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An Interview with Rustie Blue
By CSO European Contributing Journalist, Christian Lamitschka.

Rustie Blue is from Southeastern Ohio and grew up surrounded with her country music. Her mother just loved country music and had a big country record collection! Rustie Blue spent some time in Kentucky when she was a little girl; Her grandmother, Lila Jane Travis, was from Kentucky and related to Merle Travis. She's now released her third album, Chip Chip.

CL: Country Music has many new fans in Europe who may be learning about you for the first time. How would you describe the music you play to someone who's never seen or heard you before?

RB: Folks say that I cross some borders (or get pretty close sometimes) with what I sing. I am definitely country, but I think a lot of what I sing has a bluesy sound to it; The Country Legends Association has been real supportive to me. They were talking to my manager, Robert Keister, one day, and made the statement that no matter what I sing, it sounds country! I like to sing and record what I feel; I have to like the song! If I can't get into the song, the delivery of the song doesn't seem as believable. For me it's all about the song.

CL: What is your current CD and how is it doing?

RB: I've just completed production on my new album "Chip Chip," but it hasn't been released yet; however, the release date is set for October 12th,

CL: How did you find the title for the CD and what inspired you?

RB: Actually "Chip Chip" was the first single from my album; It was written by Whisperin' Bill Anderson and co-writer Melba Montgomery. It has been at radio for about 5 weeks (in the U.S. and overseas) and doing really well, thanks to the very supportive DJ's and fans! It's a great song; It's one of those tunes that get in your head. For those out there that haven't heard the duet yet, you can go on my website at http://www.rustieblue.com and "Chip Chip" will start playing.

CL: Do you write the songs yourself and if not, how do you go about finding songs for your albums?

RB: I've actually written several songs or I should say started several songs; Sometimes I come up with a really good Chorus or maybe I'll write a good first verse and can't find a good second verse to go with it; I did write the cut "Honky Tonkin' Diva" on the album. I usually write best when I'm at home and have some quiet time. As for the other songs, I just put the word out, that I'm looking for songs (country songs), though sometimes I get all kinds of songs, even rap, for some reason. This is my third album and I took much longer selecting songs for this one; I guess I was much more picky. Bill Anderson contributed 4 of the 15 songs on the album. 3 of the 4 songs that Bill sent were original, and never been cut by another artist. I'm really honored that Bill believes in me enough to send me great original songs! Also I got to know Becky Hobbs after recording her song, "Jones On The Jukebox" in 2002; It went to #1 on the E.C.M.A. Chart. We got to talking, and she's just a real nice person, but anyway, she sent me two songs for this album. I also have some tunes by Billy Yates and Rich Fagan. I'm just real excited about the album!

CL: What's your favorite song among all the songs you've recorded and what's the story behind it?

RB: My favorite song is "Chip Chip." I met Bill back in 2001 after opening two shows for him at the Millersport "Sweet Corn Festival" in Ohio. We had communication prior to that, but we had not actually met. He was real nice, and I had the opportunity to talk with him after the show. It was such a honor to set at the table beside him and sign autographs. Some time went by, and I emailed him and thanked him for everything and ask him if he would be interested in sending me some songs; I remember adding at the end of the email, p.s. I'm whispering so I hope you hear me. I went on to record two of his songs "On and On and On" and "I'm Not Going Til I'm Gone" on my last album "Enter At Your Own Risk." When I started looking for songs for my new album, I started thinking how nice it would be to have a duet on the album with Bill. I ask Bill if he would consider doing a duet with me, and he said he would consider it, and as they say the rest is history. We recorded "Chip Chip" at "Sony Studio" in Nashville and at the end of the day Bill invited my manager and I backstage at the Grand Ole Opry; I was just thrilled! What better way to end a great day of recording with Country Legend Whisperin' Bill Anderson, and then to go to the Opry; I have to say I was on cloud 9.

CL: How much creative control do you have over your music?

RB: At the moment; I control most of it. I normally choose my own songs. I do have other folks on my team that will help find songs for me, but I end up actually making the final choices.

CL: There's a lot of work that goes into a Number One hit ... what does it take to make it?

RB: I think, you first have to have the talent, but it's always about the song; You have to have that one great song, that everyone wants to hear and wants to have in their CD player! Of course you can have that song, but it has to be heard. You need the right promotion behind you and the song to get it out there and to be heard.

