Trisha Yearwood Touring ‘Just Because,' Writing Third Cookbook, and Recording New Album

Trisha Yearwood performs with Alabama at the Ryman Auditorium on November 4, 2013 in Nashville, TN

Larry Busacca/Getty Images

In the past few years, Trisha Yearwood’s career has expanded from Grammy winning country chanteuse to best-selling author and Emmy Award-winning host of the Food Network show “Trisha’s Southern Kitchen,” but when a fan recently posed the question online, “Are you done with music?” Yearwood decided to show people she wasn’t. “I’m calling the tour ‘Just Because.’ You’ll see that on a T-shirt,” Yearwood tells Billboard as she prepares to launch a 20-city tour tomorrow (2/19) in Fort Lauderdale, FL at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

“I don’t have an album out, nothing to promote and people are like, ‘Why are you going on tour?’ Because I want to,” she says with a playful laugh. “So that’s why I’m calling it the ‘Just Because’ tour. I’m not going out there to try to get somebody to play my record. I’m going to have fun and that’s coming, but for right now, these shows can just be about playing music and having a good time.”

Yearwood has authored two cookbooks that have placed her on the New York Times Bestsellers list and her cooking show is now in its fourth season. “The cookbooks and TV show have been so much fun and really great, but it’s been really time consuming.  If I’m not in pre-production, I’m in filming. And when I’m not in that, I’m in post and in time, it will be pre-production again,” she says. “And I live-tweet every Saturday morning and 50% of those tweets [from fans say] ‘I love your show, but when are you going to sing?’  Somebody posted, ‘Are you done with music? Are you just doing cooking?’ and I thought, ‘Oh I’ve got to go do some shows!’”

So Yearwood called on her old band to see who was interested in hitting the road and they all said yes. “It’s all these guys whom I’ve toured with many times so there’s a comfort there because they know my music and they know how we do shows. They know what it’s about. Even the crew people are all the same. I think we have one new person. I’m pretty excited about that. It’s like family getting a chance to go play music together, so that will be fun.”

Yearwood admits she’s always had a passion for the stage. “I really do love to perform live.  I love that immediate response. I love to sing and I love to perform,” the Georgia native says.  “When [husband] Garth [Brooks] had been in Vegas for the past two years, I’d go out with him and do two or three shows with him and it just feeds my soul.  It’s something that I can’t imagine not doing and I need to do it.  The cooking thing has been such a happy accident and such a successful second career that everybody thinks, ‘Well maybe she’s just doing that now’ and I always say, ‘I love all that. I’m enjoying myself so much because I’m doing something that I really love, but if I had to pick one it, would be music, no question.’  For me, I love being a chick singer. I just love going out there doing what I do.”

In addition to touring, Yearwood says she also plans on recording new music. “I started a record right before my mom got sick and of course put it on the back burner and after she passed away, I just didn’t really care,” says Yearwood, whose mother Gwen died Oct. 1, 2011. “I didn’t have any desire to do anything for a while and then that desire came back and I went in with Garth Fundis and did some more things. Where I’m at now is I have six or seven things recorded, but it’s very disjointed because it’s been done over the course of two and a half years. It’s different periods in my life.”

Yearwood and Brooks plan to tour together in the fall, so she wants to do her album this spring and summer. “Next on my list is to really sit down and figure out which of these songs to keep,” she says. “There are a couple of things in there that really do stand out. My window is now probably between April and September to really get in and get it done. I don’t know exactly what it’s going to look like. I’m listening to a lot of songs right now and I’m really loving what I’m hearing.  I think I needed to take a break to be able to listen with fresh ears because I’m hearing some really great stuff.  So I’m excited about going back in, but what I’ve learned is I really need to set aside a time to go, ‘This is the project and this getting is 100% of my attention’ rather than try to piece it in between everything else.  That’s just not working well for me. I definitely feel like if I don’t get something done before I go on tour with Garth, I’d be trying to piece something together again and I just don’t want to be doing that. I want to have something new out for that tour.  So that’s the plan.”

Yearwood’s last album, "Heaven, Heartache, and the Power of Love," released in 2007 on Big Machine Label Group. She’s currently without a label, and exploring her options. “I’m not signed with anybody at the moment, but I’m working on that,” she says.  “There are some irons in the fire, so I’m trying to figure out what is the best thing for me. There’s some good options.”

The climate for country female artists has changed drastically since Yearwood’s previous reign at the top of the charts. These days artists and labels bemoan the dearth of women on country radio. “I don’t understand. I don’t have an answer,” she says when asked why there aren’t more female artists in the upper echelon of the charts. 

