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TRACY LAWRENCE : He's Happy With His Teary Country Tunes

July 18, 1993|DENNIS HUNT

Country singer Tracy Lawrence can still tell the joke about how his career took off "faster than a speeding bullet" two years ago after he got shot four times while trying to protect a female friend from would-be robbers.

By the time Atlantic Records released his debut album in late 1991 the Arkansas native had largely recovered from a leg wound that nearly crippled him, but the media loved the story and he got more publicity than a dozen young singers.

But, Lawrence acknowledges, he's grown tired of all the media attention over the incident.

"I don't like being known as 'the country singer who got shot,' " the 25-year-old singer says. "I prefer to be known for my music."

His first album, "Sticks and Stones," eventually sold 800,000 copies and established Lawrence as one of the most promising figures in the booming country market. His second album, "Alibis," has already outsold the debut.

The back-to-back hits helped Lawrence win as best new male singer--over Billy Ray Cyrus--at the Academy of Country Music Awards telecast in May.

Lawrence is still ecstatic about the award, which gives him more credibility and a little edge in the crowded country music competition.

Those who know the slender singer weren't surprised by his aggressiveness against the robbers that day in Nashville. He certainly wasn't shy going after a record deal.

Seven months after he arrived in the country music capital in September, 1990, he was cutting an album for Atlantic--and doing it his way . Schooled in bar bands, singing George Jones-type honky-tonk music and mournful ballads, Lawrence resisted pressure to add a pop flavor to his sound.

"These days record companies want country singers to appeal to the pop market too," says Lawrence, whose specialty is twangy, tear-drenched story songs such as "We Don't Love Here Any More" and "It Only Takes One Bar (To Make a Prison)."

"But all I want to sing is country," he says. "With this drawl, country is all I can sing anyway. I don't want to be a pop star, and I won't cater to the pop market. I'm too headstrong for anybody to change my mind about that."

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