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.
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
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
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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