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An Interview with... 

Question: How would you describe the music you are playing to somebody that does not know you?

I am Wynonna and I am a recovering entertainer…that’s what I always say. My style is as vast as the many cultures of the world. I love, first and foremost, country and gospel music, but I also love R&B and soul music too. I was heavily influenced by Tammy Wynette, Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt, Loretta Lynn, Tina Turner…all of these women inspired me. I learned from them, from watching them and singing their music that I played over and over on my little record player. I also believe my musical abilities are a true gift from God. I never took a music lesson in my life, it just came naturally. My music is about the journey, about love and the human experience. When you are real in your music, people know it and they feel your authenticity. I want to make people stop and think and react and hopefully fall in love!

Question: How is your current CD doing?

I don’t really keep up with statistics and numbers like that. I used to only worry about the #1’s and all of the awards. But that was a long time ago. I’m having more fun than ever! I have always loved the process of making the music, reading the letters from the fans who get married to my music, have children to my music and play my music at their funerals. But now, that’s the only way I measure my success. If I can make a connection, one connection, to any one listener in the world, I consider that successful. This music on “What the World Needs Now is Love” was indeed a labor of love; it took me over three years to record all 14 tracks. The fans have responded more passionately than they ever have, and I am grateful for that. It was a #1 album but the real glory came from hearing the fans and how they really responded to it. 

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

It was a compromise with the label, actually. Every song on the new cd is about love! Love, love, love! I wanted to name the album after one of the singles on the cd, “It All Comes Down to Love.” That was perfect in my mind. However, the label wanted people to be reminded of the first big hit from the album, “What the World Needs.” They wanted to call the album that. To me, that just sounded too arrogant. Could you imagine, What the World Needs—Wynonna? That didn’t fit. I asked if we could please take the title of the song and add love into it…we compromised, which is a very beautiful thing, and ended up calling it “What the World Needs Now is Love.” That title perfectly fits!

Question: How much do you believe that the influence of a song has a meaning in the public mind?

Great question! The only way I know how to answer this is to tell a quick story about the last song on the album, “Rescue Me.” The young lady who wrote it was only 18. She had struggled with cancer most of her young life and wrote the song as an anthem about the love of God. It was sent to me, I recorded it and drove to her house a couple of hours away to play it for her. She sang with me, held my hand and died two days later listening to it. I have never had such a close connection, nor have I ever felt closer to God. The public needs to hear this anthem and remember her story. She was a fighter; she became stronger through this song and lives on forever. An amazing spirit, I will remember her always and know the public will never forget her. Her influence and sweetness live on forever!

Question: How has the Internet affected your popularity and CD sales ... has it hurt you?

I know that the internet has helped a new world audience find me. My website has over a million hits per week. I also get thousands of emails which I read and often respond to. It’s an easy way to get the message to the people! Digital downloading of music has affected us all in adverse ways. My brothers and sisters in the songwriting community of Nashville have been most affected. Those songwriters depend upon the revenue from those album sales. They are being unfairly punished by illegal downloading. I think we have finally found a way to fix the problem with these new great sites which require paying for the songs. Otherwise, it’s nothing short of stealing, to be honest. 

Question: What moments stand out in your memory as being highlights, accomplishments and achievements which you’re proud of?

I am most proud that I stayed true to the music of my soul. I would never want to be perceived as someone who “sold out” or wasn’t authentic with their gift. I always make music that is true to my spirit. That’s very important to me. Getting to have two careers, one with my mom (as The Judds) for a decade and then as a solo artist has been truly inspiring for me. I am proud that I am a good mother to my children, a good daughter to my mother, a good sister to my sis (Ashley Judd) and a good wife to my new husband. I am a child of God. These are my awards and accomplishments. These things mean most to me. The love of these people and of my fans mean more than any award or special accomplishment. I’ve traveled the globe for 20 years and it all does come to love. Without love in you life, you have nothing.

Question: What do you think about today’s Country Music as it stands today versus it’s roots and where do you see it going in the future?

I am a fan of today’s sound as long as we don’t get too slick, and yet I am very reverent of my roots. I was raised on Emmylou Harris, Asleep at the Wheel, Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton---all of these great influences! These are my heroes. We are losing our superstars like Johnny and June Carter Cash and that breaks my heart. Their music is so important and it lives on forever. But they would want us to continue to honor the traditions of the past while making music for today’s new fans. I think my music represents that. I worked with all of those greats from the past and the great new folks that are superstars today like Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. I love them all. There’s a place for all types of country music as long as there is honesty and realness and a real human experience for the fans. 

Question: Last year there was a real country music boom in Germany. The Dixie Chicks and Emmylou Harris played several concerts in Germany. Can your European fans look forward to seeing you in concert in the future?

Absolutely! I am going global, baby. I have a friend who lives in Germany—in Munich—Dirk Rohrbach. I met him at Fan Fair last year and he was very real and very honest with me. People in Germany are hungry for real music, something that speaks to the heart. That’s what my music is all about. I met Jeff Beck, one of the greatest guitar players EVER at a party at Sting’s house in 2002. I asked him to play on my record (“What the World Needs Now is Love”) and he agreed. We have a sort of duet thing going on with the Foreigner cover song, “I Want to Know What Love Is.” I will never forget that he really did a favor for me. We created a sound that signifies the start of a new era for me; I want to be doing this for 20 more years!

Question: Many music fans today get their information about an artist via the internet. Do you have your own website and exactly what information about yourself can one find on there?

I do, I was one of the first country artists to have and consistently maintain a website, at www.wynonna.com. We started it in 1997 as an annex of our fan club, but people started buying tickets and t-shirts and reading articles from around the world on the site. It evolved into something truly special. I am really proud that it keeps growing. I post special things in the bulletin boards for my fans and highlight my fans who have been by my side for this 20 year journey.

Question: Many European fans come to Nashville for Fan Fair because of the opportunity to see many of their favorite stars at once. How will you be participating and how can fans find you?

I will be performing at the Coliseum on Sunday night, June 13th. It’s my 20th year in the business so I’ve turned it up a notch. I really want to continue to make a connection to my fans, particularly my international fans. I love you all.

Question: What are your plans for 2004?

I’m going to be turning 40 this year and celebrating my 20th year in the music business. I am striving to be a healthier, happier child of God in this coming year. I have many milestones to celebrate so there will be many reasons to have joy this year. I hope to make it over to Europe this year or the next. I have not been since 2000 and it’s time. I have many fans in Europe who say it is only a matter of time! I hope so!

Question: Is there anything special you want to tell your fans at the end of this interview?

I have a very deep and wide relationship with my fans. They have supported me and lifted me up during the hard times. We cry together, laugh together, and have fun together. This is an extended family for me. I don’t take my fans’ love and dedication for granted. We have been through a lot and we made it! This is the year of the fan—I dedicated a song, “Your Day Will Come,” from the new album to my fans. And to the people who have yet to discover my music, I hope that I find you! To all the dreamers out there, don’t give up on your dreams. If I can do it, anyone can do it. 

From Europe:
Christian Lamitschka

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