10 Questions with ... Trisha Yearwood
May 2, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Trisha Yearwood is an award-winning solo artist, author, actress, and television hostess. She began her rise to stardom in 1991 when her debut Country single, "She's In Love With The Boy," topped the charts. Since then, she has charted twenty top-ten hits on the Country charts, including eight number ones. When her husband, Garth Brooks, decided to retire from music to raise a family, Yearwood also slowed down her recording career but chose to add work in additional media platforms. She is now the author of three best-selling cookbooks and the hostess of the Emmy Award-winning "Trisha's Southern Kitchen" on Food Network. She recently released her own line of home furnishings and décor and is now back out on the road with Brooks, selling out arenas in their nationwide "Garth Brooks World Tour With Trisha Yearwood." On top of these successes, Yearwood recently decided to take on the challenging role of Mary, mother of Jesus, on FOX-TV's "The Passion: Live." As part of the live television event, Yearwood cut five songs for the show's soundtrack, one of which is a rendition of the 2008 Lifehouse single, "Broken." That single has now charted in the Top 20 on AC radio. Yearwood recently took time out of her busy schedule to discuss the making of the song and how it all has woven into another success story for this proven hit maker.
1. Trisha, thank you for taking time to talk to All Access today. We know you've recently performed in "The Passion: Live," and your current single, "Broken," is from that soundtrack. Why did you elect to take on such a daunting project in the middle of everything else you have going on currently?
Most of the things that have happened in my career that have been the most successful and the most fun have been accidents. I'd love to say, "Well, I had this great plan..." But really, I've just tried to choose things that I thought I would enjoy.
2. How was "The Passion: Live" project different from other albums you've worked on, both as a solo artist and as someone who has been involved with soundtracks before?
It's funny how you can make an album, and you can second guess every song, you can worry about if it's going to get played on the radio, and there's so many things you can't control, that you have anxiety about. And the cool thing about this project is, I never had any of those thoughts. It originally wasn't even going to be a soundtrack; it was just a live performance.
3. Who did you work with on the project, and how did you originally get involved with the productions?
Who approached me was Alex Anders and his brother Adam, who does all of the "Glee" stuff. And they set up a call, and Adam said, "I think there's a handful of people who can do this role, and I just believe that you can do this." And it was probably ego, because I was like, "Wow, he thinks I'm really cool! Okay!" I just thought, this will be a really cool opportunity to do something different. And then, it was a couple of days later that I thought, "You just agreed to be the mother of Jesus! You've lost your mind!" I was like, "What was I thinking?"
4. You are well known in the Country format, having put out multiple albums over the past 25 years and topping the charts there repeatedly. But the songs on this project are not Country. Were you at all concerned about taking on something outside of your format?
I was nervous about the songs, because I like a lot of different kinds of music, and my music is not traditional Country, I'm more contemporary Country - or at least I used to be. But still, this is not my comfort zone; this is not my wheel house. So I wanted to be able to do those songs well.
5. Can you tell us a little bit about the song selection and the recording process for this album, including the single, "Broken," and what it was like putting the project together?
These guys were like, "We're going to do different arrangements so they're really tailored to you, and we know your range. We'd like you to let us pick the keys," which I never let anyone else do, "but you can always change the keys if you don't like them. But give us a shot. This is different for you. Give us the reins a little bit." So, I said okay. I did five songs, and they sent me the tracks they had worked on, and they all ended up in the stratosphere! And they were like, "Well, we know you can hit these notes." And I said, "Yeah, I can hit them, but I'm not sure I should hit them in every song!" Then, they decided they wanted everyone to make a soundtrack, which I thought was a great idea, because there's such a variety of artists. And I love all the song choices; I thought they all worked really well. So, I went in the studio to record them, and it was really hard. We worked in Nashville and worked with Alex, who is Adam's brother, and he really pushed me. There were times when I wanted to change those keys. He said, "If you'll just trust us, we can always change this later. But, I think you can do more than you think you can." And I was so proud of the way the songs came out - but they were up there. Then, I got really nervous about singing them live. Always in the back of my mind, I'm like, "Well, it's live. I can change the keys. I can change the keys." But as it got closer and closer, I thought, "I'm just going to try to go for it." And I loved how it came out.
6. "Broken" was originally release by Lifehouse in 2008. Your arrangement of the song is a fresh take on it, but were you at all familiar with the original version before going in to cut it?
