FEBRUARY 2, 2018
By nearly every metric, Tracy Lawrence is a mega-watt success story. Thirteen million albums sold, eighteen No.1 singles and twenty-two songs on the Billboard Top 10 charts, multiple CMA and ACM awards and even a Grammy nomination. Yes, the small town Arkansas-bred teenager who arrived in Nashville nearly three decades ago, with a guitar and $700 in his pocket, has done himself proud. Don’t remind him though, because despite it all, the “Sticks and Stones” icon has always felt it important to maintain a steadfast workmanlike approach to and sheer reverence for his craft.“I still see myself as that kid that came to town and idolized Merle Haggard and George Strait,” Lawrence, who is currently in the studio working on a new album on November 10th, says with a sense of wonder in his voice. “If you’re a lawyer you put your suit on every day and you go to work. I go to work. I put my uniform on and I go do my job. I’ve been blessed.”In recent years, however, the scope and diversity of Lawrence’s job has evolved in thrilling ways. Just over two years since it first launched in January 2015, the country icon’s syndicated country-music radio show, “Honky Tonkin’ With Tracy Lawrence,” has fast become one the genre’s most cherished. Lawrence, who earlier this year was nominated for National On-Air Personality of the Year at the Academy of Country Music Radio Awards in Las Vegas, says the three-hour weekly program (syndicated in over 80 markets) was born out of his sensing a lack of attention being paid to country music of the 80s, 90s and early-2000s. “I just felt there was such a void in the market because there really wasn’t anybody focusing on the music from my era,” he explains. “The industry had missed the fact that so many people — and not just the people that had grown up with us, but their kids and younger people too — are getting into it now.” “I’ve been able to get things out of some of these interviews that maybe other people haven’t been able to do before,” he says of revealing chats with everyone from Reba McEntire to John Anderson to Sammy Kershaw and Ronnie McDowell. “It’s got a comfort to it that people enjoy.”This innate ability to connect with his guests, not to mention his ever-growing audience, is due in large part to Lawrence baring his soul when in the studio. He admits that during his legendary performances as a musician he’s in some ways inhabiting a character. “When I put my clothes on and my cowboy hat and walk out on that stage, I think I walk different and I carry myself different,” he offers. “I actually transcend into something else. It’s this persona I’ve created.” But when he’s hosting his radio show, he says, it’s one hundred percent Tracy. “When I leave the stage I take that person off,” he says. “I don’t carry him into the radio station with me.”
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