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Down the Road He Goes to No. 1
Travis Tritt Celebrates First Charttopper on New Label
For Grand Ole Opry member Travis Tritt, No. 1 records are nothing new, but his latest, the self-penned "Best of Intentions," may be the most important of his career.

"I appreciate this one more than any of the others for lots of reasons, but mainly because [it came] after taking two years off from making records and being on the radio," Tritt said. "You definitely spend some time at home biting your nails, wondering if the next time you come out you will have the chance to come back and get to anywhere close to where you were before."

A leather-clad Tritt was as giddy as a kid at Christmas as he celebrated his latest success Wednesday (Nov. 15) at a Nashville party thrown by his new label, Columbia Records. The Sony Music imprint signed Tritt when he left Warner Bros. in 1999. The singer released seven studio albums and one greatest hits collection on his old label, including the triple-platinum It's All About to Change and double-platinum records Country Club, Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof, T-R-O-U-B-L-E, and The Restless Kind. His last Warner Bros. project, 1998's No More Looking Over My Shoulder, did not sell as well. The highest of three charting singles, "If I Lost You," peaked at No. 29 on the Billboard country singles chart.

In between recording deals, Tritt took time off to spend with his wife, Theresa, and their new baby. He regrouped, wrote new songs and crafted Down the Road I Go, his first collection on Columbia. Tritt credits the success of "Best of Intentions," the album's first single, to his new label and its promotion staff.

"I really believe this is the variable between the last album and the tremendous difference that we have with this album so far," Tritt told the partygoers. "Our first record out of the box on a brand new label for us, right off the bat, boom, to go in there and be a No. 1 is more than I dreamed of."

Sony President Allen Butler said the decision to sign an established artist to a new deal was simple.

"I think this is especially important to our industry right now, as we go through so many changes and try to determine what direction our music is going to take," Butler said. "Travis Tritt is definitely somebody and someone that this business needs. He brings a credibility factor and artistic integrity that not many people in this day and age bring."

Joking that he "is not a guy who gets up on a lot of awards shows," Tritt took the opportunity to thank essential people in his career including his managers, Gary Falcon and John Goodman, as well as producer Billy Joe Walker Jr. He also expressed thanks to all the songwriters who contributed to the project, including his friend and mentor, Charlie Daniels, who wasn't able to make the party. Tritt said he had been reluctant to celebrate the song's success as it climbed the charts, instead putting up a calm facade to record label staffers and supporters.

"People would come up and say, 'We've moved so many spaces or we jumped so and so on the chart,'" Tritt said. "I was like, 'That's great, but don't get too excited yet.' I reserved all of that because I wanted to actually see the success, but now that it has happened, I can't tell you how overjoyed I am. Some people may say, 'Big deal, it's just a No. 1 record.' Well, sorry. For me, it is a big deal."

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