Just over eight years into his recording career, Toby Keith believes he has found his artistic niche and that he ranks as “one of the industry’s core artists.”
Keith celebrated the success of his recent No. 1 hit, “I’m Just Talkin’ About Tonight,” Wednesday (Oct. 3) during a breakfast reception at Broadcast Music Inc.’s offices on Music Row.
The character in the song is unapologetic about his pursuit of a one-night stand. Like Keith’s cocky signature smash “How Do You Like Me Now?!” and his current single, “I Wanna Talk About Me,” the song has attitude. The country star says attitude is what his audience has come to expect from him.
“It’s my job to deliver that,” he said after the party. “You’re always in search of defining your place in the industry, and that’s what mine is. I’ve landed in my niche. … I stuck to my guns, and that crack I was seeking to find is now the Grand Canyon. I know exactly what I’m supposed to do and I know exactly how to deliver it, so I have no wasted energy on other things.”
Keith speculated that other country artists might start performing songs in a similar vein as a result of his success.
“‘How Do You Like Me Now?!’ changed the way some people in this town approach their music selections now,” the Oklahoma native said. “They’re not as afraid. Five years before, I was told [those songs would] never work.”
Keith co-wrote “I’m Just Talkin’ About Tonight” with Scott Emerick, who shares five writing credits on Keith’s new album, Pull My Chain. Emerick was on hand to celebrate his first No. 1 song.
DreamWorks chief James Stroud — co-producer of the track — helped present the awards. Songwriters Bobby Braddock, Mac McAnally, Red Lane, Bob DiPiero, Shawn Camp, John Scott Sherrill and about 100 guests were present to offer congratulations.
“I never take my No. 1’s for granted,” Keith said. “I really had some times where I didn’t have [full] support and really had a battle with each single.”
Signaling that industry support, Keith is nominated for top male vocalist and top song (“How Do You Like Me Now?!”) at the 35th annual Country Music Association awards on Nov. 7. He will perform “I Wanna Talk About Me” on the CBS telecast.
“Being on the award show, being able to perform, is the most important thing, because people’s perception of you is very important,” Keith says.
“If you’re up there with the likes of Tim McGraw , Faith Hill , the Dixie Chicks and Garth Brooks , then you’re perceived as that much. But if you’re just sitting in the audience on the fifth row — nobody gives a damn about that.”