The Center Presents: An Evening With Clint Black
The Palladium // Sunday, Oct. 24, 7 p.m. ET
In a career spanning three decades, Opry member and Grammy-winning country superstar singer and songwriter Clint Black has scored 22 No. 1 singles, nearly two dozen gold and platinum records and countless other awards with a style rooted in country tradition.
Black’s 1989 album “Killin’ Time” is one of the great debuts in country history, selling over 3 million copies and spawning five No. 1 singles, including the title track “A Better Man,” “Nobody’s Home” and “Walkin’ Away.” Last year, the Texas native released his 23rd album, the self-produced “Out of Sane,” featuring nearly all original songs.
When he is not touring and working in his studio, Black is hosting and coproducing a new series, “Talking in Circles with Clint Black,” which premiered on Circle Network on Saturday, May 22.
Be sure to purchase your tickets before they sell out at thecenterpresents.org.
Janelle Morrison: We are looking forward to your show here in Carmel! How great is it to be back on tour?
Clint Black: I say it every night on stage, “What is this strange thing of people all together like this?” It’s fantastic! You tend to count your blessings when you regain them. It’s been great—we were a little rusty at first, but we got back to our norm pretty quickly.
JM: Are you noticing anything different with the audiences as in a different kind of energy or vibe now that we’re allowed to gather again?
Black: The first couple of months [on tour], it was really striking. I’d say we’re all kind of settling in now. There were a couple of places recently where we were their first show back, and it was noticeable how happy people are. I’ve had friends come out for shows, and they’ve commented on how great it is to be out hearing live music again.
JM: Almost immediately after this tour, you will be going on tour with your wife of 30 years, Lisa Hartman Black, for the Mostly Hits and The Mrs. Tour. Is this the first time you will have toured together?
Black: Yes, it is, and we’re really excited. We have a special show planned, and our daughter [Lily] is joining us. She’s pursuing a music career, so this is going to be a great experience for her and the three of us traveling together. We’ll finish this [current] tour at the end of October and I’ll take about four days off, then we’ll go into rehearsals to get their parts of the show worked out, and then we’ll head out [on tour] right before Thanksgiving.
JM: Let’s talk about your latest album, “Out of Sane.” This is an independent project that you worked on last year. Share with me a little bit about that process and the irony of the album title coming out of 2020.
Black: “Out of Sane” is my attempt to do a better job of making a record, and I think I did that. It’s a collection of songs, so there isn’t anything behind what’s on [the album] other than I tried to put the best material that I have written on there and make it a dynamic album. I play a lot more electric guitar on that album—more than I’m used to playing—on purpose. I’ve been pushing myself that way to be more expressive in the making of an album. I produced it myself and did some of the engineering, but I got the last song on there, literally closed the mix, the day before everything shut down in Nashville. The album was accidentally named “Out of Sane” appropriately for 2020, but that was always my title, and the cover was always going to be the cover, but how perfect was the timing? We also put the album on vinyl, which is the first vinyl record I’ve done in decades.
JM: I’m curious, which do you prefer—acoustic or electric when writing and performing?
Black: Typically, when writing, it’s an acoustic guitar and a legal pad unless I’m doing something that’s driven by the groove, in which case I’ll pick out a good drum groove that I will then play to on an electric guitar. I enjoy both equally, but I’m newer to the electric guitar and anything newer is a little more exciting. I like to push myself on the electric guitar and have created things to do in the show that are very challenging and just within my reach. I have to really be on my toes to pull it off every night!
JM: I’ve seen some of your Willie Nelson impressions, and they’re incredibly uncanny and on point. Is it true that you’ve been doing that since you were 13?
Black: I started doing it out of a love for his music and his voice. I used to do other impressions of Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young and Mark Knoplfer. I’ve always been kind of a mimic, so I would learn a song that I really loved, and I could be disciplined and do it as me, but the temptation is always there to put a mask on and be them.
JM: I saw the interview where you were talking about the results of your DNA test, and you had found out you had 1% sub-Saharan African in your DNA. You were talking about the melting pot that is our nation. As we progress into the future, post 2020, do you see country music being impacted further by the melting pot phenomenon that is the American people?
Black: I’m not a great student of country music history, but I pay close attention, and the one thing that you can see throughout its history is that it’s always evolving, so we never know where it’s going. But I think the idea that the [country music industry] might not have been inclusive before—which I’ve heard that criticism—I think that is long gone.
JM: How difficult is it for anyone to break into country music today?
Black: I know one thing to be true about the entertainment industry in general—there are very few slots and there are way too many people for those slots trying to break in. It’s hard to get into this business no matter who you are and what you look like. I’ve seen very talented people who just could not get a break, and that can be discouraging. I think it’s easy for someone to look at why they’re not making it and personalize it.
A friend once said to me, “Sometimes when things don’t go our way or when something bad happens to us, most times people aren’t doing something to you, they’re doing something for them. When you have managers, executives and agents all trying to do something for them and their companies, it has absolutely nothing to do with you who are.” Perseverance is a must in this industry, but it’s not always enough.
JM: As someone who absolutely functions on coffee, I am interested in the fact that you have started a coffee company—Clint Black Cowboy Coffee—during your hiatus from touring AND you’re producing and hosting a TV show, “Talking in Circles with Clint Black.” Tell me more!
Black: You can find my coffee at clintblackcoffee.com and my show, “Talking in Circles with Clint Black,” is on Circle Network. We’ve already aired season one, which you can still stream, and we’ve gotten halfway through taping season two. It’s really fun! It’s me interviewing one guest artist per episode, and we talk about things that interest us and have the kind of conversations that we [as artists] typically have when the cameras are off. It’s a little bit of silliness and great guests in front of a small audience.
JM: What would you like for your fans to experience when we come to see you at the Palladium in October?
Black: We’re trying to play these songs the best that we’ve ever played and to make a connection with the audience. We’re there to entertain you and to have fun with it. We’ve got stage screens, and I did the video myself to make more of a personal expression to share with the audience. We will have a good time and hope the audience will sing along when we ask you and even when we don’t. We want everyone to relax and have fun. It’s an intimate show, and I’ll be a bit more talkative than I would be at a festival show so we can all have a few laughs.