Sammy Kershaw is living his dream

For more than 20 years, Louisiana native Sammy Kershaw has been entertaining country music audiences far and wide.

Internationally, he has wracked up more than five million in record sales and has more than two dozen songs that have cracked the Top 40 chart in America including his number one hits “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful” and “Love Of My Life.”

On the road promoting Better Than I Used To Be, his first studio record in five years, Sammy Kershaw will be performing at Casino New Brunswick tomorrow night. Show time is 8:30 p.m.

Sammy says that music has always played a big part of his life but was especially important in his younger years.

“When I was 12 years old, I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I grew up,” he says. “That was the time I started playing honky tonks and nightclubs, performing shows. Plus, I always knew that I could sing a damn good song.”

Influenced by the likes of George Jones, Hank Williams and Mel Street, Sammy released his debut record in 1991, which saw his song “Cadillac Style” crack the Top 10. His follow-up record Haunted Heart would be his second consecutive million-seller, a trend that would greet future Kershaw releases as well.

Buddy Cannon, who has been at helm of albums by Kenny Chesney and has written songs for the likes of George Strait and Vern Gosdin, produced Sammy’s newest record. It features a track entitled “Snow White Rows Of Arlington,” a song written by Hugh Prestwood that serves as a tribute to the men and women who serve the United States military.

Prestwood’s song spoke to Sammy on a personal level; the singer’s nephew has been on four tours of duty in Iraq.

Asked whether he ever envisioned people so close to home having to engage in combat operations overseas in this day and age, Sammy says that he believes American soldiers are helping right some wrongs done by negligent leaders world-wide:

“I believe combat operations are something that we are going to have do take part in as long as the earth is moving. I believe that you can’t stand by and let people in another country suffer at the expense of us not wanting to be involved. You have to take into consideration the way that some of these people have been treated and the way they live and focus on trying to help improve that for them.”

In addition to being an accomplished musician, Sammy has a huge passion for food, which he attributes mostly to his Cajun upbringing.

“I love to cook and I love to eat,” he says. “You start appreciating food at a young age where I’m from.”

Sammy is so passionate about food, he says that he is in the midst of compiling what he calls a “a good Cajun cookbook,” with recipes of his own as well as several that have been handed down to him by his mother and his grandmothers. While compiling the cookbook has been taking a little longer than he would prefer, Sammy is optimistic the book will be on store shelves in the New Year.

Sammy does his best to stay busy these days, playing an average of 75 to 80 shows a year even though he maintains that he “would be happier playing upwards of 120 shows.” The poor economy of the past few years has certainly taken its toll on many industries, including his; Sammy doesn’t believe that things are going to improve anytime soon, either.

“The economy here in the U.S. hasn’t been great over the past couple of years but it seems like we are feeling it now more than ever.

“But it’s not just guys like me that are feeling the effects of it. I know of a lot of people that work in the oil industry that have to go to Brazil to continue their work in the oil field.

President Obama cut off the work in the oil industry that was being done in Louisiana after the BP crisis. I think that his decision to do that was a knee-jerk reaction to what was obviously an accident to begin with. I really think that his decision is going to kill the state economically.”

When talk turns back to the fortunes of his newest record, Sammy says that he is pleased with the way promotional efforts for the release have been going since its release at the end of August but could definitely stand for things picking up some.

“It is going well but you know, I always hope for better. But given the state of the music industry these days, I will take what I can get. It is definitely a tough business nowadays, much different than the early days of my career.”

On one level, Sammy longs the days of radio past when a decent song got airplay on its own merit instead of airplay depending on who is spending the most at any given station.

“Getting radio airplay is very competitive,” he says. “Typically, the people with the biggest advertising budgets are the ones getting radio play which is too bad because there are a lot of great singers and a lot of great songs that won’t be heard because of that.”

Article published in December 8, 2010 edition of the Times & Transcript