Trisha Dishes on Garth and Pavarotti

Singer Also Talks About New Album, Hometown During CMA Music Fest Interview

Garth Brooks’ marriage proposal took Trisha Yearwood by complete surprise, she told fans Friday (June 10) during her CMA Celebrity Close Up interview at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. The interview series was a part of the CMA Music Festival that concluded Sunday (June 12).

Yearwood also said in spite of Brooks’ reputation for being emotionally intense, he is “hilarious” to be around. “We laugh all the time,” she revealed.

Although Brooks and Yearwood have lived together for some time, the superstar didn’t officially propose marriage until May 23 at the unveiling of his bronze statue at Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, Calif. Brooks had instructed the sculptor to include a wedding ring on his statue. She said when Brooks got down on one knee to propose she was “pretty much in shock” and oblivious to the “7,000 people” in the audience.

Yearwood noted that she and Brooks had known each other for 17 years. “I understand [that] people want to talk about this engagement,” she continued. “And so do I.”

The singer explained the long delay between albums — her last, Inside Out, came out in 2001 — by pointing out that there had been a change in leadership at her label, MCA Records, which had slowed things down. Moreover, she added, she and her producer, Garth Fundis, recorded one album they were so dissatisfied with that they discarded it. “I cut songs [for it] that I liked,” she explained, “but I didn’t cut songs that grabbed me. So we pretty much scrapped the album and started over.”

Her new album, Jasper County, which is named for her Georgia homeland, is set for release Sept. 13.

In addition to taking questions from interviewer Lorianne Crook, Yearwood also fielded inquiries submitted by fans in the near-capacity audience. She said that singing with famed tenor Luciano Pavarotti (for a 1998 PBS special) was so moving that, “I remember standing on stage and saying [to myself], ’Live in the moment.'”

Yearwood said she visits her hometown of Monticello, Ga., often and pointed out that the Jasper County album cover and its first music video, “Georgia Rain,” were both shot there.

“You can drive on the Trisha Yearwood Parkway,” she told the crowd. “It’s about half a mile of two-lane road. But it’s mine.” She also announced she will be inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame June 24.

One fan wondered which musical performance had most affected her. She recalled visiting Gatlinburg, Tenn., when she was “11 or 12” and seeing an Elvis impersonator, who, according to her mother’s description of the event, “just mesmerized me.” Although she has sung duets with some of the top stars in the world, Yearwood said she still wants to do one with Linda Ronstadt.

Yearwood had a recurring role in the TV series JAG and admitted she is still interested in acting. Asked whether she could play an evil person, Yearwood quipped, “That might be a question for Garth.”

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to