Tracy Byrd at Little Opry
by Tamela Meredith Partridge
Tracy Byrd has spent the past 12 years building his country music career the old-fashioned way – one fan, one hit and one platinum record at a time.
“I was a huge country fan growing up,” said Byrd, whose own fan club members are known as the Byrd Watchers. “Over the years, a number of the legends and heroes that I love—Hank Williams Sr., Merle Haggard, Marty Robbins, George Jones, Ray Price, and George Strait—were pushing the musical envelope. And now it’s okay for country music to experiment, have good grooves and a little different instrumentation.”
Byrd and his “Only Way To Fly” band members will perform at the Little Nashville Opry on Saturday, November 13, at 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
“The folks at the Little Nashville Opry listen and appreciate the music maybe a little more than some crowds,” Byrd said. “Some crowds love the music, but they’re primarily there to party and have a good time. And I encourage that. But it’s always nice having a crowd like the Little Nashville Opry that tends to listen to every word and every note while you’re playing and singing the song.”
Byrd’s ‘92 debut single, “That’s The Thing About A Memory,” was followed by such memorable Billboard Top Five hits as, “Holdin’ Heaven,” “Lifestyles of the Not So Rich and Famous,” “Watermelon Crawl,” “The Keeper of the Stars,” and “Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo.”
“I used to hear a song and say, ‘It ain’t country,’” said the Beaumont, Texas, singer, songwriter and guitarist. “I’ve come to realize that even if a song has a pop-sounding melody and chord progression, when I put my voice on it, it sounds country.”
A second collection of career milestones, “Tracy Byrd’s Greatest Hits,” will be released in early 2005. The greatest hits album contains two new songs—“Johnny Cash,” and its first single, “Revenge of a Middle-Aged Woman.”
“Revenge of a Middle-Aged Woman is a pretty neat little song that I think everybody will get a chuckle out of,” Byrd said. “Except for maybe the guys that this has happened to—then it might bring back some unpleasant memories for them.”
The award-winning performer, nicknamed T-Byrd, also entertains in the kitchen with the best-selling cookbook, “Eat Like A Byrd,” and his Tracy Byrd line of marinades, rubs and seasonings.
“We use my spices and marinades in over half the cookbook recipes,” said Byrd, who donates a portion of the product sales to benefit The Children’s Miracle Network. “But by no means should the title confuse anyone. Even though there are some recipes in there that are considered low-fat or low-carb, due to the grilling techniques, you’re not going to eat like a little bird. You’re going to eat like a Tracy Byrd—and he eats.”
An avid outdoorsman, Byrd currently hosts the ESPN2 TV show, “Hunting The Country,” and the new Outdoors Channel show, “Step Outside.”
“My late Grandma Mavis “Na Na” Vaughn taught me to fish and hunt,” Byrd said. “She was sort of like a grandfather rather than a grandmother. It really made us close spending all that time together in the outdoors, and I want my kids to love the outdoors like I did growing up.”
Another great family-oriented outdoors event is the annual Tracy Byrd Homecoming Weekend. The three-day festival is held in Beaumont, Texas, each spring and consists of golf and fishing tournaments and a Tracy Byrd and Friends concert. Over the years, the event has raised thousands upon thousands of dollars for a variety of charities.
For Byrd, every lesson he’s learned is reflected in his music.
“It’s about my love of life and career, and taking advantage of every minute of every day,” Byrd says. “It’s about having fun, loving your loved ones, and paying attention to the true meaning of life.”
Visit Tracy’s websites at <www.tracybyrd.com> and <www.tbyrd.com>.