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Artist Of The Day

Feature stories on artists and the music they make. June 20, 2000.

Tippin Sings About 'People Like Us'

By Ray Waddell

NASHVILLE -- An attention-grabbing leadoff single is creating excitement around Aaron Tippin's upcoming Lyric Street project, "People Like Us," with the label moving the street date up twice, most recently to July 25.

Aaron Tippin

"Kiss This" -- co-written by Tippin; his wife, Thea; and Philip Douglas -- is generating a big reaction at radio, and a new video should further propel the single.

"The record is huge here," says Smokey Rivers, assistant PD at KPLX (the Wolf) Dallas. " "Kiss This' is a real good, active song for us. In fact, it's one of the few records that have been able to penetrate through all the requests for George Strait tickets." CMT named "Kiss This" as its pick video, beginning June 14.

Even Tippin marvels at the reaction to the song. "There are songs we cut in the past that I thought might be radio-friendly songs, but the last thing I thought was they'd like some smart-mouth song like that," he says.

Meanwhile, Tippin and the Lyric Street staff are enthusiastic about the new project, Tippin's second with the label. "I just think this is a real, real Aaron Tippin record," says Doug Howard, senior VP of A&R at Lyric Street. "We just let Aaron be Aaron and didn't go chasing and trying to be anybody else."

"This time I let [producers] Biff Watson and Mike Bradley have more control musically than ever before," says Tippin. "I didn't say, 'I want more fiddle here or more steel there.' "

At the same time Tippin contributed heavily to the album's material, co-writing six of the 11 songs. "I owe Lyric Street a lot of thanks for believing I can still write a song," says Tippin. "And the great thing is [my] songs went through the same rigors every other song did to end up on the record."

Having so much of his own material on the record is a welcome change for Tippin. "On my last two albums for RCA, it was like they didn't want me to write a song," he says, adding that he understands the reasoning at his previous label. "When you start slipping, people get nervous, and they don't know whether to grab the tailpipe or the steering wheel. I don't think none of them ever meant me any harm. It's not like they woke up and said, 'I want to go out and kill Aaron Tippin's career today.' "

"People Like Us" not only showcases Tippin's writing but also finds the artist in fine voice, often singing in a lower register than earlier in his career. "I hate to admit this, but a while back I had some voice trouble, and it looked like I was going to have to have some surgery on my vocal cords," he says. "I went to Vanderbilt Voice Clinic, and they taught me how to sing again."

Tippin says in the past he had been oversinging to ill effect. "I was within three or four years of it being the end of my career," he says. "In the past [critics] always said I sang too country, too nasally. So I'd sing deeper in my throat, which was hurting me. [The voice clinic] taught me how to sing up in my nose and in my face to get the most singing with the least effort. But even though I retrained myself to sing, I still wanted to put the emotion in there that belongs there, so where it [needed] it, I pushed it."

Tippin is not bitter about any of his past country music business experiences and has no plans to tell anybody to "Kiss This" any time soon.

"I've spent 11 years on a label, not counting the time I spent in honky-tonks and writing, trying to get a record deal," he says. "If it all ends tomorrow, I've had a lot of fun. I've come to the conclusion that I'm lucky to be out here making music. I quit staring at the dice, because whatever comes up, comes up."

2001 Billboard and BPI Communications Inc.
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Jun 20, 2000

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