself. I wanted people to know that I really am a songwriter, that I don't just come in with a couple of lines and then sit off in a chair while they finish it up."

Mercury took an unusual step in promoting Clark before she even had a single released to radio. They took four new artists - Wesley Dennis, Clark, Richey and Stegall, (who in one of the perks of the job signed himself as an artist) - on a junket to various cities, including Boston, solely for the purpose of meeting radio, press, and their own label's regional promotional and sales people. The four artists performed acoustically in a round- robin similar to a "songwriter's night."

Earlier, as attendees wolfed down ribs and beer, they heard Clark's as yet unreleased album in the background. Without question, many people came away from these nights knowing a star was about to be born.

"It was great for us to do it," Clark said. "Not every label has four artists who can perform raw and bare. We brought something out (to other cities) that usually only happens in Nashville. I'm grateful for it. It did our careers a lot of good. And we all became good friends."

Clark is well aware that many artists have made impressive debuts, only to fade with a hurried, weak follow-up album. She intends to spend much of the winter writing her next album. "You've got to block out time and be strict about it.. The second album is even more important than the first."

Even in success, things happen to remind of the real world. Clark's album is "dedicated to the memory of Edward H. "Little Eddie" Bayers III (July 14, 1980-February 25, 1995)." "Eddie Bayers played drums on my album," Clark said of the well-known session man. "His little boy was killed in a motorcycle accident three weeks after the session. I had never met his son but he talked about him a lot. It really bothered me and moved me. No one should ever have to go through losing a child like that. He was only 15."

But on the musical end, Clark's own career is going much better. How did her music get the label "Turbo Traditional?"

"I was an airplane with Keith Stegall, and asked him how my music should be described," she said. " He said 'Wesley Dennis is really traditional. You're "Turbo Traditional' I thought that fit. I try to keep some traditional elements as well as some hip elements. You can't please everybody but you can try."

With turbo jets on, Clark's career is about to fly high.

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