Tracy Lawrence is one of the premier voices of his generation, a sensitive and intelligent singer who continues to stretch both as an artist and as a person. Lawrence’s dedication to honesty and respect for tradition has enabled him to build one of the most respected careers in recent country history.
Along the way, Tracy has posted more Number One Billboard country singles than greats like Glen Campbell, Keith Whitley, Ernest Tubb, Wynonna or Barbara Mandrell, to name just a few; more Top Fives than Shania Twain, Faith Hill or The Judds; and more Top Tens than Ricky Skaggs, Charlie Rich, John Michael Montgomery or Dwight Yoakam.
Tracy hit the national spotlight in 1991. He was just 23, the product of a rough-and-tumble childhood in Foreman, Arkansas. A self-described “hellion” as a youngster, Lawrence found release in performing. He was playing at music jamborees at fifteen and in honky-tonks at 17, learning, he says, “what it takes to keep them on the dance floor through four or five sets.”
He moved to Nashville in 1990 in a ten-year-old Toyota Corolla that had, he says, “about 250,000 miles on it, expired tags, no insurance, only three cylinders and a fan with a piece of wire around it to cool the car.” He was a huge fan of Keith Whitley, Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard, and he idolized George Strait, complementing those influences with an appreciation for Southern rock, which he knew held a special place in the hearts of his honky-tonk audiences. He was also taken by a country tradition that was then finding its chief manifestation in Randy Travis.
Lawrence adopted elements from all of these sources, and his striking vocal instrument - distinctively country with a cutting edge - earned him attention from the beginning. While working a series of side jobs, he entered singing contests around town, regularly winning first prize. A live appearance on a Kentucky radio station and a showcase at Nashville’s famed Bluebird Cafe led to his 1991 signing to Atlantic Records.
Lawrence’s debut album, Sticks and Stones (1991) boasted four Top Ten country hits and launched him into the forefront of the decade’s young talent. Journalists praised his style and fans pushed sales of the album to platinum certification. He proved he had the goods on the road as well, being named SRO’s Best New Touring Artist in 1993.
As if that weren’t enough, his second album, the double-platinum Alibis (1993), spawned four straight Number One smashes - the title cut, “Can’t Break It To My Heart”, “My Second Home” and “If The Good Die Young” - and earned raves everywhere from GQ to Newsweek. “That got us past the sophomore jinx,” Lawrence says with a grin. During the mid-’90s, he was among the most-played artists in all genres.
Yet another quartet of major hits rose from the platinum I See It Now (1994), including “If The World Had a Front Porch” and “Texas Tornado”. Then, Lawrence hit a creative and sales peak with “Time Marches On,” a Bobby Braddock-penned blockbuster that led the 1996 album of the same name to double-platinum status and earned Lawrence nominations at all the major awards ceremonies.
Lawrence’s next album, 1997’s The Coast is Clear, produced the trademark hit “Better Man, Better Off”. It preceded Lessons Learned (2000), which found the singer re-energized by his country roots. Both discs earned critical praise and kept Lawrence’s radio presence and catalog sales chugging along.
It’s no surprise that over the years Lawrence has received widespread recognition: He was named Billboard’s Top New Male Vocalist in 1992, garnering the Academy Of Country Music’s Top New Male Vocalist trophy a year later; he earned the Country Weekly Golden Pick Awards’ Video Artist of The Year prize in 1995 and its Editor’s Choice Platinum Pick crown in 1996, among other honors.
Lawrence has produced his own and others’ work and co-wrote a number of the songs he’s recorded, including “If The World Had a Front Porch” and “Can’t Break It to My Heart”. Moreover, he has had considerable impact beyond the record industry. Lawrence contributed the song “Renegades, Rebels and Rogues” to the Maverick soundtrack and has starred in two CMT specials, one of which included footage from a USO tour that saw him entertain troops in Kosovo. He also co-produced nine of the thirteen songs on The Civil War: The Nashville Sessions, a collection of songs written for the Broadway theater production “The Civil War: An American Musical Event.” It features Travis Tritt, Deana Carter, Trace Adkins, Kevin Sharp, Michael English, Trisha Yearwood and John Berry.
Lawrence has always been active in charitable causes, and he is annually at the helm of two events that are especially meaningful to him: a homecoming concert in his hometown that funds the Tracy Lawrence Foundation and a golf tournament in Texarkana, Texas, benefiting both the Tracy Lawrence Foundation and the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Lawrence’s foundation has endowed scholarships and, most recently, provided funds to equip a high school computer science lab, a room that has been named after him. Lawrence helped raise more than a million dollars for the fight against Cystic Fibrosis; he’s participated in numerous fundraisers for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; generated awareness and funds for CASA, a non-profit organization providing trained volunteer advocates to abused and neglected children caught up in the legal systems; and supported a lengthy list of the charitable causes of fellow celebrities and media outlets through live concert appearances, autograph signings, auction item donations, and interviews. “People have a duty to help each other out,” he says. “I’m happy I can give something back to society through my efforts to raise funds and awareness for these important causes.”