Trisha Yearwood Signs With Big Machine Records

Moving From MCA Nashville, Her First Album for Indie Label Will Come in 2008

After 16 years with MCA Records, Trisha Yearwood has signed with Big Machine Records, the independent label home of Taylor Swift, Jack Ingram, Jimmy Wayne and Danielle Peck, among others. Yearwood made the announcement Thursday (May 10) at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville.

Yearwood said she will continue to work with Garth Fundis as her principal producer and expects to have her next album out in 2008.

Kyle Young, director of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, opened the press conference by reading from a 1986 application to work at the Hall of Fame submitted by “Patricia Lynn Yearwood.” Under the “special skills” heading, Young said, Yearwood had written that her ultimate goal was to be an entertainer and that she liked to be “around people.”

“So,” said Young, “we hired her at four bucks an hour.” He added that Yearwood is now a member of the Hall of Fame board.

“Today’s very much about the future — the future of an amazing and gifted artist,” proclaimed Big Machine president and CEO Scott Borchetta. He explained that he first met Yearwood at now-defunct MTM Records, where he was just getting his start in radio promotion and she was “masquerading as a receptionist” and working under her then-married name, Trish Latham.

One day, Borchetta continued, she gave him a cassette of a demo she had cut and asked for his opinion on it. He said he was greatly impressed by her voice but soon forgot about her when she announced she was leaving MTM to sing demos full time.

In 1991, Borchetta relocated to MCA Records where, in the course of getting acquainted with the labels new artists, he saw the name Trisha Yearwood. It meant nothing to him, he said, until he went to a recording session and discovered that Trisha Yearwood was the same woman he’d known as Trish Latham.

Borchetta stayed with MCA Records — and promoted Yearwood’s records — until 2005. Yearwood’s last album for MCA, Jasper County, came out that same year.

“Today’s a celebration and a projection of what Trisha and Big Machine are going to do,” Borchetta said. “Trisha Yearwood is a terrific artistic brand. … Today, she moves to the front of the class.” (The clear implication in Borchetta’s last remark was that the singer had been neglected in her later years at MCA.)

Looking trim and youthful and sheathed in jeans and a pink Tennessee Titans jersey with the number 10 emblazoned on it, Yearwood then came forward to give her assessment of the new deal and to answer questions from the reporters.

She began by saying to Young, “Kyle, there’s one small correction. I think it was $3.65 an hour — not $4.”

Yearwood recalled that it was exactly 16 years ago to the day that she made her first television appearance. It was on Ralph Emery’s TNN show, Nashville Now, to promote her first single, “She’s in Love With the Boy.” She remembers the occasion so well, she noted, because it was also the day her niece was born.

Given that Yearwood has sung with artists of other genres, ranging from Don Henley to Luciano Pavarotti, a reporter asked why she still chooses to identify herself with country music. “I do think I can do other things,” she replied, “but I know what I do best.” She added that she still hopes one day to record an album of “standards.”

Yearwood said she would also like to sing in a Broadway musical and, indeed, had once been approached about stepping in for Reba McEntire when she left the cast of Annie Get You Gun. But working on Broadway, she pointed out, would require her to move to New York.

“That’s complicated by my living with an Okie,” she joked, alluding to her marriage to Garth Brooks.

While she did not rule out performing or recording with Brooks eventually, she said she doubted he would be involved in her forthcoming album.