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Terri Clark Finds Her "Big, Big Ballad" For New Album
By Crystal Caviness: CMA Close Up News Service
Photographer: Andrew Southam

Just know, if it's Terri Clark, expect the unexpected.

The 36-year-old Country entertainer, who built a career by doing things her own way, including donning a hat and boots and belting out women's anthems such as "I Wanna Do It All," "Girls Lie Too" and "I Just Wanna Be Mad," no doubt has caught some fans and the industry off guard with her new album and its first single "She Didn't Have Time."

The single, an uncharacteristic ballad from Clark, was one of the final songs added to her album, Life Goes On, due out Nov. 1. 

In fact, without delays caused by major staff changes at her label, Mercury Nashville, "She Didn't Have Time," written by Pat Bunch and Nicole Witt, may not have been on the album at all.  With 12 songs recorded on an album tentatively titled Honky Tonk Songs, the process stopped, halting release for months. While the project was on hold, Clark's camp found "She Didn't Have Time."

"I've really been looking for that ballad that can be an anthem for women with the same kind of depth as a big, big ballad, but with the same kind of message as my tempo songs have been for me," Clark said.

The song is reminiscent of a Reba McEntire story-single, telling the tale of a single mother putting her young daughter's life before her own. Ironically, Clark, who has spoken for years about her admiration for McEntire, found herself in a tug-of-war of sorts with the veteran entertainer over "She Didn't Have Time."

"The night before we were going to cut 'She Didn't Have Time,' my producer said 'Reba has this song on hold.' The next thing you know, the phone rings and it's Reba."

They chatted for a minute.

"Ten minutes later she called me back and said I could have this song," Clark said. "It was really nice of her."

McEntire's gift is significant to Clark for another reason.

"Reba is one of those artists who didn't come into her own and become a mass appeal artist until she was at least 10 years into her career," Clark said. "That's where I'm at now."

Last year was a milestone year for Clark, with the release of her first greatest hits collection and induction as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. With a new album on the brink of release and a ballad climbing the charts, Clark anticipates even bigger events for the future.

"Women don't generally get to go play stadiums, but I never give up the hope," she said. "I'm very ambitious and very competitive," she said, adding that she's satisfied with the growth of her career as long as she can feel she's gaining momentum.

To keep her career moving forward, Clark realized, it was time to shake things up a bit with the new album, produced by Byron Gallimore, featuring three songs written by Clark: "Slow News Day," "Everybody's Gotta Go Sometime" and "Tear It all Down."

"This is my sixth studio album. I've got to find something that I haven't said five times before and yet not alienate my audience," she said.

Clark's goal to offer something new in her music coincided with a major life change. Clark and her road manager, Greg Kaczor, were married Sept. 17 in the Canadian Rockies.

"There's a natural evolution in your music when your personal life is changing," she said. "I'm reflecting a little more of a grown-up vibe."

Clark, however, has not totally departed from the high-energy, sassy music that has made her one of the most popular live entertainers in Country Music.

"Honky Tonk Song," written by Kent Blazy and Leslie Satcher and "Damn Right (I'm Gonna Miss You)," written by Julian Gallagher and Craig Wiseman, are among the new songs on Life Goes On that have Clark's signature energy from the first beat.

While changes abound in Clark's life, the one constant in her career has been Luke Lewis, who signed the Canadian singer/songwriter to Mercury Nashville in 1994, and who is quick to praise one of his label's top hitmakers - with three of her six albums reaching Platinum.

"Terri has made a distinct mark on the Country landscape. She has never been one to give in to conformity, and that works for her. It's gotten her to the height she is today and will continue to make her stand apart from the rest," said Lewis, Co-Chairman, Universal Music Group Nashville, a title he shares with James Stroud, who was on board for the final revisions to Clark's album.

"Making the decision to sign Terri to Mercury was a no-brainer," Lewis said. "She's tough competition - a talented writer, performer and unique voice. And headstrong for what she believes in. Terri was adamant about her image when others in Nashville weren't so sure that's what women should be, but she's stood by that and now it's what she's known for. When I met Terri I knew she was a good fit and even today, seven albums later she continues to raise the bar with her creativity and position in the marketplace." 

On the Web: www.terriclark.com

2005 CMA Close Up News Service / Country Music Association, Inc.

 

 

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