Title: Clint Black
With his 1989 single, ďA Better Man,Ē Clint Black launched a string of six Number One hits, a CMA Horizon Award, a Male Vocalist of the Year award, and an invitation to join the Grand Ole Opryóall in only three years, with a marriage to actress Lisa Hartman to boot. With a Grammy and eight top awards from the Academy of Country Music and the CMA, the veteran singer/songwriter has seen more than 30 of his songs on the Billboard country charts, including 27 Top Fives and 13 Number Ones. He made history directing his own music videos, the first to use large-format, 65mm film. He founded the artist-friendly label Equity Records in 2004 and continues to produce, tour and make music while supporting a number of charities. He was named 2001 Celebrity of the Year by St. Jude Childrenís Hospital for his ongoing support. Well known for his humanitarian work, especially on behalf of children, Black has provided support to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Child Haven and has entertained American troops in Somalia and elsewhere. His Clint Black Foundation includes a fund to help families of fallen soldiers.
You've lived several places. Where do you consider home?
Nashville is my home now. Iíll always have roots in Texas, my family is back there. Lisa has family all over the place, but Nashville is home. We sold our house in California, weíre trying to deepen our roots here, and this is the place I look forward to coming back to.
What do you miss most about Tennessee when youíre way?
The thing I miss most besides my family and getting home to them is just the simplicity. To me it feels like, after spending so much time in Houston and Los Angeles, that Tennessee is just getting away from it all, and a simple way of life.
What do you think makes Tennessee so popular?
Well, I may be biased but I think that country music makes Tennessee a great place to visit, and probably the blues as well in Memphis, and more than that. If you get away from the music side of it, itís just the beauty, the beauty of the state. I was driving to rehearsals yesterday and just thinking how beautiful and scenic the drive was just going to work.
What are the must-see things in Tennessee?
Well, if you go to Tennessee you have to go to Music City, Nashville, to the Grand Ole Opry and the Hall of Fame; go to Bristol and see where country music was born; go to Memphis and visit Beale Street and Graceland; and you gotta get up into eastern Tennessee near Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains. And if you can do it in the fall, itís like looking at a box of Fruit Loops, set in the mountains.
What do you love most about Tennessee?
You know, I have always been one of those people thatís happy wherever I am. But the thing I love most about Tennessee is just coming home to something simple, and beautiful. And if you get stuck in traffic, itís not going to take more than 15 minutes. It feels like youíre in the middle of nowhere, but you have everything you need.
What do you do for fun when youíre not working?
I love to go mountain biking in Tennessee, and I donít get to fish as much as I used to. I have a six-year-old daughter, so my lifeís taking a different direction. We go to the kidsí science museum and to the pumpkin patch. Itís mostly about her, and sheís a girly girl. Besides that, I just make music, get together with great song writers, get in the studio. Iíve done a little hunting but not nearly enough.
Where do you like to go out and eat?
In Tennessee, my favorite restaurants? The first thing that comes to mind--and my wife wouldnít be happy to hear this--but itís Rotiers, and itís been there since the í40s. I donít know the name of the street, but I just follow my nose. They have the best greasy hamburgersÖno health food comes to mind. Iíd say Rendezvous barbeque in Memphis; we always try and make a stop there.
How much time have you spent in other Tennessee cities?
Thatís a tough one. I visit a lot of places, but I mostly just see them from the bus. I got a great shave in Clarksville once; they still had a barber shop you could go in, sit down and get the best shave of your life. And I love going to east Tennessee. I think thatís just an unparalleled beauty up there.
Where do you like to go fishing in Tennessee?
Actually, I did do quite a bit of fishing up on Old Hickory. I did a lot of fishing, not as much catching as I would have liked, but I did try. The best thing about fishing for me is being there on the water in the quiet, no tough questions, just me and my pole and the water, and nothing really has to happen.
What other places in Tennessee do you like to take your family?
Chattanooga, with our daughter Lily, the aquarium, the IMAX theatre. Lily was too young to enjoy the huge bugs up close. The restaurants on the river--I donít know how to describe it; itís almost like going to Europe. It just feels like youíre on a great vacation. We were driving me to the airport last week, and we passed the turn for the aquarium and it came up, ďWe need to just go, and buy clothes when we get there.Ē I ended up having to catch the plane, but we love Chattanooga.
Where do you like to go to listen to live music?
You know I am partial to the Ryman Auditorium. I think itís the best place to see or play a show. But if you like the blues youíve got to go to Beale Street. Itís like Bourbon Street in New Orleans. It feels like youíve gone back in time in the South, and you could hop on a paddle wheeler and gamble or something. Itís just endless blues, which I love. And from there, Iím just stuck on Nashville and the Ryman. Itís like going back in time, if you have Jimmy Dickens or Porter Waggoner up there, you might as well be back in the í40s or í50s, waiting for Patsy Cline to come out.
Whatís your favorite Tennessee memory?
Itís really being on the water up in Old Hickory, looking back at all the time I spent up there. And now, Iím building new memories with my wife and daughter, doing things like going out to Radnor Lake and watching the turtles jump off the logs, which is exciting for my daughter, so itís exciting for me.
What music would you choose for a road trip?
You know thereís just one CD that comes to mind for a Tennessee road trip, and I think it comes to mind because, when Iím driving through Tennessee it just feels like I wanna hear some indigenous music. And I would say that it would be Mark OíConnor and the New Nashville Cats, and thatís as good as bluegrass gets. They get off into jazz too, but the bluegrass theyíre doing, itís some of the best bluegrass players in the world on one CD. Thatís what I would listen to. In fact, I was driving on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, and I just had to turn it up and laugh just thinking about being a Beverly hillbilly, just driving by all those expensive stores blasting bluegrass.
Clint Black enjoys:
Beale Street Historic District
Location: Memphis, TN
Robert Hicks enjoys:
Historic Downtown Franklin
Location: Franklin, TN
Clint Black enjoys:
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Location: Gatlinburg, TN
Clint Black enjoys:
Birthplace of Country Music Alliance Museum
Location: Bristol, TN