FEBRUARY 20th, 2020 ARTIST'S BIOS
LARRY STEWART OF RESTLESS HEART
LARRY STEWART of RESTLESS HEART -
Though Larry Stewart was exposed to music early on, it was sports that initially captured his attention. After receiving a baseball scholarship to Nashville’s Belmont College, Larry, whose father had passed away from a heart condition, found music as a way to close the gap he was feeling without his dad.
“In some ways, I moved to Nashville to live out my father’s dream,” admits Larry Stewart of what was to become his musical destiny. “When I got here, there were all kinds of people who valued musical talent–and I found myself slowly fitting into the music business.”
“The way I act is very normal. I just do what I do and let it go at that,” explains the soft-spoken vocalist. “It comes from growing up in a small town where the people respected each other and looked after each other. The values I learned there pretty much shape the way I look at the world around me.
“I had a pretty basic childhood. My parents loved me and I was around music from the first day I remember. My dad was a great singer and as I got older, I played piano for him, but I also played a lot of sports. They gave me support with whatever I did. They taught me lessons and gave me the tools to seek my dreams.”
“Being in Restless Heart showed me how powerful music can be,” Stewart says, defining his motivations. “I always knew how much it moved me–and there I saw it did the same thing to other people. To me, you need to sing songs for more than yourself. Making records is a privilege. I think you need to find songs that might give people a little insight into their own lives. Or give them words they may not have to tell the people they care for how they’re feeling.
“Let’s face it, he adds, with a laugh, “most guys aren’t real comfortable talking about their emotions in everyday conversation. I know I’m not!”
And so, Larry Stewart makes records. Over the years, many of the songs he’s sung have become standards. But for someone with a rich musical background, it makes sense. “My dad was one of the best singers I’ve ever heard, because he had this smooth, very warm baritone and sounded like Bing Crosby. But when he sang, it was like he was talking to you–it was conversational.
“He was friendly with Gordon Stoker of the Jordanaires and the Imperials. All those old classic gospel groups: the Statesmen, the Prophets, the Blackwoods–I was around all of them growing up. I remember going to singings, that’s what we called them, with the Happy Goodman Family.”
By the time he moved to Nashville, Stewart’s rich musical foundation was firmly in place. When he decided to make the transition from sports to music he, like so many hopefuls, had his share of menial Music Row jobs. He was a stock clerk at the Country Music Hall of Fame, mowed grass at performing rights administrators BMI and ran tape copies at MCA Music. It was while working at MCA that longtime family friend Jerry Crutchfield coaxed Stewart into singing a few demos for his brother Jan.
The word quickly spread about the young man with a voice that mixed strength and intimacy with a honest raggedness that made him real. Suddenly, Stewart was an in-demand demo singer–and it wasn’t long until destiny came knocking in the form of Tim DuBois, who was putting together a band called Restless Heart. It was a group marked as much by the quality of the songs they sang as their lush vocal harmonies.
“Two people searching for the American dream/Doing the best we can do/There ain’t much glamour, glitter and gold/It’s an uphill battle if the truth be told/This is a real life love/It ain’t perfect, but it’s close enough,” he sings on “Real Life Love,” of his album Heart Like A Hurricane. In that moment, it’s crystal clear why millions of people have clamored to hear him sing love songs over the years.
Though he believes that his strong suit is as a vocalist, Stewart is also an accomplished writer. In addition to penning “Long Lost Friend” for Restless Heart, he’s also contributed “But I Will” to Faith Hill’s debut, “Fool To Fall” as a single for Pearl River and “This Road” to Mike Reid’s critically acclaimed Twilight Town.
Though he’s reluctant to call himself a romantic (“I’m not sure it’s what you do, but more how you feel–and my family knows how I feel about them”), he does admit that every song he sings is something that speaks to people with his intense passion for music and emotion.
“To me, commitment is everything. Life isn’t easy; love isn’t easy,” he begins outlining his motivations. “But, if you’re committed and you stick with it, then it will work out. “I made a commitment to my family, my friends, country music and, especially, myself. Without that, there’s nothing–and it takes commitment to tough it out through the hard times. But you gotta.
