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An Interview with Tommy Overstreet
By CSO European Contributing Journalist, Christian Lamitschka.

CL: Would you please introduce yourself to the audience and tell us something about your history.

TO: My name is Tommy Overstreet. I've been in Country Music a long time, and have traveled to Europe a total of 32 times. For three years in the late 1970's and early 1980's I was voted the Number 2 Most Popular Touring Artist to Europe (Johnny Cash was voted Number 1). I've enjoyed 7 Number One Records in the united States, and 26 Top Ten records. I've recorded over 70 albums. I'm a Songwriter (over 500 songs) Publisher and Record Producer in addition to being a successful recording artist.

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?

TO: My music is made up of extremely good songs, written by some of the best writers in Country Music, and has "stood the test of time"...I believe the songs are as good today as they were when they were first released. I've specialized in Love Songs, the Good, The Bad, the Ups, the Downs...I believe if people hear my songs, they may not love the "voice", but they will Love the songs!

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

TO: My current CD is actually a package of three (3), titled "The Tommy Overstreet Collection"...I believe it's doing as well as can be expected in the music business climate we have at this time. The Internet has American record companies running a bit scared...they want to use it, but they don't want it "using them"!!! Until they can accurately figure out how to make the "profits" they want to make, it will be a while before we see the record business "boom" again!

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

TO: Afterf recording over 70 albums...I guess it was a "natural" to call it a "Collection"

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

TO: I write some and some I record from other writers. I have tried to always record the "best songs" available at the time I record...whether they are mine, or someone else's.

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

TO: My most successful song was titled "Heaven Is My Woman's Love"...I knew when I first heard it that it was a hit...I had to "fight" my Producer at the time to allow it to come out when it did. He wanted to wait...but I knew if we did it would never come out as a single. So I went over his head and pushed the right buttons...it was Number one in the former trade magazines, Cashbox, Record World and The Gavin Report. It reached only number 2 in Billboard because I was on a label considered to be "independent"...DOT RECORDS. I recorded the song in German as well...My friends in Germany told me they wondered who recorded this song in German with a Texas accent?

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

TO: Now I have 100%. Before I would say I had about 40 to 50%.

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

TO: Basically it takes knowing the right people, being at the right place at the right time, finding the best song available to record, getting the best musicians to play on the session, sparing nothing in the way of cost to achieve your goal, and working extremely hard at your music. Prayer sure helps too.

CL: How much do your songs influence your audience?

TO: I feel women love my music, and their men love their women, so they like my songs. I believe people relate to me and my music very well.

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?

TO: I really TOed that in the answer above...it would take a week to fully discuss what effect it's now having, and will have in the future.

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

TO: My mentor was my Uncle Gene Austin...a super star of the late 1920's and 1930's. He sold over 87,000,000 million records. He wrote "When My Sugar Walks Down The Street", "How Come You Do Me Like You Do" and "Lonesome Road" (which was in the first Broadway musical of "Showboat"). He was very instrumental in teaching me how to sing, and what to sing.

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

TO: I'd rather not comment on today's music...I hold the record labels and producers responsible for what's going on in Country Music...they've taken the "identity" out of the records, and today you can't tell one singer from another...

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

TO: Clean house... get rid of the Lawyers (Attorney's) and Accountants (CPA's) who now run our "creative" business...they're not creative...it's not just the music industry, it's the movie industry and the television industry too> >

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

TO: I really enjoy performing, but I believe my true love is the recording. I love the creative process...I also love producing other artists too...but I love songwriting too...it's hard to say what I love best. But I believe it's the creative process...

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

TO: I started singing my mother says when I was born...I always wanted to be a singer. I can't remember ever wanting to be anything else. I worked hard, and took my work very seriously. I've never done drugs, never did a show when I was high on alcohol or any other substance. I no longer smoke, I quit 13 years ago. I love my wife, I don't cuss, and I believe strongly in God. I'm not saying any of the above got me into Country Music...but it sure has helped me "stay" in Country Music!

CL: Before you became a star, were your friends and family supportive or was it a struggle?

TO: My family was extremely supportive. They wanted for me what I wanted, and always tried to help me achieve it. Not through money, because we didn't have any, but through love and encouragement!

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

TO: It hasn't been exactly easy, but nothing worth having is easy! It has simply taken hard work and dedication...two things I'm not afraid to give!

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

TO: I suppose it's just the natural fact...everyone's different, and everyone does his or her music their own way...I suppose that's what really makes me different, is that I do my music "My" way...Johnny Cash did his music "his" way, Merle Haggard does his music "his" way...etc, etc.

CL: What's the best thing about being a star and what's the hardest thing?

TO: The best thing is knowing that people appreciate what you're doing, and how you do it. The hardest thing I suppose is the damage our business does to relationships because you're gone a great deal of the time.

CL: What's your greatest challenge been in the music business?

TO: Not to give in when I started out...and to continue today when people sometime imply that if you're over 28 years old "you're over the hill"...tell Willie Nelson that!

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

TO: The 32 tours of Europe (more than most any other artist), having performed at the great music Halles in Germany, and the United States and Canada. Being made "Honorary Chief of the Choctaw Indian Tribe, and the Chickasaw Tribe, and being made Country Music Ambassador for the Cherokee Indian Tribe"...and of course the 7 Number One records, and the 26 Top Ten Hits.

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

TO: ME!!! Always.

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

TO: I probably work too much. I love...and live music. On or off stage.

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

TO: I would only change things that I've done personally...my relationships, with my children and wife.

CL: What private hopes and desires do you have?

TO: I hope I can continue to sing for at least another 10 years as good as I'm singing now...and quit when I feel it's time...not when others tell me to!

CL: What's the biggest disappointment in your life been?

TO: A divorce, and the loss of my only son.

CL: Many European fans travel to Nashville for Fan Fair because of the opportunity to see so many of their favorite stars at the same time. Will you be participating and how will the fans be able to find you?

TO: No. I did over 10 Fan Fairs, and it has now changed too much for me to enjoy it.

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

TO: Always! I love Europe...I love the food and the people, and I try to see as much as I can.

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

TO: I'm supposed to be in Kassel, Germany at the "Country Rose Music Festival" May 1, 2004...at least that's what I'm told...we're still waiting on confirmation!

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 out about you on the internet?

TO: We're in the process of building a new web site...I'll let you know when it's done.

CL: What are your plans for the future and how can new fans keep informed about you?

TO: They may write me at Post Office Box 6801, Aloha, Oregon 97007-0801, USA. I'm finishing two new "Live" albums and a new "Country" album of songs I've written and or publish.

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

TO: Paying the ticket price and coming up after the show and telling me it was "worth the price"

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

TO: Look for me...I'll be back!

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

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