My Kind of Country

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

Classic Rewind: Paulette Carlson – ‘Whiskey If You Were A Woman’

A Highway 101 hit:

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6 responses to “Classic Rewind: Paulette Carlson – ‘Whiskey If You Were A Woman’

  1. Paul W Dennis December 9, 2017 at 8:44 am

    I liked this Highway 101 #2 hit single from 1987. While I liked Carlson’s voice in a group context, it is easy to see (hear ??) how it was that her solo career didn’t pan out

  2. Luckyoldsun December 12, 2017 at 2:46 am

    There were a lot of talented women singers in the ’80s-’90s, who never made it on radio at all–Joy White, Bobbie Cryner, Dawn Sears, Kelly Willis come to mind. I’d say Paulette should have been satisfied to have struck gold as the featured artist in a hit-making group and not assumed that she could walk away and reappear as a solo act and have radio embrace her.
    Wynonna Judd was able to do it, but she had a change in image and sound, going from being the “daughter” in the Judds to being her own woman. The country music market also knew Wynonna Judd from the Judds’ frequent media appearances. I’d guess that a lot of listeners who were familiar with Highway 101’s hits did not even know the name Paulette Carlson.

    • Ken December 12, 2017 at 9:04 am

      Your comparison of Wynonna Judd to Paulette Carlson is inaccurate. Wynonna did not simply choose to embark upon a solo career. She was forced to because of her mother’s retirement from The Judds due to illness (Hepatitis C) Paulette CHOSE to leave Highway 101. Bottom line is that because Wynonna was far better known individually it was a huge advantage when she became a solo performer.

      Paulette had attempted a solo career prior to the creation of Highway 101. She released several unsuccessful singles for RCA in the early 1980’s. But to be clear Paulette’s name became quite well known even though she was part of Highway 101. Many radio stations identified her by name when playing their songs as “Highway 101 featuring Paulette Carlson” [Their second single ‘Whiskey If You Were A Woman” actually billed them by that name on the record label] The act was successful in the late 1980’s during the heyday of The Nashville Network where Paulette was frequently mentioned by name whenever the group appeared on “Nashville Now” and other programs. Perhaps YOU did not know who she was but that was not the case for most core country fans.

      I believe that this was simply a case where the sum was greater than it’s parts. As a solo act on Capitol/Liberty Records Paulette and her new producer Jimmy Bowen could not recreate the Highway 101 “sound” that made that group so popular. Nor did they select songs that were as compelling. Many acts have left successful groups for solo careers that did not pan out. That decision is usually fueled by a combination of ego, poor management advice and influence from other sources (i.e. family)

      • Luckyoldsun December 13, 2017 at 8:55 pm

        I don’t think we disagree, though you like to peg it that way.
        Wynonna Judd naturally “graduated” from being the girl in a mother-daughter act to being a grown-up star in her own right. I’m not equating her to Michael Jackson, but he also graduated from the Jackson 5 to being his own man.
        There didn’t seem to be any compelling reason for Carlson to go split from Highway 101 other than that she was the centerpiece and wanted to get the glory as a solo artist. The business is so competitive that that usually doesn’t work. Raul Malo was the centerpiece of the Mavericks and left to go solo. But he quickly learned that promoters of music festivals, etc. wanted “the Mavericks” a lot more than they wanted “Raul Malo.” Heck, even Ronnie Dunn discovered that if he wants to co-headline in Vegas with Reba McEntire, it’s gotta be with “Brooks & Dunn.” “Ronnie Dunn” just doesn’t cut it.

  3. Occasional Hope December 12, 2017 at 3:24 am

    The songs on her solo album were also very mediocre.

    • Razor X December 15, 2017 at 10:07 am

      It’s interesting to speculate how things might have been different if she had remained on Warner Bros. and used the same producers for her solo work as she had with Highway 101. Jimmy Bowen had a huge stable of artists in those days. Virtually every MCA release while he was head of that label, lists him as the producer. Ditto for when he went to Capitol. And Paulette’s woes may have been compounded by being on the same label as Garth. If she had had a producer who could have made her more of a priority and provided her with stronger material, maybe she would have made it. We’ll never know for sure.

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