Kathy Troccoli Interview

Since the release of her debut album in 1991, Kathy Troccoli's star has been on the rise! Her hit Everything Changes came from that debut album. Appearances on The Tonight Show, Entertainment Tonight and Live With Regis and Kathie Lee followed. Even Michael Bolton and Jay Leno asked Kathy to open their shows. Not bad for someone who learned to sing from her sister's copy of Carole King's Tapestry.

Kathy's latest release is simply titled Kathy Troccoli (RCA Records).

Q. I didn't realize it, but as a recording artist, you've been out there for 12 years now.
A. Right.

Q. And your very first record Age to Age went platinum, a first by a solo artist in Contemporary Christian music.
A. Well no, actually the first record I did was called Stubborn Love, and it was the fastest selling debut album, which was really cool at that time. Age to Age was a platinum record that Amy Grant did that I co-wrote a song on. It was the first record on Reunion Records. I had moved down to Nashville through Amy Grant's managers. They tried to get me a deal in the gospel market and they couldn't. At the time, gospel music was no where near where it is now. They liked my voice, but they really didn't know what to do with this New York girl with this low voice, and so Dan and Mike (Amy Grant's managers) started Reunion because they couldn't get me a deal. It turned out to be just a wonderful thing, 'cause it really sold well. Then Michael W. Smith was the second artist on that label.

Q. Aside from the fact that you're a good singer, what accounts for the success you've had? Were you just in the right place at the right time with the right stuff?
A. I think it's a number of things. Everybody's story is different. It is all timing. It is talent. It is the right people that are gonna back you, to have the vision for you, hand in there through the development phase.

Q. Long before you attended the Berklee School of Music, you knew you could sing, so what did going to that college do for you?
A. I really went to college only because my mother passed away at the time. She wanted me to get an education. I was much more into getting out there and performing. I didn't really want to go to college, but because she wanted me to get an education, I kind of said let me find the school that is gonna give me...that is gonna meet my needs. My high school teacher at the time said Berklee Jazz School in Boston was great because it was very contemporary and very jazz oriented. I didn't want to study a lot of classical, although later on, I studied classical voice. At the time, I wanted something more contemporary. So, I went there and it was really good, not necessarily so much for voice, but I learned a lot about theory and chords, and writing, which kind of kicked in about 6 or 7 years ago when I really started putting my pen to the paper and started writing. So, I would say it did that for me.

Q. Where did you get the idea to move to Nashville? Why not the Big Apple?
A. Because Dan and Mike Blanten were based out of Nashville and they heard a demo tape of me. They flew out to my house in 1980. They were just forming together. They were gonna manage Amy Grant. They told me and my Mom, "we really believe in you, and we'd love for you to move down South," and that’s how I got there. I probably never would've chose to go to Nashville. The first couple of years were very hard, because I was a Long Island Italian girl, and I got thrown in a very hard adjustment period, adjusting to the South, and the type of music I was doing.

Q. Did you have to work a day job?
A. Yeah. I worked as a hostess for like six months. I worked in a little bookstore down there also.

Q. What instrument do you use to compose on?
A. I play a little guitar and piano in concert, especially in my gospel concerts. But, for the most part, unless I'm really, really moved and motivated, I like to co-write with keyboarders. I've written several songs on keyboard and guitar by myself. Being a singer, I have the access to not only working on a melody like anybody else would songwriting, but understanding my range and understanding where I would want to take the songs. So, it works out good, if I get a good keyboarder, because if they're great at progressions, and they're great at chords, which I'm not, I'm just a basic keyboarder, they can kind of take the song where I want to go.

Q. And do you have somebody who writes with you regularly?
A. Right now, I got a big deal with Sony Publishing in Nashville. They hooked me up with two different people, and that was great, 'cause I'm kind of testing the waters right now and trying to find consistent co-writers although two guys in particular have written consistently with me. Once you find a real match, it works out great, 'cause then you don't have to cut through all the like...it's sort of like marriage, you got to get to know each other. It helps going into a writing situation, because you're not feeling like you're walking on eggshells hurting somebody's feelings. It's a very intimate thing when you co-write.

Q. You are the National Spokesperson for Life Teen. What is that organization all about?
A. Life Teen is an organization based out of Mesa, Arizona, a Catholic Church called St. Timothy's. I do pop and gospel music, so I get offers all the time, and I got this offer to sing at this church in Mesa. They said there were 1,300 teenagers at this six o'clock mass. I was just like, wow. I went there to sing for these kids. What they're doing at that church is amazing in bringing teenagers back into the church. I was so excited, and into it, that I talked to the priest there and he invited me to be the spokesperson. So right now, there's this Life Teen Program. It's really just organized to ignite the teenagers and their faith, to help them understand what it is they believe. There's 300 parishes involved, and 30,000 kids. I got invited to sing for Pope John Paul when he comes to New York, at the Papal Mass.

Q. Did you ever sing in a rock 'n' roll band?
A. Yeah. As a matter of fact in high school I did. I used to sing 'Yes' songs. Like Yours Is No Disgrace. I sang at this talent, variety show in ninth grade, through this teacher I dedicated this CD to. She believed in my voice so much, she got me in front of an audience. I got so many offers after that. A couple were just these rock 'n' roll guys. I mean hair down to their waist. I didn’t have that type of choice. I always loved the ballad and the torch songs. I was into pop music, but, it was exciting for me at the time. I had never done it before...to do some of the dances they had on Friday night. So, that's where I sang that stuff. It was kind of fun.

Q. How about Michael Bolton and Jay Leno?
A. That was this new era. That was after Pure Attraction came out, and I still traveled a lot. Everything changes. I was getting a lot of offers. I got to open for Michael Bolton. I split a tour with Celine Dion. I was also on the Tonight Show and Jay Leno was very complimentary, and liked my voice, and asked me to do Caesar's with him when I was on the show. So, that was a great opportunity. I went out there with my band, and did five nights with him. That was great.

Q. What's the toughest thing about singing for a living?
A. I'd say two things; it's the ups and downs of what happens in a career. Sometimes when you have a 9 to 5 job, you know what you're gonna deal with, when you get into your job. You know what you're hired for. With what I've chosen to do for a living, you don't really know how your next single is gonna do. You don't know how your tour is gonna do. You wonder who is gonna produce your next record. You know, it's just a lot of different variables involved that can just cause more anxiety. I think the hardest thing for me is I'm such a homebody. I love to be home. I love decorating my house. I'm an antique lover. It's being away. It's being on the road so much. The pros about it are I to get to see so much of the beauty of the world. I get to meet wonderful people. But, I'd like a little more stability as far as being home, but thank God, I have a good extended family. Both my parents are gone. I'm very close with my sister, and I have incredible friends. I have an incredible church that I go to when I'm in town. That all brings me that stable kind of feeling.

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