What you see and what you hear is what you get with country newcomer Shane Stockton. That's precisely how the young Texas native singer wants you to get him. At 23, Stockton is undeniably the "real deal" when it comes to singing and writing country music.
With no frills, glitz or stars in his eyes, Stockton latched on to a music career simply because the music
is so deeply planted in his heart and soul. It's obvious throughout his Decca Records debut disc, Stories I Could Tell,
which features his first single release, "What If I'm Right," one of the best country ballads of the year and his current
"Gonna Have To Fall."
"I didn't start singing to meet girls," he admits. "I didn't start singing to get a record deal.
I started singing because music is my life."
Stockton was raised on music in Breckenridge, Texas, just west of Ft.
Worth. The son of a music-loving mother and a Baptist preacher, who's an avid gospel singer, Stockton befriended the guitar
at the age of six but neither took the instrument nor his musical talent serious until a few years later. He thanks his mom
for assisting him with the realization.
"When I was nine, I had come home and my mom had been cleaning my room," he
remembers. "She said 'I've cleaned your room all day and you better start keeping it clean and if you don't start playing
that guitar I'm throwing it away!' I just freaked out, went in there, grabbed my guitar and started tuning it and trying to
remember the chords that I knew. I haven't put it down since."
In addition to his guitar, Stockton also garnered much
of his love for music by listening and learning from his long list of idols. "I was always listening to Jimmy Rodgers, Lefty
Frizzell, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Roger Miller and Johnny Cash. Looking back on all of them now, they're all singer/songwriters.
Those were the guys that I was really drawn to, not so much the guys who were just singing back then and didn't write."
idol for the country music-loving Stockton was, believe it or not, Elvis Presley."Everything he did was magic," Stockton proclaims.
"He was just so committed to every song he sang. He lived with it all of his life. When I really got into Elvis was about
1980. My brother had brought home a couple of videos -- Aloha From Hawaii and Elvis On Tour -- and I just watched
those things over and over and over. I loved watching how he moved and everything. Then I would go to my room and try to do
the same moves," he laughs. "Elvis was about 41 years old, weighed over 300 pounds in a white jump suit and was still the
coolest guy in the world. He never lost his voice and the talent that God gave him. It just never failed him. I would hope
that people would say that about me someday."
Country fans are saying that about Stockton, who penned every cut on
his debut album, with the exception of one song that he co-wrote. Such a feat is undoubtedly a rare accomplishment for any
new artist. Another fan of Stockton, Buck Owens, who also happens to be the young entertainer's biggest music hero of all
time, agrees whole-heartedly. Having opened several shows for George Strait during his recent Country Festival Tour, Stockton
and his band were invited to Owens' Crystal Palace club in Bakersfield, California to play a few songs. They were already
in the area to do an opener for Strait. "He wrote me a two-page letter telling me how much he liked the CD," tells Stockton.
Playing at the Palace by Owens' request was thrilling enough, but when he was invited by the legend to chat in his
dressing room and then even join him on stage later for a duet, his nerves began to wreck. "By this time, my heart's in my
throat and I'm trying not to cry," he admits. "It was pretty freakin' amazing. I don't really get nervous that often -- I
get antsy. But man, I was scared to death. We sang 'Tiger By The Tail' and Buck was singing harmony and I'm standing there
and looking over at him and thinking 'Oh my God, Buck Owens is singing harmony with me." As far as my career goes, it's definitely
been the highlight."
The highlights seem to keep hitting for Stockton these days. He makes his singing debut on the
Grand Ole Opry Saturday, June 13th. One of his even earlier highlights, however, was hearing about his family watching the
video for his "What If I'm Right" release.
"We don't have CMT in the town where I live," explains Stockton. "We've
got a ton of cable channels, but we don't have anything good like CMT, VH-1, The Comedy Network. So when my video premiered
on CMT's Delivery Room, nobody at home could see it. So they've got that direct TV set-up down at the Wal-Mart and
my parents went there early that morning and had them turn on CMT. There were probably 15 or so people all standing around
watching. I think that's so funny and can just imagine hearing 'Attention Wal-Mart shoppers! Shane Stockton's video is playing
in the electronic department!'"
Stockton's family has long supported his love for music, even when it meant the singer
turning down football scholarships or playing the bar circuit at a very young age.
"Dad was a Baptist preacher, but
he was okay with me playing the clubs. He knew I wasn't going there to pick up girls or get drunk. He knew I just loved the
music. But there were some other preachers in town who wouldn't let me sing at weddings or funerals and stuff at their churches
because I played in the bars.When I was about 12 or 13, I started playing the Opry circuits around Texas, which is where you
go places and play a few songs and get paid maybe 20 bucks. I would sing some Buck Owens and Waylon Jennings and stuff like
that. Then I put this little band together for a spaghetti supper at my high school. We were so bad," he laughs.
his teen years, Stockton played the clubs, wrote songs and later won the Texas statewide Future Farmers of America talent
competition. The victory led Stockton into the music publishing world and eventually back and forth to Nashville to learn
even more. Within a year of his first Music City visit, Stockton had snagged a recording contract, valuable lessons about
the business and the realization that if he couldn't be "real" and remain true to himself and the music he grew up with, none
of it was worth it.
Throughout his teen years, Stockton played the clubs, wrote songs and later won the Texas statewide
Future Farmers of America talent competition. The victory led Stockton into the music publishing world and eventually back
and forth to Nashville to learn even more. Within a year of his first Music City visit, Stockton had snagged a recording contract,
valuable lessons about the business and the realization that if he couldn't be "real" and remain true to himself and the music
he grew up with, none of it was worth it.
"I just kept going back to those guys I listened to when I was growing up
-- Rodgers and Haggard and all of those guys, who's music was just so powerful. I knew that was the kind of music I had to
do. I feel like that I'm not a hat act," he continues. I do wear a hat and I'm an act, but I'm not a hat act. I've worn this
hat since I was 11 years old. It's just a part of me and it has nothing to do with my music. I hope that people see that my
music is real. If I'm looking for one thing that separates me I think that it's the music that needs to be what separates
me. Forget what's on my head and listen to what's on the CD. We didn't go in to cut a line-dance song or a cookie-cutter diddy
or anything like that. We went in to cut real traditional country music. And every cut on the album has some resemblance of
the guys I grew up listening to like Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard or Buck Owens.
While the music that he grew up loving
and is now making seems to be taking Stockton on a whirlwind ride of a lifetime, it's the same family roots, morals and honesty
that he grew up with that still most important. Stockton has a seven-year-old stepson named Blake and a brand new son, Aaron
"Hands down, the most important thing to me is my family, my wife and my kids," the humble singer admits.
"Secondly, I'd have to say the integrity of my music and keeping it real is important, and I would say the third most important
thing to me is the way I treat people over all. But fatherhood is incredible. It's changed everything. Besides there being
another person in our family, it's really brought us all closer together. Our house just has harmony oozing out of it now."