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Randy Owen in the Tennessean!
Alabama's Randy Owen relishes solo career

After more than a year on the road and in recording studios without his fellow Alabama compatriots, singer Randy Owen is finally comfortable with his status as a solo artist.

"It's been extremely exciting, like putting on a totally wonderful new pair of pants every night," said Owen of playing fresh music with his new band (his country mega-group Alabama retired from touring in 2004). "It's like being able to go to a candy store and get the best of the best, and have the best attitudes and excitement every night. You're getting to do new music, and that's always something that's so rewarding. It's like food for your soul."

Now fans can hear the songs that have the usually easygoing Owen so worked up. The singer's debut solo project, One on One, will hit stores Tuesday along with his autobiography Born Country. Owen wrote or co-wrote seven of the 11 songs on the John Rich-produced disc. The entire process, he said, made him feel alive again.

"Basically we were looking for songs and trying to write songs and find something I felt comfortable with," Owen said. "It was really great writing with Vicky McGehee and James Otto and Shannon Lawson and John; it was a neat project. You get around people who are writing, and it excites you all over again. It brings out a part of your creative ability that otherwise might not have been brought out. All that excitement works together to make music seem more worthwhile, and my life has been about music for a long time."

Songs that made the disc include radio singles "Braid My Hair" and "Like I Never Broke Her Heart," in addition to some of Owen's favorite songs: "No One Can Love You Anymore," the sing-along-inducing "Urban's on the Country Radio" and the seductive title track.

"For me, I like 'One On One' because it's that mushy sexy love song that I love to write and perform," said Owen, who recently signed with Broken Bow Records. "That was the first song that I sung when John (Rich) asked me to sing a Randy Owen song. He threw his guitar over on the couch and said, 'That's what I'm talking about.' " Book recounts struggles

But the new disc isn't the only project the Fort Payne, Ala. native has in the works. The singer recently spent a chunk of time co-penning Born Country — a process he describes as a "huge undertaking."

Owen was adamant that the book focus on his years growing up in rural Alabama, the close nature of his family, his relationship with farming and his struggle for success.

"I want to hopefully emphasize something for me that's so important," Owen said. "The kids that are born in the rural part of our country, especially the South, that it's OK to be from a farm family. It's OK to be brought up in the country, it's cool to raise vegetables, it's cool to raise cattle, and it's cool to drive a pickup truck. Those are all things you can do and still grow up to do whatever you want to do. You can still get a college education and at the same time be a country boy or a country girl and be proud of who you are. You don't have to be rich to be proud, and it's OK to do all these things that I did."

Born Country also contains an assortment of Owen's personal photos, and offers insight into both his personal and musical history, from how he met and fell in love with a 15-year-old who later became his wife, to personal hardships the singer endured along the way.

"I think one of the things that people need to understand is that some of the saddest times of my life were during some of the most successful times for Alabama," Owen said. "That being when I lost my father, and I never really had a chance to grieve. It was all about money and people pushing me from every direction to get out there saying, 'Your daddy would want you to do this.' Well, they didn't know my daddy. They didn't know what he would want. I knew that, and I'm not sure that going out and doing a show was it. I paid for that in a few years. It was in '94 when I didn't have anything else to give. I just hit the wall, but I made it through that. It took a while."

But the father of three doesn't want to sound jaded or ungrateful for his success. In fact, after taking a much-needed year off immediately after the band retired, Owen said he's now ready to play music for the rest of his life.

"As long as God helps me and the people give me the opportunity, I want to write and sing music as long as I live and continue the work that I do to help kids at St. Jude (Children's Research Hospital)," he said. "That's something really important to me, that I use the talent God gave me to make a difference in people's lives. I've done that my whole career, and I feel like with a little success with new music I can do better and do more of it."

Read the Tennessean article online.