Tenacity pays off for country singer

Liz Beavers

It’s been a long time coming, and it almost made him throw up his hands and quit the business, but Charlie Kenney’s first full-length album has finally been released.

“I started working on it in 2007,” the Short Gap country singer said this week. “We recorded it in November 2007 and it was supposed to be released in March 2008, but it just didn’t happen.”

Calling the experience “a crazy process,” Kenney explained that after going through two different record companies, the process of finishing up and releasing his long-awaited album fell to him.

“I was basically stuck between two record labels,” he said. “But I had a lot of people that I knew in Nashville that I contacted and they helped me through the licensing process and what to do to get this album out there.”

The process was definitely a learning experience for the singer.

“I had to learn the whole business on my own. It took me over a year,” he said, adding that he and his band, Fire Creek, were continuing to play gigs at the same time.

“I found out it’s hard to run the business side of music. Music isn’t just music,” he explained. “Most people don’t see the business side of it.

“It almost broke me,” he admits. “It almost made me give up.”

The singer summoned up the perseverance that took him from a small town in Mineral County to playing before crowds of 500 or more adoring country music fans and kept at it until the album dropped last Friday.

The final product contains 10 songs, which were narrowed down from the original 5,500 that had been submitted to him through an ad in Music Row Magazine.

“My wife and I sat down and listened to them all. It took us about two weeks,” he said, noting that “the UPS man was very busy” bringing the submitted CDs to his house in Short Gap.

“I was looking for something that was different; something that caught my attention right off the bat,” he said. “I’m an older, ‘outlaw’ country type of person, and I was looking for something that would fit my style.”

Kenney and his wife narrowed the list down to 35, and the record label — the first of two he dealt with — picked out “the best 10.”

Not all 10 of those songs made it to the album, however, as Kenney wanted to include a couple of the songs that he had already been singing for his live audiences.

He found the actual recording process to be longer than he had expected.

“When I did my demo, we cut four songs in three hours,” he said. “On a full-length album, you spend that much time just on one song.”

He was anxious to try the songs out on his audience, however, and started singing two of them during his concerts.

“The people just loved them,” he said.

Apparently his fans love the album, as well, as he has already sold all 1,000 from the first issue just since Friday.

He credits his band for helping him to get where he is today.

“They’re just a great bunch of guys. I couldn’t do this without them, and a lot of other people who have supported me,” he said.

And of course he thanks the fans, whose loyalty sometimes surprises Kenney.

“We played a festival in North Carolina, and 21 or 22 people from here drove  down there to hear me. That’s great support,” he said.

Perhaps the biggest thrill, however, was hearing his own song for the first time on the radio.

“WFRB played it a couple of times,” he said, referring to “Somethin’ Somethin’” off his album. “To actually hear them talk about you and hear your song on there, that’s just a feeling I couldn’t put into words,” he said.

“That’s every musician’s dream.”

Copies of Kenney’s album are available at his concerts. They may also be ordered online at www.charliekenney.com.

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