Most fans know Tracy Byrd as a multi-platinum country music recording artist. Indeed, his is. Tracy became well known to country music fans when his third single called “Holdin Heaven” off his debut album from MCA Records reached # 1 on Billboard Country Charts in 1993. The album also included a new version hit of the Johnny Paycheck’s “Someone to Give My Love to.” His Debut Album went on to be certified Gold, selling in excess of 500.000 copies.
That was the beginning of a string of hit songs and albums that cemented is Country Super Star status.
From his second album, “No Ordinary Man,” went to Double Platinum status (sales over 2 million) with hits such as:
- Lifestyle’s of the Not so Rich and Famous
- The First Step
- Watermelon Crawl
- Keeper of the Stars
Keeper of the Stars went on to #1 on the singles charts and won the Academy of Country Music’s “Song of the Year” award in 1995. It’s still one of the top wedding songs of county music fans.
Throughout the 90’s and into the new Millennium, Tracy continued to produce more than 30 country music hits, including two greatest hits albums. His latest album, Tracy Byrd: Live at Billy Bob’s Texas was released in 2019. If you want a full review of his music career and biography you can visit the Tracy Byrd Page on Wikipedia.
This article is not about so much his music career as the choices he made and continues to make to put his career in perspective.
Tracy Byrd: His Path to Music – Family Balance
As you can imagine with a country super star, he was in heavy demand and playing over 200 shows a year. As a young man he was having a lot of fun on the road with his fame. His Nashville connections, including his label and Nashville-based band kept the pressure on him to keep the touring going. It was a very competitive time to write and record chart hits and get radio play.
His roots were in Beaumont, Texas where he grew up and where his family lived. Whether it was maturing as a man, wanting to rebalance his life or a combination of these and other issues, Tracy took the extraordinary step of stepping back from country music in 2009. By stepping back, I mean really stepping back. That included stopping recording and touring, selling his tour bus, shuting down his fan club and Facebook page among other things. His radio play and fan base dried up. Once he made his decision, he was fine with the consequences.
He returned to his family life in Beaumont to spend time with his wife, Michelle, and their three children. He was more than happy being a husband and dad and being there as his children grew into young adults.
As his children grew, in 2014 he started touring locally with a new band. Since then he has increased his touring schedule and now plays all over the country again. He has expanded the number of shows to about 80 shows per year before the pandemic.
He’s doing it his way. Gone are the Nashville connections. He pulled his new band together from a couple of hundred miles of Beaumont. His band definitely includes a still guitar and fiddle. He writes what he wants, he tours when he wants, and his new career revolves around a music and life balance from his Beaumont home.
He comfortable in his own shoes and is not looking to do what it takes to raise his profile. He’s not willing to give up what he has found to make the efforts required to aggressively raise his profile in country music. Why should he? His fans love him, and he loves them. If you attend one of his concerts you will see this in action as he engages his fans.
Yeah, in my mind, I’m old school. I’m a little late to the whole social media game but, to me, there’s still no better way to engage than to get on the road.
“I go out every night after the show and sit in my merch booth and sometimes, that meet-and-greet lasts longer than the show. “Fans are telling me that they are not getting what they are craving in today’s country music, so they come and see guys like me to get their fix. I mean, our band features a steel guitar and a fiddle. Those things are hard to find these days.”
I’ll sit there until I’ve done everyone. There’s no time limit unless the venue puts one on me.
I’ll sit there until I’ve signed with everybody and visit with everybody and there’s no better way, in my mind, to engage with people than that.
A Perspective from Those Who Work with Him
While Tracy shies away from an exclusive booking arrangement, he has agreed to join the TSE Roster of Featured Country Artists. Booking and advancing his shows gives those who work with him at TSE a “backstage” view of what fans may or may not see. Here’s my perspective and that of another of our partners who have worked with him multiple times since his return to touring.
Glenda Black: TSE Partner
Tracy Byrd is one of the humblest musicians I have ever had the pleasure of working with. He is friendly, personable, down to Earth, and loves his fans. His show today, in my opinion, is even better than in the 90’s. It is so full of energy and crowd interaction. Not only does he play his incredible songs, but he also mixes in other great hits from other incredible artists. His entire crew is great to work with before, during, and after the show. The Tracy Byrd package is a class act and one of my absolute favorite bands to book.
Mike Black: TSE Partner
Having worked with Tracy Byrd on numerous occasions in the Music Industry, I have personally got to know and observe this Ultimate Professional. For example, once after a concert in Bay City, Texas for the Matagorda County Fair and Livestock Exposition Concert, I was walking from the Rodeo Arena to the backstage parking lot with Tracy on the way to his tour bus. A young boy, about the age of 7 or 8, came up to Tracy and ask him if he would autograph his cowboy hat. Tracy said “Sure will Cowboy’’. He felt around in his pockets and said ‘’Heck, I don’t have a sharpie. You got one Mike?’’ Of which I said no. (for some reason I didn’t have one like I usually do) Tracy looked at the young cowboy and said ‘’wait here and I’ll be right back.’’ He literally took off in a sprint to his bus, got a sharpie, and was back in a flash. He then signed the grinning boys hat and all was good with the world. ‘’The Ultimate Professional’’.
At another concert in Baytown, Texas for the City of Baytown’s annual July 3rd and 4th Celebration, in front of no less than 10,000+ fans, TSE had Tracy Byrd and Joe Diffie on the show with Tracy closing. Joe Diffie also was great to work with. After Joe put on a great 90-minute set of his hits, Tracy came on for his 90 minutes. I was watching from my usual spot…. Backstage. After he did two or three songs he stopped and told the audience a funny story. He said when he first got to Nashville and had released his first single he was all pumped up because his buddy Joe Diffie had an immediate #1 hit he figured ‘’Well, I guess it’s my turn to have a #1’’. It didn’t turn out that way. I think it might have hit the top 50 but barely. Not discouraged because it is RARE to have a hit on you first release. Ask George Strait. And then his record label, MCA Records, released his second single and it did about the same as his first. Being from Beaumont, Texas, after his 2nd song fizzled, he picked up the phone and called his Dad back home and ask him “Hey Dad, do you think you can still get me hired on out at the plant?” Lots of refineries and such in that area. But his Dad said, ‘’Son, you hang on, it’ll come to you’’. And he was right, his third release, “Holdin’ Heaven”, HIT #1!
Tracy Byrd has always been great to work with and so is his band. Always on schedule, prompt and are all pros. Tracy is down to earth, very polite, loves his fans and what he does. From TSE’s perspective he is The ULTIMATE PROFESSIONAL!
If you enjoy the best of country music and a true country star performer and gentleman, you should consider Tracy for your next event. He leavesT his fans happy they came and he still has plenty of them.