My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Spotlight Artist: T. Graham Brown

t graham brownAnthony (Tony) Graham Brown was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on 30 October 1954, and grew up in the small town of Arabi. Unlike many of our favourites at MKOC, he wasn’t a natural country singer, with influences ranging from classic country to soul and rock. His first musical performances were as a college student, when he was one half of a duo called Dirk & Tony, who played beach music, before then discovering 70s Outlaw country (as lead singer of a band called Reo Diamond) and then moving to an R& B group oddly called Rack Of Spam.

He moved to Nashville in 1982 with his veterinarian student wife Sheila, and his gravelly voice proved a selling point when he got work singing advertising jingles and songwriters’ demos. One of those demos was for a song called ‘1962’, written by an old high school friend of Brown’s, which was cut by an aspiring young artist called Randy Travis as ‘1982’, and became his first hit single. Meanwhile, Brown was honing his own songwriting skills. He signed a record deal with Capitol Records in 1984, initially for singles only. Since there was already a very prominent Nashville record executive named Tony Brown, the artist picked his first initial and middle name to use as his stage name. While his debut single, ‘Drowning In Memories’, was only modestly successful, just creeping into the top 40 on Billboard, he soon made a big breakthrough with the top 10 hit ‘I Tell It Like It Used To Be’ in 1986.

His distinctive soulful vocals and melding of country and R& B influences stood out on country radio, particularly as the tide turned and the neotraditionalists dominated. T’s success showed that there was still room for diversity alongside traditional sounds. A particlaulryl notable moment in his career was his duet with Tanya Tucker on the Radney Foster-penned ‘Don’t Go Out With Him’. His time at the top was relatively short lived, with his last top 40 single charting in 1991, but his best music is still memorable.

He has battled both an alcohol problem which started in his teens and a bipolar diagnosis. Neither helped his career. As Garthmania took over, Brown began to feel out of place on Capitol, and he moved to Warner Brothers, but neither they nor the next label, Sony, released any new music.

Towards the end of the 1990s he took the independent route, and he has recorded sporadically since. His latest album, a gospel one, is due out at the end of this month, which made him an ideal choice for the first MKOC Spotlight Artist of 2015.

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