CL: How much do your songs influence your audience?

RB: I think it depends on where I'm performing. I can go up on stage with a set list and plan to sing certain songs, but I very Rawley can follow a set list because I think a lot of what I sing depends on what mood the audience is in. If I start going a direction that the audience doesn't respond to, then I change what I'm doing. I think, basically you have to feel the crowd out.

CL: The Internet is playing a bigger and bigger part in the world of music. Has the Internet hurt or helped you and how would you like to see it evolve?

RB: It has for sure helped me and my career. You can be in contact with many people from all over the world. The computer has just become a way of life now. With all of the on-line music websites, I definitely have more exposure!

CL: Who do you look up to musically and where do your musical roots come from?

RB: I of course, really respect and look up to Bill Anderson, which by the way he is a fabulous Entertainer as well as Singer/Songwriter, also other influences would be Dolly Parton. I think she is so witty and very funny too! Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Wynonna, and one of the new comers, Gretchen Wilson. Also love Martina!

CL: What do you think about today's Country Music versus its roots and where do you see it going in the future?

RB: I would like to see more traditional music being played on the radio, but I think that traditional country music is much more popular now than it was 3 or 4 years ago. Personally I don't have a problem with some of the new country, but all of the yelling, busy sounding type songs, I don't care for. I guess, I like to hear more originality too, (not everyone sounding the same).

CL: If you had the chance to change something about the music industry, what would it be?

RB: I don't think it should matter what you look like or how old or how young you are; I think if a song is great, and you are able to please the fans, that is what should matter. I know that some disagree, because, as we get more and more into the world of video's, some say that the music business is more visual than it was 20 years ago, but then I go back to, if your pleasing the fans, that is all that should matter. I think we miss out on a lot of good music because of image. Image is everything in music today!

CL: As an artist you have to do so many different things such as recording, touring, doing interviews etc. What do you like best, what's your favorite activity?

RB: My favorite thing is performing on stage! I could do that all of the time! A very close second, would be recording; There's just that special magic, when your in the studio, and the excitement of creating!

CL: How did you get into Country Music ... is there a story behind it?

RB: Well, actually I've been singing ever since I was about 8 years old, but not really going out and playing the clubs, fairs and festivals until later on. As I was growing up, I was surrounded by country music and so I just knew that it was something that I always wanted to do. I actually didn't start opening for folks such as, Aaron Tippin, Bill Anderson, The Honky Tonk Tailgate Party, which consists of Jeff Carson, Daryle Singletary and Rhett Akins, until 2001, that's when things starting getting busier for me.

CL: Has your journey to success been a hard or an easy road?

RB: I think for the most part that it has been hard. The Music Business definitely has it's ups and downs. What is the saying, for every door that opens, there's 12 that shuts; Something like that, but just to let you know, that statement is true. <smile> I work really hard and what I do, and I'm very determined. I think that an artist that is wanting to make it in the Music Business, not only needs the talent, but needs the determination; You can't give up. There are just to many very talented artists out there doing and wanting the same thing that you do. It takes a lot of hard work!

CL: What drives you? What inspired you to become an artist?

RB: First of all, if somebody tells me I can't, then I do or try to anyway. I'm driven very much by my fans! I have an overwhelming love for music!

CL: What does it take to be a Country Star?

RB: Talent, determination, stamina (the road gets pretty tough), it's a must is to take care of yourself. Which is actually the number one thing that you have to do, because if you don't take care of yourself, the rest isn't going to matter. I'm also always learning everyday something new about the music business, I would tell folks that want, or are just breaking into the music business. Learn all you can about the business; You really miss out on a lot in helping yourself succeed if you don't know what's available!

CL: What's unique about you that differentiates you from other artists?

RB: First, I don't try to sound like anyone else! I have many influences and some of them are transformed in my music. It would be best to ask my fans what is different about me. I'm just me!

CL: What has been your greatest challenge in music business?

RB: You have given me some of the most difficult questions that I have ever had in an interview! I guess, the hours of time that it takes to things. I always want to do things right and I know that good enough, really isn't good enough, things have to be really great!

CL: What moments in your career stand out in your memory as highlights and achievements which you're proud of?

RB: Now that one is easy! Having the opportunity to record with an Icon like Bill Anderson! I'm also very proud of my new album; I'm proud of my last two, but I feel I've grown a lot, as an artist in the last few years with touring so much!

