John Corbett

Actor takes a stab at the role of country music star.

He's best known for playing such television characters as the quirky Chris in the Morning on "Northern Exposure" and Aidan on "Sex & the City," as well as the fish-out-of-water groom in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." But John Corbett has saddled up a more challenging role: rising country music star.

Corbett's upcoming self-titled album will be released April 4 on his own Fun Bone Records, which is distributed by Navarre.

Last week, the album's lead single, "Good to Go," entered Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart at No. 48. It now holds the record for the highest debut by a new artist on an independently distributed label during the Nielsen BDS era (1991-to-present).

It's a feat Corbett has been envisioning for years.

"It's not a new thing," he says. "It's not like I learned to play the guitar last year and just started writing songs and thought, 'Oh, I'm gonna make a record now.'"

Indeed, Corbett has been steeped in music since a very young age. His family owned a live music club that was just blocks away from West Virginia's Jamboree USA, the second oldest country music venue after the Grand Ole Opry, and Corbett later owned the Phoenix club in Seattle.

After years of casually singing and playing guitar with friends and at the Phoenix, he got his first true taste of the music industry when he was asked to be a presenter at the 2004 CMT Flameworthy Awards in Nashville.

"That night I met all these interesting people," Corbett notes. "They just seemed like people I went to high school with. I just felt like you know what? I can fit right in here. It was a totally natural transition."

Soon after that, he spent almost a year in Music City recording his album, which features such well-known songwriters as Bernie Taupin and Hal Ketchum.
Although far from the first actor who has wanted to crossover into music, Corbett is certainly a trailblazer when it comes to making a full-time commitment to the endeavor.

"My road band left other bands to come do this," he says. "They said, 'What's gonna happen to us in two months when you get an offer for a movie?' I said, 'I'll take two years off from acting, I won't do one single thing. Let's see how far we can take this thing.' I thought that was a pretty good amount of time to give it 100% [and] to see where we ended up."

Even after taking some 20 years to dig his heels into Hollywood, Corbett thinks of himself as more of "a singer who's done some acting."

"If you put the two on a scale -- workin' on a movie or out ridin' around with my buddies playin' music every night, drinkin' beer and laughin' our asses off -- [acting is] not that tempting," he laughs. "I'm having the time of my life. It's a new hotel every night, a new restaurant, a new bunch of people in a new town who've never heard our songs before. I meet 'em all after [the show] and they take me to their local bar. I feel like I'm 17 years old."

In the past six months, Corbett has opened for ZZ Top, Lisa Marie Presley and Charlie Daniels. He calls it a "tough gig," and acknowledges that a majority of those who come to his headlining shows are fans of his acting. But he sees that as an advantage.

"If we play a 600-seater, there's 579 women and maybe 18 dudes who were probably dragged along with their girlfriends or wives," he says. "By about the third song, I think they get used to the idea that the guy from 'Sex & the City' is singin'. Then they just start diggin' the music."

He also admits that already having a famous face has helped him get his foot in the door in other ways.

"I know how hard it is for new artists to get their songs played, so I can't really say it's tough workin' from the ground up 'cause I got a little leg up. I'll admit it's probably a little easier for me to get my record played than it is for [other] new artists [because] radio guys want to talk to me about 'Sex & the City' or 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding,'" he says.

So far, all signs point toward a new career path for Corbett, who has no qualms about putting acting on hold indefinitely.

"If I get lucky and in two years I can support me and four other dudes [in the band] by just playing music, that would be the greatest thing that could ever happen," he says. "I'm not saying I won't ever [act] again, but I'm like a kid in a candy store with a gun right now. Give me all that candy and the money!"