How Very Nineties: Women Who Can Actually Sing, Part One


A woman who can actually sing:  Trisha Yearwood.

“Try Me Again”

“There Goes My Baby”

“If I Had Only Known”

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43 Comments

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43 Responses to How Very Nineties: Women Who Can Actually Sing, Part One

  1. Erik NorthNo Gravatar

    I don’t know whether the country music industry values Trisha anywhere as much as they did when she was the hot new artist of 1991. To me, it doesn’t appear that they do–not even her own label Big Machine, which I felt grossly under promoted her album HEAVEN, HEARTACHE, AND THE POWER OF LOVE in favor of Taylor Swift.

    I also think that country radio has a lot to do with all this, because it seems they can only think of her in terms of who she’s married to, and her debut single “She’s In Love With The Boy.” There’s a lot more to Trisha than just those two things themselves, and it’s just a little too easy for country radio (and the audience in general) to forget that (IMHO).

  2. One of the most underrated artists of the past few years at country radio. (Of course, more than 4/5 of these underrated artists are former female country superstars–one of my favs being Ms. Mary Chapin Carpenter).

    Anyways, Yearwood remains one of my favorite artists of all time, and I enjoy her music, regardless of radio play or not.

  3. Paul DennisNo Gravatar

    Trisha was one of those “once in a generation” vocalists – not every generation gets one, either – Patsy Cline in the 1950s, Connie Smith in the 1960s, (maybe) Linda Ronstadt in the 1970s, (maybe) k d lang in the 1980s, then Trisha in the 1990s

  4. CynthiaNo Gravatar

    She is one of the reasons I started and continued to listen to country music. I wish radio would wake up and play her again. Her last album was amazing.

  5. I will never get over the clarity of her vocals.

    Looking forward to the selections for the rest of this list.

  6. TomNo Gravatar

    …one star, two stars, three stars, four stars, five stars.

  7. BobNo Gravatar

    While Trisha does not write, she sure has a knack for picking great material. Her last album, HH&PL, is one of her best and her live performances are as good as her recordings. Hope to see another album from her soon and a tour to support it.

  8. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    She can sing and her voice has character/distinctiveness. Unfortunately, Those two elements do not always exist together in voices.

  9. Steve from BostonNo Gravatar

    Trisha Yearwood is a real fine place to start for this series. ;)

  10. bllNo Gravatar

    I am very disappointed in Big Machine’s lack of promotion of HHPOL.

    I agree with Erik; as big a fan as I am of her husband, she is far more then her first hit and marriage. I hope she get out from behind the stove and back in front of a microphone soon!

  11. MichaelNo Gravatar

    Oh, Trisha Yearwood. What a great way to start my morning and a perfect selection to kick off this new series. Many thanks!

  12. PatrickNo Gravatar

    She is a great singer. I have no doubt that LeAnn will be on the list as well.

  13. Erik NorthNo Gravatar

    One shouldn’t begrudge Trisha for authoring a couple of cookbooks if that is her pleasure, while she “cooks up” something on the musical side. I wouldn’t, anyway.

    The thing with HHPOL, though, is that, while it did sell well enough, getting to #10 on the C&W album chart and #19 on the overall Billboard Top 200, it still could have done a lot better. Trisha did do a fair amount of promotion for it as I recall; but Scott Borchetta, the head of Big Machine, put most of his bets on Taylor, which, in retrospect, given her oft-criticized onstage performances and a rather below-part voice, seems rather unwise on his part.

    Trisha may not be the most charismatic stage performer (neither were Linda or Emmylou, and they didn’t do too bad), but in the end it all comes down to the Voice. Even if it means another one to two year wait, when she does come out with a new project, fans and listeners who appreciate a good voice will likely snap it up like crazy and, hopefully, force the issue with country radio and her label, so that she does not get thrown under the bus.

  14. It really irks me that YEARS after “She’s In Love With The Boy,” the ACMs played the dang song when she won FVOTY. What the heck?

    And i agree with a lot of the comments on here.

  15. JosephNo Gravatar

    I am a huge fan of Trisha Yearwood and love most of her albums, including HHPOL, but I think it’s a tad unfair to blame Big Machine for her lack of recent airplay. She had numerous television and radio interviews to promote the album, two singles with high-budget music videos, and a third single after the first two failed to reach the top fifteen. Some say that the single choices weren’t the best, but the whole album was excellent. Pretty much any song would have been deserving of substantial airplay.

