As the lead singer of the legendary group Alabama, Randy Owen would appear to have seen and done it all 73 million albums sold, countless miles on the road touring, a warehouse full of awards and a coveted spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Yet this singer/songwriter/entertainer/rancher is embarking on a new path a solo career with a new album One On One set for an early summer release, and a tour kicking off around the same time with a 10-piece band and an attitude that rivals a brand new artist.
"I'm as excited about this as I've ever been," said Owen. "Before I decided to do the solo thing, we put a band together and did some dates late last year to see if the fans were still out there. When I came back I was totally convinced we needed to do this."
Randy teamed up with John Rich to produce One On One for the newly-formed DMP Records label. The multi-faceted Rich, who has produced Gretchen Wilson, his own duo Big & Rich, James Otto, Jewel, and John Anderson's critically-acclaimed Easy Money album, jumped at the chance to work with the legend. "John's so smart about what he wants to hear," said Randy of the experience. "And the musicians he works with in the studio understand what he wants. We really took our time with it and didn't rush it, and I'm really pleased with what we came out with."
His long connection with his fans is the exact reason he titled the album One On One. "I feel like this album is a real personal thing me to you," he says passionately. "The song One On One' is one of the most personal songs on the album."
The first single from One On One entitled "Braid My Hair," came to Randy in a very creative manner. Writers Chris Gray and Brent Wilson who never had a song released as a single knew Randy Owen was the man to cut the song but ran into brick walls on every avenue they used to get the song to him. Gray finally tracked down the address to Randy's mother's house and sent the song to her. She listened to the song, liked it and passed it along to her son.
"I said, mama, I'm so sorry people send you these songs,' and she said well, you might want to listen to that one,'" recalled Randy. "So I listened to it four or five times, and I thought wow, what a song.'"
The song became the first single from One On One, and 100% of the publishing proceeds from the song will be donated to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. "How much more loving and compassionate can you get than that song," asked Randy. "It's so real, and I've seen this lived out over and over at St. Jude. It's an incredible story done in song. To kick this album off with this song is definitely right way to go."
For over 25 years Randy was the front man and lead vocalist of one of the most prolific groups in the history of music. The band signed a recording contract with RCA Records in 1980, launching a career that to date has resulted in 21 gold, platinum and multi-platinum albums, 42 number one singles and, again, over 73 million albums sold. Alabama received over 150 industry awards including eight country music "Entertainer of the Year" honors, two Grammys, two People's Choice Awards and their very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They were named the "Artist of the Decade" by the Academy of Country Music in 1989 and "Country Group of the Century" by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1999. In November 2005, Randy and his Alabama Band mates received Country Music's highest honor, being inducted into The Country Music Hall of Fame.
"I'm very proud of everything we accomplished, and I hold what we did with Alabama as a very sacred part of my life," Randy concludes.
Randy's passion for helping others is evident through the types of causes he and the band choose to support. Alabama played an integral role in raising millions of dollars for schools, public service organizations, hospitals, youth ranches and scholarships. But no organization is dearer to Randy's heart than the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
In 1989, Randy was asked to address the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville following the death of Danny Thomas who was to be the seminar's keynote speaker. Inspired by the dreams and determination of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital founder Thomas, Randy offered a challenge to those in attendance to accept Danny's dream of eradicating childhood cancers and other catastrophic diseases. Randy delivered the message well, and Country radio accepted the challenge with passion. "Country Cares for St. Jude Kids" was born.
"I called it the Miracle on Beale Street,'" said Randy, referring to St. Jude being based in Memphis and the city's most famous street.
The national radiothon program is today the most successful radio fundraiser in history. Hundreds of radio stations and the entire music industry have joined hands and forces to fight the never ending battles of childhood cancer and other diseases. The events have raised an astounding $315 million since Randy's challenge in 1989.
For his efforts, last year Tony Thomas, son of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas, presented Randy with the prestigious Founder's Award an honor that Danny only bestowed on very special occasions. In accepting the award, Owen acknowledged the fans of country music, the men and women of country radio and the country music industry for embracing Danny's dream.
When not on the road promoting his music career, Randy can be found operating his successful working cattle ranch "Tennessee River Music" on the grounds of his Lookout Mountain boyhood family farm. "Tennessee River Music" has garnered many national, regional and state championships in the registered Polled Hereford Breed. In May, he will host his 25th major cattle sale at his ranch. Each year he performs at the event, and all concert proceeds will be donated to the Hereford Youth Foundation which is dedicated exclusively to scholarship and educational support of youth in the business of raising Hereford cattle.
No one would blame Randy Owen if he decided to sit back and enjoy his legendary status as one of the founding members and lead vocalist of the Recording Industry Association of America Country Group of the Century, yet his heart still burns to take new music to the fans who have been touched by his words, his music. One On One both on radio and on stage - is sure to give back to the fans what God has given him.
"I still love to get out and play. I'm head-over-heels into this album, and I'm in it for the long run."