“If you make a commitment, you have to carry it through. Maybe that’s where integrity comes in. At least, that’s what I hope for and work towards. And at the end of the day, you know you gave it your all, whatever it is. If that’s the case, then you have to feel good, because you’ve done what you believe in. That, to me, is what it’s all about.”
MARK NARMORE - was raised and still resides in Center Star, Alabama, in the shadow of the music mecca of Muscle Shoals. He grew up loving and emulating the sounds from those Shoals studios and has had a 33 year career as a songwriter. He graduated from Brooks High in 1983, then attended the University Of North Alabama where he received a degree in commercial music in 1988.
Mark also worked locally as a radio announcer. With over 80 cuts to his credit, he has had songs recorded by Josh Turner, Brandy Clark, Reba, Alabama, John Michael Montgomery, Shenandoah, Blackhawk, Terri Clark, Craig Morgan and many others. His song "That's What I Love About Sunday" was the most performed song at country radio in 2005 according to Billboard magazine and spent five weeks at number one. Also, it was the #8 Billboard country song of the 2000's decade and achieved gold sales status.
His first cut was on the Shoals supergroup Shenandoah--the solely penned "Moon Over Georgia" became a top five hit nationally. Mark was also co-writer along with Walt Aldridge on the number two country hit by Blackhawk, "Like There Ain't No Yesterday". Mark was awarded a bronze star for his musical achievements which is on permanent display in the lobby of the Alabama Music Hall Of Fame. His songs have appeared on nine gold or platinum albums. Mark has been a staff songwriter for FAME, Jody Williams Music, Reba McEntire's Starstruck Music Group, March Music, Sony ATV Tree and currently for Noble Vision Music Group in Nashville. Mark has had 14 songs co-written with and recorded by Josh Turner.
In 2016, Mark appeared as a songwriter on records by Brandy Clark and Shenandoah respectively that were nominated for both Grammy and Dove awards.
MIKE REID - An NCAA All-American and All-Pro NFL defensive lineman, Mike Reid was as dominant a force in commercial country music of the 1980s and early '90s as he was on the gridiron in the 1960s and '70s. Reid penned 12 #1 country hits, including one as a solo artist (1990's "Walk on Faith"), and he provided hit vehicles for Ronnie Milsap, Conway Twitty, Don Williams, Wynonna, Tim McGraw and others. Yet his best-known composition may be the pop hit "I Can't Make You Love Me," a stirring ballad of resignation that Bonnie Raitt took into the pop Top 20 in 1991 and that has since been re-recorded dozens of times.
A serious-minded piano player even during his time playing football at Penn State University and with the Cincinnati Bengals, Reid devoted himself completely to music upon his 1975 retirement from sports. He moved to Nashville in 1980 and signed with Milsap's publishing firm in 1982. Milsap quickly began recording Reid's songs. "Inside" hit #1 on the country chart in early 1983, and "Stranger in My House" (which won Reid a Grammy for Best Country Song) went to #5 later that year. In 1985, Milsap's recording of Reid's "Lost in the Fifties Tonight" was a #1 country hit and a #8 adult contemporary record, and it was the most-played country song of the year. "Lost in the Fifties Tonight" was named ASCAP's Country Song of the Year in 1986.
By the mid-1980s, Reid songs were radio staples, and he notched hits with Milsap ("She Keeps the Home Fires Burning," "In Love," "How Do I Turn You On," Conway Twitty ("Fallin' for You for Years"), Don Williams ("I Wouldn't Be a Man") and more. A soulful vocalist, Reid was featured as Milsap's duet partner for 1988's "Old Folks," and Reid's recording-artist deal with Columbia Records resulted in the chart-topper "Walk on Faith."
Three other Top 20 solo hits followed for Reid, but his prime mark on popular music would be as a songwriter. More than two decades after its creation, "I Can't Make You Love Me" remains in Raitt's set list at every concert, and it has been recorded by George Michael, Kenny Rogers, Nancy Wilson, Kelly Clarkson, Adele and others. Continuing his renaissance ways, Reid went on to compose theatrical and operatic works, winning a Richard Rodgers Development Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters for 1997's The Ballad of Little Jo. Inducted into Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame 2005.