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Tritt travels road from outcast to country star

Once thought to be too rock ’n’ roll for country, Travis Tritt is now country music royalty.

The twice Grammy-Award-winning singer and musician will perform at a soldout concert on Saturday, March 22, at Red Deer’s Sheraton Centre. The 51-year-old performer is so popular with his Central Albertan country fans that concert organizers scrambled to free up 100 more tickets once the original run sold out.

And even though these tickets had to be claimed in person, when word got out, they were scooped up within hours.

While Tritt is best known for such hits as Can I Trust You With My Heart and Here’s a Quarter, he initially survived some pretty lean years.

The Georgia native taught himself to play the guitar and write music while in high school. But Tritt’s father never thought he’d make it as a musician and his mother preferred that he sing Christian tunes.

Eventually, he became a regular performer on the Atlanta club scene, after quitting his day job at an air-conditioning firm. But when he began pursuing his goal of being a full-time musician, the country music industry was reluctant to endorse Tritt, due to his rock ’n’ roll leanings.

He stuck to his own style, regardless, and it paid off. In 1987, Tritt sent a demo album to Warner Bros. Nashville division and landed a record deal.

He released his first album, Country Club, in 1990 and got his first Top 10 hit with the title track, followed by two more successful singles, Help Me Hold On and I’m Going to Be Somebody.

It’s All About to Change, his 1991 album, had a prophetic title. Millions of copies of the release were sold and Tritt became a full-blown country star, joining the ranks of Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson and obtaining the same agent as Tricia Yearwood and Kenny Rogers.

All four singles off his second album reached Top 5 on the country charts, including Here’s a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares), Nothing Short of Dying and The Whisky Ain’t Workin’ Anymore — his duet with Marty Stuart, which went on to win his first Grammy Award for best country vocal collaboration.

(In 1999, he won a second Grammy in the same category for another collaboration with Stuart and others — Same Old Train.)

Tritt continued to stage rock-style country concerts throughout the 1990s, following up with the albums T-R-O-U-B-L-E, Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof, The Restless Kind and No More Looking Over My Shoulder.

In 2000, he struck gold with Down the Road I Go, which produced his last No. 1 hit, Best of Intentions, as well as It’s a Great Day to Be Alive and Love of a Woman, which both peaked at No. 2.

Through the past decade, Tritt has explored other musical genres, recording a duet with soul singer Sam Moore in 2006, and teaming up with American Idol judge Randy Jackson to record The Storm in 2007. The bluesy R&B album put him back on the charts with You Never Take Me Dancing.

Tritt has also acted in movies, such as The Cowboy Way, and made-for-TV projects such as Rio Diablo. And he has been a vocal proponent of right-wing causes, supporting former U.S. president George W. Bush, the National Rifle Association and capital punishment.

The thrice-married singer and father of three children describes his music as being geared toward the working man.

“I write from my personal experiences. If I haven’t lived it, I can’t write it.”



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