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Breakout specialist (Toby) Keith branches out
Palm Beach Post ^ | Friday, September 01, 2006 | Janis Fontaine

Posted on 08/31/2006 7:42:02 AM PDT by WestTexasWend

— Outspoken country star has own label, movie deal, integrity intact. —

Happy Toby Keith Appreciation Day!

Just a few weeks ago, the Greenacres Kiwanis Club named Toby Keith its Man of the Year and successfully lobbied the Palm Beach County Commission to proclaim Sept. 1 "Toby Keith Appreciation Day." They chose Keith because of the five trips he's made overseas to entertain the troops. They chose today to coincide with his concert tonight at Sound Advice Amphitheatre.

Keith called from Buffalo where he was a few shows into his 60-stop Ford Trucks-sponsored Hookin' Up & Hangin' Out Tour, a tour so big they need 13 buses and 12 semis to get the crowd and equipment around. On his USO tour in June, Keith flew by helicopter with a few band members, and made more than 50 stops in Iraq and Germany.

People assume Keith is a red-state devotee, but he's a lifelong Democrat who voted for Clinton twice. "Just because I support the troops doesn't mean that I support the war, and just because someone is antiwar, it doesn't mean they're anti-troops," he said. "I think it bothers some people that you'll speak your mind out and support the troops. I stand behind anything I say or do, but I get really offended when people slam the troops."

Keith's father was a Korean war veteran, and Keith, 45, says he considered joining the service after high school, but he grew up in the early '70s during the Vietnam War. "We had been scared by the draft," Keith says. "Everybody was saying, 'You're going to get drafted, you're going to get taken away.' It was scary. But I guarantee you my father would have kicked my head in if I'd been drafted and went to Canada. He'd have come and found me, it wouldn't have been up to the U.S. government."

Keith's outspoken attitude has made him "a lightning rod for controversy," and in 2002, he sparred with Dixie Chick Natalie Maines. He says she called his song, Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue, ignorant and she wore a T-shirt with a suggestive message at the ACM Awards Show in 2003. (Maines claimed it meant Friends United in Truth and Kindness. Yeah, right.)

"I still see my name pop up on the radar with them and I'm not going to get in there," Keith said. "I don't have to. I've said what I need to say on that and I don't need to rehash anything. That's been years ago and I never even think about it. I've made three or four albums since then and I've moved on."

After selling more than 30 million albums, Keith's popularity continues to grow. His latest album, White Trash with Money, sold nearly 330,000 copies in the first week, and has been certified platinum. The first two singles topped the charts: Get Drunk and Be Somebody peaked at No. 3 and A Little Too Late peaked at No. 2. The success of the album is even sweeter, Keith says, because it was released on his own label, Show Dog Nashville.

Keith's contentious relationships with his record labels is Nashville legend. "They wouldn't let me be me," Keith says. "I can't tell you how many times I heard 'Cut your hair' and 'Dress like Vince Gill.' They wanted to create this squeaky-clean Nashville-accepted type thing, but that wasn't me."

When Keith turned in his fifth album to Mercury in 1999, the record company didn't like it. But Keith wasn't willing to compromise. "I never got anything in my life that I wasn't willing to walk away from. If you want the best deal, you have to be willing to walk away." So, true to his word, Keith walked. And they let him take the album with him.

That album was How Do You Like Me Now?!, which was released by DreamWorks in 1999. "We sold three-and-a-half million of those albums and it launched my career."

Over the next five years, Keith recorded four more very successful albums on the DreamWorks Nashville label. But DreamWorks merged with Universal Music Group Nashville in May 2004, and Universal also owned Mercury, his former label. Keith was still itching to make his own way. He called a meeting with the studio executives and says, "I told them, 'I've been in this business for 12 years and I don't have anything left to accomplish in the music industry but longevity. We've got 30 million albums sold, and we've won every songwriting award there is. I've got a lot of people calling me to do movies and sit-coms. I'm not happy here and I'm either going to go do my own thing or I'm going to retire.' And they said. 'Yeah, whatever.'

"So I turned in my next to last album, and they said it's time to renegotiate and I said no. I'm going to retire and I'm going to open my own label. I just might not be able to record on it because I still owe y'all an album, and you're welcome to hold my feet to the fire on it, but I need a response by the end of the week. We worked something out."

