Daryle Singletary arrived in Nashville a tad too late, not because of procrastination, no simply because of his age. When he arrived as a 19-year-old, the sound of Music Town USA started meandering away from singers who actually could phrase and stretch country-lyrics to another dimension. What once defined a great country music singer in the tradition of Lefty Frizzell, George Jones or Vern Gosdin to younger protagonists like Keith Whitley or John Anderson and got to a certain degree a rebirth with the neo-traditionalists who carved their niche in the late 80s and early 90s like Randy Travis or Tracy Lawrence, started to get phased out by radio, megalomaniac arena shows and a switch to lowest common denominator pop-country.
As so many newcomers in town, Cairo, Georgia-born (*3/10/71), Singletary started singing open-mic nights and found work as a demo singer. And it was him singing a demo of "An Old Pair Of Shoes," by Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer Jerry Foster (with Art Masters and John Morris), that landed in the hands of his idol Randy Travis. Not only did Travis record the single for a Greatest Hits Compilation, he and his management helped Daryle get a contract with Giant Records and Randy helped co-producing the self-titled debut album with James Stroud and David Malloy.
Daryle made his debut in the charts (#39/95) with the Bob McDill - Tommy Rocco composition "I'm Living Up To Her Low Expectations," a lovely play on words Honky Tonker:
He fared better with the Tim Johnson composition "I Let Her Lie" (#2/95) which took him into the Top-Five for the first time; he did so two more times with the uptempo romp "Too Much Fun" (#4/95) by Jeff Knight/Curtis Wright) and "Amen Kind Of Love." (#2/96 by Trey Bruce/Wayne Tester), latter from his second Giant album "ALL BECAUSE OF YOU."
He reached the Top-Thirty one more time, with "The Note," a Buck Moore/Michele Ray composition originally recorded by Conway Twitty a dozen years earlier, and even though the song peaked at #29, it was also the only song that crossed over into the pop singles charts (#90/1998). By then Neo-Traditionalism had found its end and two more singles from his third Giant album "AIN'T IT THE TRUTH" failed to crack the Top-Forty and Singletary was let go.
From 2000 on, Singletary recorded mostly cover albums for a variety of labels, like Audium/Koch, Shanachie, and E1, but due to the changing radio environment, was never able to get enough airplay to chart in the lower Top-40.
But he continued to tour and play to live audiences, who still love traditional country music, like last Friday in Alabama and on Saturday in Louisiana. (A great example is also the included video at the bottom of the blog, offering a whole concert clip.)
On his website, Singletary is quoted: “I’ve been fortunate to be able to always keep it real and not have to compromise.”
Last year he got together with the Queen of Bluegrass, Rhonda Vincent and in the tradition of country-duet albums, they recorded "American Grandstand," a fine album of mostly older cover-songs, I gave 4 1/2 out 5 stars. Even though a pure country album, due to Vincent's association with Bluegrass, the disc entered the Bluegrass Charts and stayed for three weeks on the top position.
Singletary is survived by his wife Holly, and four children: 7-year-old twin boys Mercer and Jonah, 5-year-old daughter Nora Caroline and 3-year-old daughter Charlotte Rose as well as his parents. Our thoughts and prayers are going out to his whole family.
Daryle Singletary Live at the Capitol Theater - February 9th, 2017
Sources: Fox News, Variety, Instagram, DaryleSingletary.net, Billboard, BMI