Country Executives on the Lack of Female Artists at Radio

She’s appreciative of the environment she and other female acts enjoyed in the 90s. “What I loved about being a woman in country music was there was something for everybody,” she says. “There were a handful of us, probably 10 of us that were doing really, really well, but we were all a little bit different and I always thought it was easier. People always said it’s so hard for a woman, but it’s easier because if you were a guy back in the 90’s you had two choices: You either wore the hat or you didn’t. So it was hard to distinguish yourself. As a woman it was easy because your image could be so completely whatever you wanted it to be. It was an awesome time to be a woman in the business.”

As for her future on country radio, Yearwood says she doesn’t know how she’ll fare. “I know I have a fan base that has stayed with me and I think the cooking show has been great because it’s been a way for me to stay really connected with my fans,” she says.  “I think they’ll come to shows and buy records, but I don’t have any idea about radio.”

As she moves forward and makes her next record, Yearwood says that’s something she can’t worry about. “If I start trying to make a record for what I think could possibly get played on radio, I’m dead,” she says.  “If you are really going to call yourself an artist, you have to record songs that mean something to you. Of course, I want to sell records and of course I want to get played on radio, but it has to be about making the record that I’m proud of. I’ll do my very best to make sure everybody knows about it and I know my core fans will buy it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that radio will play it.  It’s just where it’s at and I don’t know the answer. . . I think there’s a place for me. I don’t know if it’s the same place of what’s happening at country radio right now, but there is a place for me and I’m okay with that. I’ll figure out where my spot is and that’s where I’ll be because I know there are people who want to hear from me and that makes me happy. I’m going to make music for those people and I’m going to find the best way to make sure and get it out there.”

Between touring, finishing her album, working on her third cookbook and filming another season of shows for the Food Network, 2014 is going to a busy year. “After I get done with this tour in April I’m going to try to get another season shot in my spare time before everything else starts up,” she says of “Trisha’s Southern Kitchen.”  “I’m going to try to get that done so hopefully there will be new shows by fall.”

Yearwood has earned three Grammys, three CMA Awards and two ACM Awards. She admits the success of her cooking show has surprised her, especially winning the 2013 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Culinary Program. “It’s the only thing I have that my husband doesn’t have,” she says of her Emmy. “It’s been actually really wonderful and I’ve been very surprised. It’s coming out of something I love to do. The show is such a reflection of me and my family and the way that I cook and our recipes. We don’t have a script. The recipe is the script, that’s why it’s so time consuming because it’s all in my head. I have to be an integral part of every conversation, what stories we’re going to tell, what recipes we’re going to use, what guests we’re going to have and how it’s going to lay out.  It’s really time consuming, but as a result I’m really proud of the shows. They are fun and people are really enjoying them. I’m as surprised as anybody. I never would have thought I’d be here talking about having a cooking show on the Food Network. It wasn’t on my list of things, but it’s fun and I’m having a good time.”

Yearwood is looking forward to touring this fall with her husband. “This could be so awesome for us to get a chance to do what we love and be together,” she says. “We’re just so sappy. We don’t do well apart and so to be able to go play music and be together every night, in the same bed and to travel together, it’s going to be so awesome.”

Though she’s looking forward to playing large venues with her hubby, she’s excited about her tour and the chance to play smaller venues.   “I love these intimate theater shows and I won’t get a chance to do for a while so I thought, ‘You know what? I’ve got a little window here, I need to go do these for me.’ He was wonderfully supportive because it’s right in the middle of soccer season and he won’t be able to go with me, but I’m only gone like two weekends out of the month. It’s not like I’ll be gone a long time. He can survive. I’ll leave him some casseroles to bake. I’m not going that far.”

Here’s where to find Yearwood this spring.

2/19/2014Fort Lauderdale, FLBroward Center for the Performing Arts


2/20/2014Clearwater, FLRuth Eckerd Hall

2/27/2014East Lansing, MICobb Great Hall – Wharton Center


2/28/2014Joliet, ILRialto Square Theatre


3/1/2014Prior Lake, MNMystic Lake Casino Hotel


3/2/2014Sault Sainte Marie, MIKewadin Casino – Dream Makers Theater


3/12/2014New Brunswick, NJState Theatre


3/13/2014Lancaster, PAAmerican Music Theater


3/14/2014Westbury, NYTheatre at Westbury


3/15/2014Mashantucket, CTMGM Grand at Foxwoods


3/26/2014Austin, TXACL Live at the Moody Theater

3/27/2014Durant, OKChoctaw Casino Event Center


3/28/2014Bossier City, LAHorseshoe Bossier City – Riverdome


3/29/2014Midland, TXWagner Noel Performing Arts Center


4/2/2014Wabash, INHoneywell Center


4/3/2014Carmel, INThe Center for the Performing Arts – The Palladium

4/4/2014Robinsonville, MSGold Strike Casino – Millennium Theatre

4/5/2014Marksville, LAParagon Casino – Mari Center


4/11/2014Windsor, ONCaesars Windsor – The Colosseum


4/12/2014Rama, ONCasino Rama

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