Keith has creative control and control of the artist's roster at Show Dog Nashville and he joked that he already made a great management decision: He signed Toby Keith. And he made another big decision when he agreed to make his acting debut in Broken Bridges, the story of a down-and-out country singer. Not much of a stretch, but we'll also get to see if the big dog can act. Plus Keith signed his writing partner Scotty Emerick, his Broken Bridges costar Lindsey Haun, and the duo he brought on tour, Rushlow Harris, to Show Dog. Can you say cross-promotion?

We know Keith can write and play music. Now we'll get to see what else he can do.

Toby Keith...

On the importance of education: "I wanted to go to college and we couldn't afford it. My dad wanted to do better for us and he tried and just couldn't. I push education every day. I do everything I can to read and course up on things. I have a thirst for knowledge and I'm not going to let (my kids) sit around and be rich kids. It's stupid for me to create this empire to be as financially sound as we are and to have kids who don't want an education."

On his new single and video costar blond vixen Heather Locklear: "We'd been talking about getting her on a video for a couple years and Crash Here Tonight was perfect for her. She's been going through a tough time so we thought it was good timing. Most of my videos have a huge treatment where I'm animated and in your face, and we're doing something funny and big and colorful, and this one is just a slow love ballad about two people who are wanting to go faster than their hearts will allow. And there's really no script other than lighting a candle and sharing a glass of wine, so who was in it was more important than what the script was about." Keith says the song may be the most tender love song he's ever recorded.

On those two country music staples: drinking and cheating: If you don't want to hear about drinking and cheating, don't turn on country radio, Keith says. "You'll never be able to listen to classic country, and old school country is catching on fire right now. Four out of five songs are about drinking or cheating. But nobody drinks or cheats anymore," he says, sarcastically. "In the real world, you can't go anywhere that you can't buy a drink and you can't go anywhere that you don't see somebody cheating. But you're not allowed to talk about it. It's politically incorrect to tell the truth."

On writing partner Scotty Emerick: "There's three guys on my bus: me and my assistant and Scotty, so when a song gets written on this bus, he's here. He's a great songwriter, and he plays a really unique gut-string style that I don't play. So when something's up-tempo and rocking, I might bring that groove to the table but Scotty brings something tender or something chicken-pickin'. Scott puts these funky grooves and it'll come with a great title too. We've got a song on this album, '(All the Happiness in the World) Can't Buy You Money' that he brought to me."

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Politics/Elections; US: Florida
KEYWORDS: countrymusic; generalchat; tobykeith
Note the early release on this piece. "Today" is actually 'tomorrow' - September 1st, if you plan to go.

TOBY KEITH — With Joe Nichols, Rushlow Harris and Lindsey Haun. 7:30 p.m. today, gates open at 6 p.m., Sound Advice Amphitheatre, suburban West Palm Beach. Tickets: $36.75-$70.75. Phone: (561) 966-3309.

1 posted on 08/31/2006 7:42:03 AM PDT by WestTexasWend
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To: WestTexasWend

This really suprises me. I had no idea he was a Democrat.

2 posted on 08/31/2006 8:57:26 AM PDT by excalibur1701
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To: excalibur1701

I didn't like him anyway.

3 posted on 08/31/2006 9:11:53 AM PDT by bicyclerepair (
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To: excalibur1701

"This really suprises me. I had no idea he was a Democrat"

And that's the beauty of it all, Toby just shuts up and sings. He's smart enough to know that most people don't want to know what celebrities politics are. I don't care untill they start running their mouths.

So what if Toby Kieth is a Democrat, he has never tried to push his politics on anyone, and I can live with that.

4 posted on 08/31/2006 9:23:06 AM PDT by sean327 (God created all men equal, then some become Marines!)
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To: WestTexasWend

I appreciate his support for the troops, but his vibrato sounds like a goat singing through a box fan.

5 posted on 08/31/2006 9:32:20 AM PDT by manic4organic
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To: WestTexasWend

I saw an interview with Dan Blather. Toby said he is not a registered Repbulican or Democrat. But anway who cares He rocks. I saw him in Raleigh last year. One thing he is not is LIBERAL. Which is all I care about.

6 posted on 12/30/2006 8:45:20 AM PST by JackDanielsOldNo7 (On guard until the seal is broken)
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