I wasn't. I was familiar with Lifehouse. I know the band, and I had heard a song of theirs - probably ten years ago - called "You And Me," and it's one of my all-time favorite songs. I love them. I love their sound; I love the lead singer's voice. When I heard "Broken," I was like, "Oh yeah!" But it wasn't ... "Oh, yes, I know this song very well." But I lived with their version - which is amazing - and I am a fan. I love the way they approach their music because it's very secular and Pop. And this song, in particular, I think was written about the guy's friend who was ill. It was written about a relationship with his best buddy. But it translated so well - as all the songs did, I think - for "The Passion." And Lifehouse is great about that, because they're - if you want to find something spiritual in their music, you can. But they don't really wear it on their sleeve, it's more subtle, and I like that.
7. How did "Broken" get selected from the project to become a single targeted at AC radio?
The first thing that came up was word "focus track." And I'm like, "I don't even know what that means." And they said, "Well, basically, this is the song that people are talking about, so we're going to use it to promote the show. It's not going to be a single, but it's just the song that we'll use in the advertising." And I'm like, "That's awesome!" I was really excited about that. And then, the response was so big that they said, "Christian radio is already playing it. We'd like to release it as a single and send it to AC." And I said okay. The wonderful thing is that it all just happened so naturally that it just made sense.
8. This isn't your first time landing on AC radio, though. You've found success there before. As of this writing, "Broken" has now charted in the Top 20 on the AC charts. How has this experience been different from past AC radio releases for you?
I've had accidental success on AC radio a couple of other times, where we didn't send songs there, but they got played. So to me, this is just cool. It's a cool thing that happened that I didn't plan, so I'm really enjoying it.
9. You're currently on the road with your husband, Garth Brooks, touring cities all across the country and playing to sold-out arenas. Have you started to work "Broken" in to the set list? What has the audience reaction been like thus far?
When we got back out on the road after "The Passion" aired, people started bringing signs for that song. I never intended to sing it live, but here we go! So if somebody brings a sign, I sing it. We just did it in Columbus. It's a powerful song, and it's a really cool moment in the show to me. Usually I come out, and I hit the highlights - "She's In Love With The Boy" and "XXXs and OOOs," and "How Do I Live." But if somebody brings a sign, I do it. And it's really interesting to see the response. I think that song really is just powerful.
10. Speaking of being on the road, you're juggling quite a hefty schedule these days! You are on the sold-out "Garth Brooks World Tour With Trisha Yearwood," plus you have an award-winning cooking show on Food Network, three best-selling cookbooks, and a line of furniture and home interiors now. Your day planner must be overflowing! How are you keeping up with everything?
I don't even write it down anymore! It's interesting, you know. I'm 51 years old - which, I still feel 12 in my brain, but don't we all? But I'm at an age where I don't take on anything that I don't think I'll enjoy. So the cooking show, again, was a happy accident that came out of something that I really, genuinely love to do. Never dreaming that after the first cookbook (which I really did with my mom and my sister for fun) I never dreamed it would be a New York Times bestseller. I never dreamed we'd be three books in now, and that it would lead to a show that is doing really well. But it's fun! It came out of something that is genuine and real, so I try - it's easier, as you get older - to realize that life is short and you really shouldn't do anything that doesn't make your life better. And busy is good. Garth and I both are not that great (I'm probably better at it than Garth is) but neither one of us is like, "Let's just sit around and do nothing," even when we're home and have a day off. Now, I can sit with a book and a cup of coffee, but he's on a tractor or something. He just isn't an idle guy. So it's good; it's doable.
This particular tour is (we're about halfway through a three-year tour) is really crazy busy. Garth doesn't do anything half way. So we're definitely - the only challenge is trying to fit in the other things that don't have anything to do with the tour, because the tour is all-consuming. But I'm figuring it out! The first year, I felt a little bit like I was holding on for dear life. I was just exhausted. But you get in to the rhythm of, okay, this is the new normal, and this is just going to be this way. Because in another year and a half, when this tour is done, there will be a lot of down time. And, I guess because we've been doing this for such a long time, you know that. Any moment that you're in is going to change - our lives don't stay the same. So, you just really enjoy it while it lasts, because it goes so fast.
Special thanks to Monta Vaden for conducting this interview.