    I think the blame lies more squarely with country radio. Actually, I think almost all of the blame lies with country radio.

  16. Erik NorthNo Gravatar

    True, there’s a lot of blame to go around, especially at country radio. Still, the record label does make the decisions as to what becomes the “hit” from the album, and if they’re to take some of the credit for those hits being big, then they should take some of the responsibility as well if they flop.

    Perhaps there’s a middle ground here, however. Trisha seems to see herself as more of an album artist than as a hit singles artist, and that’s a concept that country radio has yet to grasp the way rock and roll has since the 1960s–the idea that an album can be a portrait and not just a snapshot.

  17. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar

    “…but Scott Borchetta, the head of Big Machine, put most of his bets on Taylor, which, in retrospect, given her oft-criticized onstage performances and a rather below-part voice, seems rather unwise on his part.”

    I’d hardly call it unwise, considering that Taylor is still one of the best-selling acts in popular music. She’s made Borchetta a lot of money.

    That’s not to say I wouldn’t like to see the label accomplish a Trisha radio comeback, though. If Reba can coexist peacefully with the young acts, so can she.

    I think we also have to keep in mind that today’s country radio has very little appreciation for veteran artists in general – not just Trisha. Most nineties acts only have one to three singles still in recurrent play, from what I’ve noticed, and it’s rare to hear anything from before the nineties at all. Obviously those things vary somewhat by region/station, but it’s been a long time since I’ve heard a Mark Chesnutt song that wasn’t “Bubba Shot the Jukebox” or “It’s a Little Too Late.”

  18. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar

    That those are the two Mark Chesnutt songs that are left on the radio is more depressing than there just being two left at all.

  19. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    Erik North Said: “Even if it means another one to two year wait, when she does come out with a new project, fans and listeners who appreciate a good voice will likely snap it up like crazy and, hopefully, force the issue with country radio and her label, so that she does not get thrown under the bus.”

    Not to be a cynic, but you’re a dreamer, my friend. :) I hope you’re right and I’m wrong though.

    And ditto to Kevin.

  20. Tara SeetharamNo Gravatar

    I hear “Too Cold at Home” here quite often. It always sticks out like a sore thumb, though.

    I finally saw Trisha live a week or so ago and it was such a treat. A true vocalist.

  21. chrisNo Gravatar

    i have never heard her sing reba’s if i had only known before.. it doesnt have quit the emotional stuff that reba’s had but its still very good

  22. claudiaNo Gravatar

    One of my most memorable concerts was Trisha at the Ryman in Oct 2001, only a month after the attacks. She walked out, unannounced, and, facing the flag, led us all in the Star Spangled Banner. Not a dry eye. Then she grinned, and dove into “She’s in Love With The Boy”, and things were normal again, at least for a little while. One of the best voices in all of Music. Sure hope she’ll soon put down the cookbooks, and head to the studio.

  23. This is just my opinion, and I have nothing to back it up with besides what I’ve heard about Borchetta and Yearwood’s business relationship. I know that he is a marketing whiz and it just seems to me that the label could have created a hit single out of the album if Trisha was willing to record radio-friendly material instead of making the album she did. Granted, it’s among her finest work and the songs would have worked great on 90s radio, but in all honestly HHPoL wasn’t a radio-friendly album. I don’t think Yearwood is the kind of artist to bend her music and song selection to suit country radio. She never has been from what I’ve seen. So my thoughts are that Borchetta probably brought her at least one song, thinking it would be a hit and Yearwood turned it down. And he probably didn’t believe in the album’s commercial abilities enough to bankroll the promotion properly. That artists like Reba (on a sister label) are still having major hits with weaker material is also a bit baffling.

    Still, the album was contemporary enough that it deserved radio airplay. So it’s hard to understand why it didn’t. I also think several of the points already made by others are valid.

  24. andieNo Gravatar

    i need a carrie underwood/trisha yearwood duet…can you say vocal heaven….love trisha.

  25. “i need a carrie underwood/trisha yearwood duet…can you say vocal heaven”

    No, but I can say ‘casting your pearls before swine’.

  26. Soul Miners DaughterNo Gravatar

    As much as I have been a fan of Trisha’s since she had a “greatest hit”… I have to be honest and say our girl needs a stylist when appearing on awards shows. Bless her heart, she always manages to find the. most. unflattering. dress. I recently saw her on some show and poor thing looked like a large walking sushi.
    She is such a beautiful lady but she wears clothes that *PRONOUNCE!* her weight. Send help.

