BlackHawk Six Pack

BlackHawkA group of veteran industry songwriters and performers came together as BlackHawk, and were quickly signed to Arista Nashville, a label that had already had success with Exile and Diamond Rio. Their debut album was a smash, selling double-platinum and spawning five hits.

The band wasn’t able to match that success with future projects, despite scoring a handful of hits from their next three albums. Their sophomore set managed to sell gold on the strength of lead single “I’m Not Strong Enough to Say No”, but future projects would miss that mark. The act also left a bad taste in the mouth among some industry members when they publicly complained that less successful acts were winning Vocal Group over them, a blatant reference to The Mavericks.

Still, they produced some great songs that any casual fan of nineties country will be familiar with.

“Goodbye Says it All”
from the 1994 album BlackHawk

Their debut single demonstrated their ease at crafting hooks tailor-made for country radio.

“Every Once in a While”
from the 1994 album BlackHawk

One of their best sounding records, featuring a particularly effective mandolin-laced intro.

“I Sure Can Smell the Rain”
from the 1994 album BlackHawk

An interesting record that foreshadows the impending doom of a relationship that’s about to end.

“That’s Just About Right”
from the 1994 album BlackHawk

There wasn’t a more quirky or more philosophical song on the radio in the spring of 1995.

“I’m Not Strong Enough To Say No”
from the 1995 album Strong Enough

Robert John “Mutt” Lange co-wrote this catchy plea for temptation not to call.

“Postmarked Birmingham”
from the 1997 album Love & Gravity

Their first stab at a pure story song was a successful one, crafting a mystery that pays off well in the end.


  1. I actually think BlackHawk was one of the better bands of the 90s. Maybe not quite as good as Diamond Rio, but pretty great nonetheless. I like all six of the song in this pack but also feel bad neglecting “Down In Flames”, “Like There Ain’t No Yesterday” and “Almost a Memory Now”. Throw in “Ships of Heaven” as a hidden treasure and you would almost have a complete starter kit. Problem is, there isn’t much more worth exploring after that. When I listen to their Greatest Hits CD I usually have to turn it off after 10 or 12 songs because they all start to sound the same.

  2. If you think Blackhawk’s version of “That’s Just About Right” is good you need to seek out Jeff Black, the songwriter’s version. It has a 3rd verse not on the Backhawk version and despite being more ‘alt-country’ it’s very, very good, particularly his vocal.

  3. I liked just about everything from their first albums. Their other albums had some good stuff, but not as good as their debut. I’ve always liked their harmonies, but they didn’t sound the same after Van Stevenson died, because he added a unique sound to the harmonies. I second Michael’s endorsement of “Ships of Heaven”, which was written by Van before his death from Cancer. I’m glad he was able to sing on it too. Not to be morbid, but another “hidden treasure” is “Spirit Dancer”, a song that the other members wrote for Van after he died.

  4. I was a fan of Henry Paul’s vocals when he was a member of the Southern Rock group The Outlaws, so of course I enjoyed Blackhawk’s sound as well.

    Didn’t know too much about the group beyond that, and their greatest hits album, which I think I still have somewhere on cassette.

    Really enjoying these Nineties features, keep ’em coming!

  5. Another great band with a unique sound. I like their debut best, too. It’s a great album to listen to on the road. My favorite song, however, is “I’m Not Strong Enough To Say No.” The 1998 album, The Sky’s The Limit, has a number of good songs as well, like “Your Own Little Corner Of My Heart” and “Nobody Knows What To Say.” I remember being shocked when I suddenly heard of Van Stephenson’s passing. It was around the same time I began collecting their albums.

  6. These guys were hitting it really hard when they first came out. I remember one hit after another for a period of about 4 years, then they just kinda disappeared. Glad to see you included ‘Postmarked Birmingham’, I never heard that one during its chart run, but it was on their Greatest Hits disc and I fell in love with the song then.

  7. I never really did get excited about this group. I have several of their albums but it must be ten years since I went back and listened to any of their music.

    Other bands such as Shenandoah and Diamond Rio had better lead vocalists and/or more interesting songs.

  8. I would add “Always Have, Always Will” from their 1998 album “The Sky’s The Limit” to this list as well. Great harmonies on the chorus.

  9. Oh yeah, that’s a very nice song. I think I remember that Dave Robbins’ wife (he sang the lead on that one) said something about how he’d written so many songs, but never one for her. So, he wrote “Always Have, Always Will” as a result of that conversation.:) He has a very nice voice, though Henry Paul’s is admittedly more distinctive/unique.

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