Teea Goans

Teea Goans

Angela Talley

Country music artist Teea Goans smiles brightly when asked about being called a "keeper of the country flame." The Missouri native, who has just released Memories to Burn, her third album, simply considers herself lucky to be in a position to possibly introduce younger listeners to artists such as Gene Watson (the title track was a 1986 top 10 for the singer), Larry Gatlin or Ray Price. In that sense, might Goans be the female Marty Stuart?

"I don't know about that," she tells Billboard, but just being compared to Marty Stuart is very humbling. "I think what he does, or what Emmylou [Harris] did to an extent, was serve as a preservationist, and make people aware of the music so it's not forgotten -- not just for those who have heard the songs before, and loved the music, but to open up to a new generation who has never heard this kind of country. It's a way of saying, 'Hey guys, what you have is cool, but there's also this other side with the foundation that it's built on.' I think it's just important we never forget that."

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The singer said she hoped to choose some classic songs from the past, though she admitted that she and Terry Choate, her producer, wanted to dig a little deeper. "We had an idea in mind that there are so many people out there who love traditional country music, and are not getting it. We just wanted to put this album out there as a gift to those people that are still wanting that and love those songs. We went out and found songs that you hear on the radio and you think, 'Oh, my gosh. I forgot about that one. Where's that been?' So, we found songs like that, and tried to put our spin on them and released them out into the world."

Goans -- a former on-air personality at Nashville's historic WSM-AM -- also counts herself very fortunate to have been able to establish relationships with many of the artists she admired growing up. Whether it be via performances on the Grand Ole Opry, The Midnight Jamboree, or frequent performances on such television programs as RFD-TV's Larry's Country Diner or Country's Family Reunion, many legends are likewise fans of her talent. Still, when the phone rings, and it's a country icon on the other end of the line, Goans says she can't help but become that kid again.

What's it like to become friends with those she has looked up to all her life? "The best way I can explain that is to say that it's like walking into a dream that you've had so many times -- or a room where there are people that you have looked up to your whole life, and they know you by your name. You're friends. The other day, Jeannie Seely called me on the phone, and no matter how many times that happens, when her name comes up on the caller ID, I think, 'Really?' It's very surreal, and I don't take one bit of it for granted. To have the support of your heroes far surpasses that of the critics. That's all you can ask for," she says humbly.

She hesitated to single out one legend above the rest, as far as making an impact, but says that Ray Price did cast a magical spell on the singer -- as both a child and as an adult. "His career really spoke to me," she admitted. "When I first started working at WSM in 2008, the very first event that I worked was a Ray Price show at the Ryman. I had never gotten to see him perform before. That show -- and seeing him perform, and the crowd's reaction -- hit me so strong. I thought knowing that he was never afraid to do the music that he loved -- regardless of what was happening at the time. He did what he loved, and what he felt was right for him. That's what he built his career on."

And doing what she loves -- even if out of the mainstream -- is something that Goans takes a lot of pride in. "My dream has come true. Everything from this point on is icing on the cake. This is the life I've dreamed of as a kid -- living in Nashville and singing country music. I'm doing that. I couldn't ask for anything more than that. It's a great feeling, and every day when I wake up, I just thank God that he let it happen. It's so hard to describe, but it's totally fantastic."