When Terri Clark got the news three years ago that her mother Linda was struggling against cancer, she knew it was going to change her life. What the record-breaking Canadian Country Music Association’s longest-running Fans Choice Entertainer of the Year didn’t realize was that her mother’s battle was going to impact her music.
But in typical Terri Clark fashion, watching her mother fight – and push back against the deadly disease – was a lesson that inspired her beyond personal heroism. From her mother’s courage, Clark emerged knowing she couldn’t follow fashion, but needed to be true to the kind of music that originally lured a fresh out of high school beauty with big dreams of Reba, the Judds and Tammy Wynette to what was then the Lower Broadway combat zone for an afternoon shift of playing requests for tips at Tootsies.
“When you see someone fighting as hard as my Mom was, it strikes you the things that matter,” Clark explains. “To her, life was everything. It was about personal integrity, her family, the things she loved about living… and I realized I couldn’t make my music for any less. My fans deserved that from me, especially after the stories of things they tell me my music’s gotten them through over the years.”
So, Terri Clark did the unthinkable. She asked Joe Galante to release her from her Sony/BMG contract. Not because it wasn’t a good place to be, but because Terri Clark needed a different path.
“Joe was unbelievably gracious,” Clark explains. “I think he understood that this record I needed to make needed to be more… more personal, more country, more raw… He is an incredible artist guy, in that he knew where I was, and he didn’t hold me to (my contract).”
With her release in hand, Clark set out to fashion an album that was her essential self. Culling some of Nashville’s very best musicians, the dark-haired songwriter decamped at Sound Emporium for a series of triples (3 hour recording sessions stacked on top of each other) and created The Long Way Home, an album due in September that celebrates her raucous side, real country edge, introspection and especially the full-flung vocals that have always marked her songs of good timing, strength and loss.
“I really tried to ‘cast’ these sessions,” Clark begins. “I needed a certain kind of burn from the guitars – so that’s Kenny Greenburg… I needed a honky tonk, and then a steamy, but also a spiritual kind of keyboard on there – so that was John Hobbs… I really tried to think about what these songs called for, and once I got the players, I wanted them to be able to really create, really dig inside and feel what was going on. So many of them have recorded with me over the years, so I trusted they’d know where to go.”
Indeed, they did. With a definite sense of joy and passion, the 11 songs on The Long Way Home have punch, pathos and the super-sized heart that has marked Clark’s kind of country from the beginning. Producing herself, Clark found an even deeper sense of her music – and that shows on a collection where she wrote her life, struggles and seeking and offers it up in its most full-tilt form.