Since the time of his 1989 debut record, the triple-platinum Killin’ Time, Black was a key player with country music’s reboot at the start of the 1990s.
With more than 100 songs written, recorded and released over the course of 10 records, Black has accumulated more than 20 million records sold in the past 20-plus years, a remarkable feat for any artist.
Not only is Black a bonafide country superstar, he has established many different business ventures while also setting up various charitable efforts as well.
A friendship forged between Black and Olympic gold medallist figure skater Scott Hamilton while on TV’s Celebrity Apprentice saw the duo team up to secure $1 million in matching fund donations for the International Rett Syndrome Foundation.
Black currently serves as the honorary chairman for the foundation’s ‘Research to Reality: Funding Progress’ campaign which helps to accelerate treatments and research to find a cure for the developmental disorder.
This past May, Black released his first new music in more than seven years. Black donated the track, She Won’t Let Go, to the film Until They Are Home, a movie documenting the emotional task of the JPAC (Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command), whose responsibility it is to repatriate American soldiers captured or killed in the line of duty.
Though the song takes its title from a photograph from which Black drew his inspiration, its use in the film clearly means much to the 50 year-old musician.
‘The title of the song She Won’t Let Go was taken from a photo I had seen of a soldier in formation whose little girl would not let go of his hand,’ Black says. ‘He was shipping out to Iraq at the time. Since that photo was taken, I’ve gotten to know his family and I tell you, it is not only very inspiring but it is also very moving to be able to put a personal face to troops being deployed.’ Black’s respect and appreciation for the work that American soldiers perform manifests itself in a variety of forms including he and his wife Lisa Hartman-Black filming messages of support for the troops. He downplays these gestures as nothing more than simply being appreciative of the work that is being done by the brave men and women of the United States Army.
‘It is extremely tough to leave your family but to leave for a year or more, not knowing if you are going to come back and if you do come back, you might not be whole. So we do our best to find ways to show ou r appreciation for the work they do.’ And though Black has largely remained out of the musical spotlight over much of the past seven years, it has not necessarily been by choice.
In the early part of this century, Black founded the Equity Music Group, which found rather respectable success with country act Little Big Town. Despite the success, the label folded, an unwilling victim of today’s harsh musical climate.
At the present time, Black is in talks with record labels to secure the release of future records. He anticipates having a new studio album wrapped up by the end of the summer, optimistically looking forward to the release of new music on his own terms.
‘I haven’t been affiliated with a record company for the past seven years,’ he says.
‘I spent many years with RCA however I was encountering resistance to me writing my own material, despite me having written my debut record which turned out to be a big success. Continued success was too critical to them and I don’t feel as though they really trusted me as a songwriter.
‘I don’t want to be in a situation like that again. I truly don’t believe that it was optimum for either of us. I want to work with a record company that is willing to embrace me as a songwriter. And so far, it has been nice, there has been some interest but my management and I are largely on the same page; there is no need to rush anything.’ Stating that he is performing an average of 60 shows per year, Black says that this is a good pace for both him and his family. Joking that his last really long tour of 125 cities was ’25 cities too much,’Black says that being more selective about the shows he plays allows for a different energy between him and his band members.
‘You don’t want to be in the midst of a tour, look back on it and realize that we should have taken a break. I always want to be excited to be on stage and feel as though we are still being challenged. We want to keep everything fresh and new. Where we are now, every night is exciting.’
Article published in August 9, 2012 edition of the Times & Transcript