Tammy Cochran Credits Her Success to Parents

Climbing the charts with the nostalgic class reunion song “Life Happened,” Tammy Cochran indeed plans on attending her own high school gathering next year in Austinburg, Ohio. Although her peers may have dashed their hopes of becoming actresses and race car drivers, Cochran made good on her promise: She is, without question, a country star.

“My parents gave me a choice of going to college or going to Nashville,” Cochran tells CMT.com. “And I chose Nashville. They sold everything they had and they still live three miles from my house. When I’m on the road they take care of my dog and mow my yard and keep everything working in the house. So I was very lucky to have my parents be such huge supporters of both my brothers and myself. If it wasn’t for them, I probably would have given up and ran home.”

When Cochran was growing up, her mother worked as a private investigator, and her father operated heavy equipment. Her two brothers, Shawn and Alan, died of cystic fibrosis; they were Cochran’s only siblings. Years later, their short lives inspired Cochran to co-write “Angels in Waiting,” her first Top 10 hit. The song’s video is highlighted by authentic home footage of her family.

Despite her persistent optimism, even Cochran didn’t expect “Angels in Waiting” to become her signature song. Her debut album had already been delayed more than a year, and her first two singles stiffed on the charts. However, the healing ballad earned her widespread exposure, winning awards and an appreciative audience for her powerful, traditional country vocals. She also had a hand in writing four songs for her new album, Life Happened.

Life happened all right, but not without Cochran facing her share of rejection.

“When I first came to town, I was doing some demo work and had some meetings with people in the music industry. I actually had one producer in town sit across the desk from me and tell me that he wouldn’t call me if I was the last singer in town,” she recalls. “When that producer said that to me, I might have turned my tail and ran home if it wasn’t for my parents who really believed in me. That makes a world of difference.”

Cochran lived with her parents when they first arrived in Nashville, but then she fell in love and got married, and shortly thereafter, divorced. Much of the disappointment and heartbreak creeps into Life Happened. “White Lies and Picket Fences” and “I Used to Be That Woman” especially reveal the heartbreak of love gone bad, while things get bloody on “Dead of the Night.”

And despite the fact that a life in show biz can murder your personal relationships, Cochran shrugs off the notion that country stardom is hard work, at least compared to her past jobs.

“I worked lots of places,” Cochran remembers. “I worked at Service Merchandise selling jewelry, but I loved that job. Loved it. Because I held jewelry and I love jewelry. I probably spent more than I ever made in that store. I was also a telemarketer, so I probably called you during dinner. And actually I didn’t mind that job either. It was kind of fun. I sold Olan Mills Portrait Studio packages.

“And I worked at McDonald’s,” she adds. “Not my favorite job. However, I think that every young person needs to work at a fast food restaurant, at least for six months. It builds character and it teaches you to clean up after yourself. At least the McDonald’s I was in. It was like, ‘You do this, you’re done, you clean. Do this, you’re done, you clean.’ I think everybody needs that. Especially you men out there! Just kidding.”

The fast food experience also comes in handy, as she recently catered her friend’s wedding with four pans of homemade lasagna — “not nearly as hard as everyone’s making it out to be,” she says.

As most country singers turn off the road during the holidays and Christmas music slowly takes over the airwaves, Cochran is ready for her vacation.

“I’m taking some time off in December because I have literally been working since January 3rd of this year with little or no time off. So I’m looking forward to having some time off in December and spending the holidays with my family and my friends,” she says.

“I’m actually going out of town for a little bit in December, but Christmas I will be at home by the fireplace, around the Christmas tree, playing with toys.”