  27. Tara SeetharamNo Gravatar

    No, but I can say ‘casting your pearls before swine’.

    Why?

  28. KNo Gravatar

    Although I think Trisha is extremely talented, I think she shoulders responsibility for her success- and lackthereof.

    Trisha may be recording music she wants, but I don’t think she should expect the industry to cater to her either.

    Every artist has their time to shine- unless you’re Reba or George (and you adapt with the times and make your music accodingly) you probably don’t have a chance at renewed success.

    If she was still culturally relevant and in-demand by fans she would be played on the radio.

  29. I think K is right – and she said what I tried to much clearer.

  30. MikeNo Gravatar

    Radio decides WHAT the fans should think is culturally relevant. If DJ’s, Music Directors and Program Directors laughed at Taylor Swift’s laughably bad singing voice on the air and off and didn’t play her music because of it, and instead were still playing singles from Trisha Yearwood, Patty Lovelace, Martina Mcbride, etc. then Taylor would not have near the recognition or star power she has. This is unless a grassroots movements swelled up and carried her to stardom. And that grassroots I believe would be unlikely as those kinds of movements are more likley to push the talented, under-recognized person which Taylor is not (talented vocally anyways). As well, people would and see more for themselves, not toeing the corporate radio/record label line, admitting to themselves that Taylor isn’t a very good vocalist and not wanting to bother with her.

  31. Erik NorthNo Gravatar

    With respect to Trisha adapting to the times, I have to wonder if by adapting, that means she has to try and be someone she isn’t at the age of 45 (going on 46). She is not a Reba or a George Strait, somebody who can whoop the crowd into a frenzy with a stage show; but this is not to take away from those artists’ vocal strengths. Trisha is merely a great singer, first and foremost.

    As for the choice of material–quite honestly, I’d rather have Trisha record what she feels is right for her on an emotional level, not what some record executive or radio program director thinks is a hit. If it means less airplay than, say, Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood, so be it. Trisha can sleep easier knowing she’s doing her thing, and let the chips fall where they may. That’s the kind of artist I respect.

  32. It’s hard to take serious a comment that misspells Patty Loveless.

  33. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    K,
    It’s not so much that Patty’s last name is spelled incorrectly as much as it’s just not the correct last name. “Lovelace” was Patty’s former husband’s last name, but, in the early eighties (almost thirty years ago), she modified the name to “Loveless” as her stage name when she decided to get serius about a country career.

  34. KNo Gravatar

    @J.R.Journey and Leann,

    The comment misspelling “Patty Lovelace” was not made by me. I didn’t even mention her name in my post. See Eric’s comment below mine for clarification.

    I agree with much of your post though, Eric. I’ve often thought that a big part of the reason Reba and George were able to be stay relevant in the format was because they changed their music to fit in with the current sound at radio.

    I’ve often wondered what determines whether an artist has “sold out” in order to stay relevant, or whether fans view that as simply being verstile enough to adapt to the changing of the format?

    With regards to Trisha, I do think there is a whole host of explanations for lack of success over the past few years, but that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t take some responsibilty. Would you ever hear an artist say “Although I’m an extremely successsful artist, I don’t want to take credit for my accomplishments?” I don’t think so; the same thing applies to faliure in my mind.

    While I realize the enormous impact of radio on artists, I think it’s only a small ingredient to success. If you’re an established artist, you will keep selling records and being successful regardless of whether radio plays your music.
    Look no furthur than musical legends who are long past radio success; even the Dixie Chicks are a great example.

    With regards to Taylor; the roots of her career began when she gained a big following on Myspace, and she landed her record deal after playing a showcase in Nashvile. She’s played on the radio a lot now, but keep in the mind that she also sells boatloads of records, has won countless awards, and is favored in the worlds of both pop and country music. An artist who is that popular is naturally going to get tons of airplay because people are chosing to support her career.

  35. NicolasNo Gravatar

    Trisha Yearwood’s last album is quite good, but Jasper County is still much much better, so I hope that her next album is more like that one (and it wouldn’t be such a wise idea, since it was quite successful)

    Either way you spin it though, I like Trisha and would love to have her back on radio

  36. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    Oops, my comment should have been directed toward Mike.