CL: Who's your biggest critic, yourself or others?

RB: Myself. The longer that I'm in the music business, the more I expect of myself.

CL: When you get time off, how do you like to relax?

RB: A hot bubble bath! I have to admit too that I like to get lost in a good movie and eat popcorn! <smile>

CL: Is there anything in your life that you would change if you could?

RB: No not at the moment; I'm pretty happy to be able to be doing what I enjoy and to have the opportunity to do it full time. I use to work full time as a Nurse, but as my music expanded more and more, I realized that being a Nurse, and actually being an Artist both take 100%, I decided to put my nursing on hold.

CL: What private hopes and desires do you have?

RB: Not sure if this is a secret or not, but I would love to perform on the Grand Ole Opry someday! Hopefully, if that ever happens, I won't faint while on stage, then it be all over. Just kiddin'. <smile>

CL: What has been the biggest disappointment in your life?

RB: There have been disappointments and sad times. I feel the loss of my mother. She was much to young to die. She didn't even get to hear my first album. My mother was much of my Country Music inspiration. I miss her very much!

CL: When you're on tour, do you have time to play tourist?

RB: No, not normally. Although, I did get the chance to go shopping one day while I was in Germany, but so far I haven't had the time to really site see while on tour.

CL: Can your European fans look forward to seeing you in concert in the future?

RB: Yes, I will be touring in Europe in 2005 with my band "The Stallions." The dates haven't been confirmed yet, but they will be posted to my website as soon as I know. I really look forward to seeing some of the DJ's and the fans again, that I made while I was there. I really look forward to meeting new ones!

CL: Many music fans today get their information about artists via the internet. Do you have your own website and what information can the fans find about you on the Internet?

RB: Yes, they can find my second home at http://www.rustieblue.com and listen to some music samples from my new album "Chip Chip"! They can find out where it's available. They'll also find fan club info, bio, news updates, my touring schedule. I also have a few fan sites under the interaction section that I would love for them to visit! Every once in awhile I pop in and try to keep up with them that way. My website also has lots of photo's!

CL: What are your plans for the future?

RB: I hope to continue what I'm doing now, which is performing, but even more of it. It doesn't matter how bad of a day I'm having, when I hit that stage I just come alive! Stage is where I'm probably the most comfortable. I just got word that I'll be performing at the "Midnight Jamboree" with Bill Anderson in Nashville on November 20th. I'm really excited about that! I'm going to be heading to Norway in 2005 with my band "The Stalllions," which are a great bunch of guys! In addition to that, I have never been to Fan Fair yet so I have that on my list of things to do next year and possibly attend the CRS.

CL: What's the best compliment a fan has ever given you?

RB: When I was overseas, a fan came up to me and told me that they really enjoyed my show because I came down into the audience and danced with the crowd while was performing, and I didn't only stay on the stage. They felt that they could relate to me more because I got right down with the crowd.

CL: What's your favorite song that you didn't record and why?

RB: That's a tough one, because I have so many favorites! I would have to say my all time favorite song is "I Will Always Love You." by Dolly Parton. I'm thinking that it was a #1 hit 4 times. Twice for Dolly (once with Vince Gill). When Dolly sings it, it sounds so pure and beautiful! When I go out to perform, I usually like to pick some unexpected person from the audience to sing to. One night I invited a gentlemen up on stage to sing to him, the song "I Will Always Love You," but during singing the song , I started thinking that really it's more of a breaking up song. I don't actually sing it to anyone anymore, but still love singing the song, as a cover tune in my shows. I used to be really shy on stage, but I joined a show called "Center Stage Legends", and started doing a Dolly Parton Tribute. Every time I would go out and perform as Dolly, I was a big ham; To make a long story short, I got away from my shyness by doing tributes, because you could be someone else, but now I don't really do tributes anymore, I just like to go out an be myself. (It's much easier).

CL: What message would you like to send your European fans?

RB: I would like to thank you all so very much for listening to my music and coming to see me at my shows while I was in Europe in 2002! I can't thank you enough for the y support, because without you, I couldn't do what I love to do best, and that is sing! Thank you so much! Hope to meet many more of you during my tour next year!

Christian Lamitschka ( Ch.Lamitschka@t-online.de )

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