Steve Wariner 'Steals' His Chance At Freedom

Excerpted from the magazine for

With the release of his new album, "Steal Another Day," Steve Wariner joins the ranks of country artists who have taken control of their careers by establishing their own labels. "It's a great challenge," Wariner admits of launching his career as an independent artist on his own SelecTone label, but says, "I've always been up for a challenge."

Such an undertaking is a plan Wariner says he and his wife/business partner, Caryn, have considered for a long time. "We talked about doing this way back... when 'Holes in the Floor of Heaven' happened," he says, referring to his hit single, which won the Country Music Association's single and song of the year awards in 1998 and the Academy of Country Music's song of the year award in 1999.

Before taking the plunge himself, Wariner says he had been keeping an eye on Charlie Daniels, Ricky Skaggs, and other artists who were successfully operating their own labels. Wariner calls both artists "great role models for me on this. Those guys are doing great. They have a great fan base and are very organized. You can tell they know their audience."

Wariner has nothing but praise for his prior label home, Capitol. Even though he says he had a lot of freedom there, he felt it was time to strike out on his own. "After I left Capitol, I was writing a lot of songs, and I started making a lot of demos for other people," Wariner says, "but the more I thought about some of these songs, I knew they were my songs, and the demos really turned into the record. [The first single] 'Snowfall on the Sand' was one of those songs that I really felt was mine." The song is No. 52 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.

Since Wariner debuted on RCA Records in 1982, he's been one of country's most consistent hitmakers and versatile talents. "Steal Another Day" is a rich musical effort, with songs that run the gamut from traditional country to blues-influenced numbers. All were a product of the freedom Wariner felt in calling the shots.

"If I was on a big label, you might not see a few things that are on here," Wariner admits. "Being the captain of our own ship I think affords us [the opportunity] to put a few of these songs on here and do a few things that we normally wouldn't otherwise."

As an example, he points to "There Will Come a Day," written for his stepdaughter Holly, who is diabetic. "It really speaks from the heart, and it speaks for a lot of parents who have children that are afflicted with a disease," Wariner says. "It just speaks from a parent's point of view about a child... I don't know if that would be on one of my albums if [it] were on a big label. It's so personal and so leftfield. I certainly wouldn't have 16 songs on the record, I know that for a fact."

Wariner is pleased to report that "There Will Come a Day" has been adopted by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. "They fell in love with it, and we gave them the song to just do whatever they want with it," he says. "We are talking about possibly a book and some other things, and the proceeds will go directly to diabetes research. I think there's some good that could come out of this that maybe otherwise wouldn't have found its way."

The album contains 11 new songs and five previous hits, including "The Weekend," "Where Did I Go Wrong," and "Some Fools Never Learn," which were reproduced faithfully, many with the same musicians he used on the first recordings. The collection demonstrates the Grammy-Award winning artist's multiple talents as a singer/musician/songwriter. (In addition to penning his own hits, he has had songs cut by Clint Black, Keith Urban, and Garth Brooks.)

"I'm just really grateful to get a chance to still be doing this all these years later," Wariner says. "I thank the good Lord that the well isn't completely dry yet. I can still write a song here and there. So far, everyone has welcomed this with open arms."

Excerpted from the Feb. 22, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the members section.

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