I've heard the question a few times, "Is Billy Ray Cyrus a one-song phenomenon?"
I don't think so. There are singers and there are unique talents. Billy Ray is definitely a unique talent along with the stage presence, appeal, etc.
Garth Brooks has some of the same qualities, but in a little different character. Garth is a master of "nailing" a song with a combination of feeling and voice inflections. Reba McEntire and George Jones, one of the granddaddy masters, also pull it off in their own styles. Garth, on the other hand, exhibits a lot of physical energy on the stage during his performance.
Billy Ray, similar in some ways, exhibiting the physical energy (though more so in the hillbilly rock dance mode) on stage, also adds energy to the vocal reminiscent of what Elvis Presley did. But, like Elvis, he doesn't use the heavy inflections, if you will, in the vocal.
I remember the first time I heard "Could've Been Me" (written by Reed Nielsen and Monty Powell) on the radio. I heard this energized voice singing a song with a great title. I turned the volume up, not knowing who the singer was, because I liked the energy and feeling that the artist put into the song.
There are a lot of excellent vocals around, some of them not unique enough to be different from someone who's already made a name for themselves, but Billy Ray Cyrus has made his name known and I'd say it's a good bet he'll be around for a few more hit songs and a few more headliners on the "long haul."
Tricia Walker, jazz, country and gospel singer/songwriter with Crossfield Music, will present a writer's workshop with a question-and-answer session, and will sing some of her songs for those in attendance on Saturday, Feb. 13., noon to 2:30 p.m.
Walker has cuts on Grammy-nominated LPs by the Imperials and Debby Boone. She also wrote "Ride This Train," a hit for Mel McDaniel, and "Looking In the Eyes of Love" recorded by Patty Loveless, among other hits.
Bring a tape and lyric sheet of your song if you want a critique. Free for Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) members, and $5 for non-members, at Deer Park Church, 1733 Bardstown Rd., Louisville. For more info, call (502) 452-1996.