INTERVIEW: Kevin Skinner “Long Ride”
his songs ever since he learned the art of music from his musician father, Joe. He was temporarily employed as a "chicken-catcher" at Pilgrim's Pride, a poultry factory located on Highway 45, right outside of Mayfield, Ky. His genuine southern appeal and honesty touched the audience with his audition on the fourth season of America's Got Talent, singing "If Tomorrow Never Comes" by Garth Brooks and went on to win the season finale.
I spoke with Kevin recently to catch up with him and visit about how his life has changed and if it had changed him since the win and more importantly where he is headed.
Bev: It is wonderful to talk to you and congratulations on the big win on America's Got Talent and also your new album; all that has to be very exciting for you. Let me back up just a bit and talk about the show. What
made you audition for the show in the first place?
KS: I have always loved to play music, even as a young child. It’s in my blood; music goes way back in my family. I have been going to Nashville and singing some of my original music around town. I guess I thought “America’s Got Talent” would broaden my horizon and put me out in front of a lot of people. I think that is why I took the step and went for it.
Bev: As the show progressed, I am sure the first couple of times you sang you were nervous. Did it get easier or harder for you?
KS: I was a little nervous when I first walked out on stage, but once the judges started talking to me about things; it took the edge off the situation. Once I started singing, I wasn’t nervous at all. It got easier each time and knowing the people liked me helped.
Bev: After you won, you have your record deal now, how has your life changed overall? I imagine financially
it has made a big difference, but how has it changed you or on the other side, how has it kept you the same?
KS: As a person, I am the same old guy I have always been. When I was in L.A. and Las Vegas, the people there came to me and my band after the shows and told me to not let anyone change me, because I am from the country. I always tell them that they are going to have a hard time changing me. I would like to keep writing music and keep doing the same things that I am doing and let the fans hear my music. I get a lot of emails from people that have heard my music and like it and that always makes me feel good.
Bev: Let’s talk about the album you have out right now. Did you write all the songs on the album?
KS: Yes, I wrote all the songs on there. It was just released for download world-wide this past Tuesday. It brought a lot of emails from fans that tell me they have been hearing my songs on the radio. My first song off that CD Long Ride was “Last Goodbye” and it went well on the radio. We did a music video for that song and it’s on CMT. The fans really liked the first one and I hope we can do more of the same.
Bev: Were these songs you wrote specifically for this album or are they songs you have been writing over the years and you just had the opportunity to get them out on an album?
KS: There are some songs that I had written for this album; I guess you could say there is a mixture. I have been a songwriter for at least 12 years and I went back through the songs I had written and tried to decide if they would go good with the rest of them on the album. You have to put them together like a story when you are putting together an album. You also have to choose songs that people are going to relate to and I think I
did more than a fair job on that.
Bev: On the video, is this the first time you have done something of this nature?
KS: Yes, this is the first time I have shot a video. The guy that did it also shot some of Garth’s videos. We were about ten minutes into the shoot and he chuckled and asked me if I was ever going to do something wrong so he could give me some pointers? He said it was like I had been doing it all my life. I was glad to hear that and it made the video shoot go a lot smoother.
Bev: What was the one thing about the video process that surprised you the most?
KS: When they do the video, they use a track; the same track you have on the CD and they have the camera on a set of tracks. You are singing but it is actually the CD track when you see the video. I always wondered how they did that. It is so strange to sit there and watch it. The artist is actually singing but their voice is not being heard. They are singing under the music.
Bev: You are doing the normal promotional things but what else are you doing to let fans know about your music?
KS: I have a Facebook page but I am maxed out on the number of people there. I go on there and tell all the fans the news. Plus, we have the album available for download worldwide.
Bev: I assume it is available for download on CDBaby, iTunes, Amazon and your own website, all the customary places? Are you doing radio and TV promotions as well?
KS: Yes, they are on those sites. Lately we have been doing a lot of concerts and I have done a few interviews; mostly over the phone. I did a cooking show for CMT with Hazel Smith and I was on Roger
Raglin Outdoors on a hunting trip and I am getting ready to go do another one with him.
Bev: Are you involved with any charity work right now?
KS: After I won the show, we worked with St. Jude and we have done a benefit concert for the local church here. Any time I can get involved with something for charity, I am the first one there.
Bev: Going back to the album, is there any one song in particular that you find is closest to your heart or is more personal to you than another?
KS: There is one song, “Her Stone” that I wrote for my Grandmother. She was always the one that kept my fire burning for the music. She passed away a few years ago. She always said that someday someone would hear my music and like it. “Her Stone” is the most personal song on the CD.
Bev: As you have done concerts and met with your fans, has there been any one thing that you hear over and over, whether it is a song people like or something about your personality or something you did on the show? Something that keeps popping up over and over?
KS: We did two concerts last week and I noticed a lot of people, while I was onstage singing, their lips were moving right along, they knew all the words. We opened for Charlie Daniels and you wonder when you open for someone that big, how many people came to see “me”. When they are singing along with your song, that really makes you feel good.
Bev: So what is next? A new album?
KS: Yes, that is what we are planning on doing a lot more of, writing good songs that people can relate to and love. We are going to be out doing as many concerts as we can also.
Bev: You have mentioned Garth’s name and I know you like him, but is there any other person that you are
hoping that you can do a duet with or perform with?
KS: That is a good question. I have never really thought about that. I would be honored to sing a duet with Garth, that would be great.
Bev: Have you met Garth before?
KS: No, I haven’t actually met him in person but I have met a couple of people that are real close to him. He sent me a large autographed photo of him and Trisha and they both signed it. After I won the show, he sent a message that he was glad he sang that song first or he would be out of a job. That was an honor to get that. I am hoping to meet George Jones. I met Willie Nelson out in Las Vegas and I just opened for Charlie
Daniels. I have 8 x 10s of all those guys in my house.