News: Terri Clark Returns to Her Roots

Reba McEntire isn’t the only country star recharging her creative batteries with a career change this month. In an announcement on her website last week, Terri Clark informed her fan club that she would be exiting BNA Records and concentrating her efforts on international markets, specifically her native Canada.

Clark said,

As you all know, I have been struggling over the past couple of years at trying to find and write songs to finish an album for BNA records. Over the course of the past few years, the record business, and radio has changed dramatically. I recently came to the conclusion that I no longer feel as though I can creatively “fit” into a certain “box” or model, and have come to a very difficult crossroads in making the decision to part ways with my record label, and forge ahead independently.

Terri Clark’s first top ten single, “Better Things to Do,” was released in 1995, the same year that fellow Canadian import Shania Twain exploded onto the mainstream scene. The pair represented the diversity of the genre, with Twain implementing a number of rock and roll and pop elements to make an ultimately universal brand of pop-country, and Clark rarely straying from the modern country style that first attracted her to Nashville.  At first, this diversity meant that both artists could thrive, and Clark excelled at rowdy rockers and even scored hits with more thoughtful material such as “Now That I’ve Found You” and “If I Were You.”  A rare female hat act, Clark weathered the constant shifts of contemporary music better than most of her contemporaries.

After a creatively rich, yet commercially unsuccessful stretch in the early part of the decade, she experienced a resurgence in 2003 with the release of Pain to Kill. Nominations for the female vocalist prizes from both the ACM and the CMA followed, and the two organizations acknowledged her again in 2004, the year that she issued her gold-selling greatest hits package.

But efforts to maintain her radio popularity amidst industry changes remain futile, despite her move to Joe Galante-led BNA Records in 2006. Clark attempted two ditties that seemed desperate attempts to meet the desires of the radio audience, “Dirty Girl” and “In My Next Life.” Clark’s decision, while certainly born out of personal desires, will result in a sad (and seemingly permanent) absence from mainstream country radio.

Ultimately, her Nashville career will be considered a success, with ten Top Ten country singles and sales of almost five million copies in the United States, but unfinished business (most notably a CMA award, an honor that she’d coveted since childhood) means that the story seems incomplete. Her music, at its best, was a welcome antithesis to the pop-country pervading the radio dial. The smarts, sassy attitude and intelligence (often marked by a wicked sense of humor) she brought to the table will continue to reap benefits as she starts a new chapter in her career and in life.


  1. Don’t be surprised if she doesn’t find herself a smart indie label in Nashville to work with or at least distribute her stuff and I still wouldn’t be surprised if she can’t have another hit on the charts through that way.

  2. Terri’s my favorite and I’m hoping that this desicion will be a good one for her, but I don’t think she’ll get back much radio support. She did say she would focus her attention in Canada which could benefit me but’ll leave out all her U.S. fans…

    I don’t see why BNA didn’t release My Next Life back when “In My Next Life” was charting since they released Sarah Johns’ album despite her charting lower, and not having a built in fanbase…that’s one of the reason’s I dislike nashville labels…(Big Machine did something similar with Dusty Drake and Jimmy Wayne)

    Also just to edit the post “She Didn’t Have Time” was made while she was still with Mercury.

  3. Wait, I’m confused. Is she still making music, but she’s just not interested in the US mainstream country market?

    If so, I’m happy because then she’ll make more stellar albums like Fearless.

  4. This announcement stands in stark contrast to Reba’s news. McEntire, one of the greatest superstars ever in the genre, is in her mid-50s. Yet, she must believe that she can meet the current market demands and be a force at country radio.

    On the other hand, Clark, who just turned 40, apparently feels that making music to suit the mainstream audience is a futile exercise. Although I’m disappointed that artists such as Tillis, Yearwood and Loveless fell out of favor on country radio, I feel their careers were ultimately fulfilled. After significant commercial success, they have navigated the indie route

    The shelf life of female artists is now so much shorter. Singers like Deana Carter, Chely Wright and Clark, at different stages of the game, have all run into too much resistance and fled the “Nashville scene.” All three deserved a warmer reception from the industry, in my opinion. While their creative muses seem satisfied, these shortcomings are disappointing.

  5. I am just happy that she is going to continue to make music and all I want to know is where i can buy the albums she is going to release in Canada — because the new music that heard in August was amazing.

  6. This is really sad news to me. It feels like country music is losing one of its greatest performers. And I think that if she decides to focus more on Canadian radio success (which she always had better luck at than U.S. radio), then she will ultimately stop touring the U.S. too.

    I hope Matt B. is right and she finds a Nashville label to release more music here in the States. But if not, we’ll miss you, Terri.

  7. I too hope this means she gets to make the music she wants to make. I know I love Chely more now than during her mainstream days. I do wish they could garner some radio play though…

    So what is the Reba news? I’m a huge fan and somehow I missed that bit of info…now y’all have got me nervous.

  8. Terri was the first artist I absolutley fell in love with back in the 90’s. I loved her debut album and I still listen to it quite often! I’m sad that she’ll be focusing more on Canadian radio than here in the states but I do hope we’ll be able to get her music online.

  9. Update: As you can see it was worth the move and the wait. In my opinion, “The Long Way Home” is the best so far in Terri’s career. If you can’t see her in the US in 2010, start sending in now for your passports, to see her in Canada. It will be worth the trip. I know from experience. Hang in…she’s just gettin warmed up.

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