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Deborah Evans Price Talks Sixth Installment of 'Country Faith: Love Songs' Series

Deborah Evans Price and Phil Vassar
Courtesy of Deborah Evans Price

Deborah Evans Price and Phil Vassar

Country music and love songs have long had a close relationship, and that unique bond is celebrated in a new CD release that will no doubt kindle many a Valentine’s Day memory for couples this season and beyond: Country Faith: Love Songs. At least that’s what journalist Deborah Evans Price, who organized the collection, hopes.

“This is so exciting for me. I can’t believe it’s the sixth release in the Country Faith series,” the CMA Award-winning writer, who frequently contributes to Billboard, said. “We were thinking about different projects. We’ve done Volumes One and Two, as well as Hymns and Patriotic collections, and one of the subgenres of country music that I have always loved is faith-based songs with a romantic twist. There are so many of them. We started making a list of songs that we thought would make a great collection,” she said.

One of the tracks from the set that has a special place in Price’s heart is “Make My Life With You,” a song The Oak Ridge Boys took to No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs charts during the Valentine's Day season of 1985.

“When I got married to my husband Gary in 1985, we used the song at our wedding. One of my friends did the song. She was no Duane Allen, but she did a wonderful job,” Price noted with a laugh. “Even when I hear that song today, it makes me cry every time. Gary Burr wrote it, and I think it was one of his first cuts. When I interviewed him for the first time and told him, he said, ‘Don’t tell me that. Every time someone uses my song in a wedding, I get scared that if they get divorced, it could have been my fault.'” Including the song on the disc is also important to Price because of her close relationship with the Oaks.

“I'm blessed to count them as good friends. When I broke my back last year and had surgery, Duane Allen called to let me know he was praying for me, and that meant the world. I've been an Oaks fan since I was a kid and still can't believe I actually know these guys."

One artist that she got to witness the development of first-hand was Tim McGraw. Price was in the audience when she heard the singer perform “Don’t Take the Girl” -- also on Country Faith: Love Songs -- in 1994.

“I remember seeing him do this song at the Country Radio Seminar, and everyone knew he was going to be a star. His first hit was ‘Indian Outlaw,’ which was polarizing, but it got him on the New Faces Show. He comes out and does that song, and everybody just knew he was headed for big things.”

Over the course of a career that began over three decades ago in the world of country radio before she traded in a microphone for a typewriter, Price has gotten to interview a who’s who of celebrities. Still, there are a few that stand out. She recently had an opportunity to chat with Today show host Kathie Lee Gifford, whose “He Saw Jesus” appears on the collection. Price said the conversation was quite emotional.

“I had never interviewed her before. I talked with her about a children’s musical that she had written and this song, which she had co-written with Brett James. It’s her experience in losing [husband] Frank [Gifford] to a sudden heart attack one Sunday morning. They were getting ready for church, and he was waiting in his favorite chair. She came in and he was gone, but he was smiling. She just knew that he had seen Jesus. To be able to put that experience into song was so incredible. She’s just a delightful person. When you talk to her, you feel like you have known her forever.”

Another emotional track on the set is Joey + Rory’s heart-wrenching “When I’m Gone.” Price said the two had a special bond in common. “We had the same oncologist. I had been treated for cancer, and I remember sitting in their kitchen and bouncing [Joey and Rory's daughter] Indiana on my knee and the two of us talking about our cancer experiences. At that time, they thought they had gotten everything, and she was OK. It just breaks my heart that she didn’t make it. She was a beautiful soul -- inside and out. Everyone that she touched just loved her.”

Country Faith: Love Songs is available wherever music is sold and also in an exclusive edition at Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores, which she says has been a great partner to work with. “They have been a tremendous partner for Country Faith -- they carry the CDs and have done well with them. I was in a meeting with them and brought up what we were thinking about doing, and they really liked the idea. They thought it would do really well with their clientele,” she says, adding that the two consumer bases are very much alike. “I think there is a lot of common ground between the Country Faith audience and the Cracker Barrel customer. These are people that love country music, love a great meal, and appreciate faith and family values. Our customer is their customer.”

Look for more Country Faith releases on the horizon, as well as details about the first Country Faith Cruise, set for 2019, coming later this year.

Country Faith: Love Songs track list:

1.  Just Another Day In Paradise — Phil Vassar
2.  God Made Me to Love You — Wade Hayes
3.  Deep As It Is Wide — Eric Paslay
4.  God Made A Woman — Jerrod Niemann
5.  Thank You — Keith Urban 
6.  Love Can Build A Bridge (Radio Edit) — The Judds
7.  Don’t Take the Girl — Tim McGraw
8.  Love Like Crazy (Radio Edit) — Lee Brice
9.  Because You Love Me — Jo Dee Messina
10. I’m Your Man — Randy Travis
11. Make My Life With You — The Oak Ridge Boys
12. Love Wins — Love and Theft
13. When I’m Gone — Joey + Rory
14. He Saw Jesus — Kathie Lee Gifford

Cracker Barrell exclusive tracks:
Selah -- Bless The Broken Road
Shane Owens -- God and The Ground She Walked On

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