Victoria Shaw Interview
(Garth Brooks)

Way, way, way back in 1989 when Victoria Shaw was just another struggling singer/songwriter in Nashville, she met another struggling singer/songwriter. They became friends and started writing together. One of the songs they write was called "The River," and in 1992, it became a number one record. Her songwriting partner was someone you may have heard of— Garth Brooks.
In the last year, Victoria's songs have been recorded by Aaron Tippin, Rob Crosby, and Mary Ann Kennedy. This past fall, her songs were featured on albums by Doug Stone, Suzy Boggus, John Michael Montgomery, and Gary Morris.
What's the story behind this very talented, not to mention very personable lady? That's what we wanted to find out.

Q. Does songwriting come easy to you?
A. It depends on what day it is. (Laughs) There are days when it's so easy, like the day I wrote The River" with Garth Brooks. That came in an hour and a half. Days like that you say, wow, I wish I could bottle that. Then, there are days when you're pulling your hair out, and you go O.K. I'm never writing again, I've totally used up every song inside of me, and I need to get out of this profession. But these (feelings; don't last very long).

Q. Would you say it's easier to write a country song, as opposed to a pop song?
A I wouldn't say easier. There's no such thing as an easy song. (Laughs) Even some of the most mindless sounding songs actually took some craft. It's just something I feel I do the best.

Q. Meeting Garth Brooks was your big break?
A. Yes. That definitely was a very big break in my life. We met about 4 years ago, maybe a little bit more. We met at a radio function down in Nashville. We were both playing in one of those suites that Uni-Star Network had. I knew his managers, and we were talking, and they said you should write with Garth. His first album had just come out. It was his first single. He really wasn't known at all. So, I said O.K. So, I walked up to Garth, and said, "Hey Garth, your managers think we should write together." And he said, "Cool." (Laughs)

Q. Just like that?
A. Just like that. So we got together and we wrote quite a bit together, and became real fast and furious friends, and really had a good time together. He's a lot of fun. I always tell him this, I always say Garth, when I do interviews and they ask me about you, first thing I say is you're very funny, because he always comes off so serious. (Laughs) But, I just remember sitting around and laughing a lot. He's very talented. Very focused. A hard worker. Even though we come from completely different worlds, we have a lot in common, especially with our dreams, which is probably how "The River" came out.

Q. Did you see the greatness in Garth Brooks then, that the world sees in Garth Brooks today?
A. I didn't know he was gonna be Elvis,. I gotta be honest with you. (Laughs) If I did know that, I would've stayed a lot closer. But, I thought he would be very successful. I though he was extremely talented. Did I think he was gonna be Elvis? Who knows those things? As a matter of fact, when we do get together, I still laugh to myself because I forget that it's Garth Brooks. It's like Garth you know. (Laughs) It's a guy that hung out at our house a long time. He used to say to me, "You make how much at your piano bars? Man, that's great." (Laughs)

Q. You started out by playing the cabaret and piano bar circuit in New York. Is it true that people like O.J. Simpson, Gary Puckett, Linda Ellerbee and David Coverdale ("Whitesnake") would come out to see you?
A. Right, if they were in town. Well, Linda lived across the street from one of the bars I played at, in Greenwich Village. She was friends with the owner, so she used to come in all the time. As a matter of fact, she drew this cartoon etching of the whole bar, for the owner Kelly. And, I think she drew this little cartoon of me playing the piano. So, she was real supportive. And, O.J. and I have become friends, and when he was in New York, he would come out and see me.

Q. Did any of these people ever offer to help you out with your career? Or, did they just say, "Hey, Victoria, you're pretty good."
A They'd be more supportive than just, you're pretty good, like you're terrific! I think O.J. did try to do some stuff , but he’s real busy I never really asked. I just thought it would happen when it’s supposed to happen. So, I didn't really look for it. They were just real supportive as friends go.

Q. When someone wants to pursue a career such as yours, there really is no set career advice you can give them is there?
A. That's very true.

Q. So we can't say, Victoria, what's the avenue you have to take here?
A. Yeah, and with my avenue, it was a lot longer than a lot of other peoples. It seems I had to go around the long way. But, I'm not exactly sure if that was good or bad, because boy, the experience I got along the way was terrific. I'm very persistent and I guess I really am the ultimate optimist, because no matter how many times something wouldn't materialize, wouldn't happen at this moment, it never, ever, ever occurred to me to give up. I just knew I had something good, and it would get it's turn. I was also very lucky to play the piano bars and make my living that way, because even though it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to be doing, I certainly am really lucky that I to make a living in my craft. So many of my friends are actors and actresses and they had to wait tables and I'm very fortunate that I never had to do that. I never complained about playing the piano bars, because I knew how really lucky I was.

Q. Do you have a record deal?
A. I'm working on that now. That's always been my goal, to get on a major label. And, I felt that the best way to do that, was to write hit songs for other people. Because, first of all, it would get noticed. And, also, when you're a woman in this business, I thought it would bring a lot more legitimacy to what I do. I'm not just this chick singer who shakes a tambourine. I just got out of the studio doing a product on myself with a producer. Put it this way, I'm a lot closer, than further. The funny thing is, down in Nashville they know me as a writer. I don't think people realize that all these years, I've made by living with my voice. So, it would be nice to go in and say, "If you like how I write, wait till you hear how I sing!"

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