    Nicolas,
    I liked Jasper County a lot, but think Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love is, overall, better.

    Well, I suppose Trisha can take responsibility for not being played on radio today if taking responsibility means that she’s not bowing to the pressure of making crappy music, which is mostly what’s being played on the radio these days with very few exceptions. I made myself listen to an entire mainstream country music countdown a few weeks ago on Sirus Radio, which is based on requests. I was pretty underwhelmed and sometimes horrified (Uncle Cracker, anybody?) by what I heard. I’d love for quality Yearwood music to be played on the radio, since radio (unfortunately) symbolizes success to a lot of people. But if quality music can’t be synonymous with radio play, then I suppose she’s made the right choice in the end.

  37. BobNo Gravatar

    I have all Trisha’s albums. That’s my consolation to the fact that she has nothing new on radio. I can hear her anytime. My guess is that a lot of us wish chart success for artists who have provided us with so much listening pleasure. Maybe there’s an ego thing in there too. We want our tastes validated. I would like to see Trisha have an impact on top 40 country again. But because of her great voice, if she chose to make a pop, jazz or blues album I’d buy it immediately.

    Regarding Jasper County vs HHPL, I liked the latter by a long shot. To be honest, I quickly got tired of Georgia Rain. Outside of “Standing Out in a Crowd” and “Sweet Love”, the rest didn’t do much for me. I liked almost all the songs on HHPL.

  38. TomNo Gravatar

    …i couldn’t care less, whether an artist makes it into the charts or not, if it wasn’t for this inevitable correlation with air-play. timeless great music is unfortunately often played only within fringe-formats like “legends lunch” on the station i mostly listen to. then again, trisha yearwood gets played there. “legends” – actually, not the worst company to hang out with.

  39. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    Bob, I think you’re definitely on to something about part of why we want to hear our favorite artists on the radio is because we want our tastes validated.

  40. Cory DeSteinNo Gravatar

    Trisha dominated the country charts very steadily from 1991-2001 not too shabby, she is not going to search for radio friendly tunes and make a album out of hopeful hits such as Reba. She is going to find a dozen or so of the best possible songs she can find and make the best possible album she can make. Its a recipe that has never failed. If radio picks up on it, great. If radio dosent pick up on it, oh well. The quality is still there. I just wish she would release music more frequently.

    Zack- I could never figure out why on earth they played She’s In Love with the Boy at the 1998 ACMs…I can understand not wanting to play How Do I Live, due to the whole LeAnn thing, but why not Perfect Love, or Everybody Knows….something current?

    By the way I am the poster of 2 of the 3 youtube videos up there :) the Try Me Again, and the ACM…more to come

  41. Erik NorthNo Gravatar

    I wholeheartedly agree with you, Cory. She puts together the dozen or so songs that she feels are right for her into an album. Not only is it a recipe that’s never failed for her, but, like I’ve said, it is also how her own heroes Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris have built their careers–based on whole albums, and not only radio singles. She seems to be an album artist now; whatever “hits” get generated from those albums is a big bonus for her (IMHO).

  42. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar

    Regarding Trisha and radio airplay, it might be worth noting that her reputation as a great artist came from her albums, not necessarily her radio singles. She was able to get big airplay for a couple of gems, like “Song Remembers When” and “Wrong Side of Memphis”, but most of her big hits were either uptempo songs without much depth, or power ballads.

    I don’t think she’s gone to radio with a song that fits either of those categories very well from her last four albums, with the big exception being the power ballad “I Would’ve Loved You Anyway” – her only top ten hit this decade.

  43. Cory DeSteinNo Gravatar

    I really thought that “Georgia Rain” had what it took to be top 10…almost was, but I expected more. I do often find it very impressive she made huge hits out of the slower songs such as “Walkaway Joe” and “Woman Before Me” and a song I felt should have been a bigger hit was “Real Live Woman” great song but just based off the audience it was aimed towards.

    The most puzzling thing I have found this decade was the songs chosen as singles? Does anyone doubt “Gimme The Good Stuff”(Jasper County) “Nothin About Memphis”(HHPOL) or even if they pushed and made a video for “They Call It Falling For A Reason”(HHPOL) would have had potential to be bigger hits. I would not have released the title track even though it was a top 20 hit, let alone release it as a lead off single. Not that its a bad song, or she did bad on it, it just wasnt memorable or attention grabbing to push a album.

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