Tracy Lawrence isn't a pop star -- The singer behind "I See It Now" says he's sticking with country music

By Vicki Jo Radovsky
Updated December 23, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

Tracy Lawrence isn’t losing sleep over country’s slippage on Billboard‘s pop charts. ”If some country artists choose to go pop, more power to ’em,” he says. ”But there will always be country radio formatting to keep us in our own place.” In Lawrence’s case, that would be the familiar top 10 of the country singles chart, where he recently rested with his tenth hit single, the No. 2 ”I See It Now.”

Certainly Lawrence’s twangy, fiddle-drenched heart-wrenchers and tributes to tossing back a few have more to do with pleasing the cry-in-your-beer brigade than a Counting Crows fan. Factor in the innocent good-ol’-boy persona and tush-pushing delivery, and you’ve got a gen-u-wyne honky-tonk heartthrob, who at 26 is also one of country’s fastest-rising stars. ”I’ve had a lot of success picking commercial radio tunes,” admits the singer in a drawl as thick as day-old grits. ”But that could totally change.”

Not likely: With Lawrence’s third and latest album, I See It Now, going gold in less than two months, a live greatest-hits CD in the works, and 200 tour dates planned for 1995, his luck shows no signs of quitting. And should any odds be tossed in his way, Lawrence has a history of beating them. After performing locally in his teens, he left tiny Foreman, Ark., (pop. 1,200) for Nashville in 1990 in a battered Toyota with expired tags, no insurance, and a jerry-rigged fan belt. With no connections, he landed a record deal in just nine months. Since releasing his debut, 1991’s Sticks and Stones, he has survived an armed robbery in which he was shot four times, bad business associations, and near bankruptcy.

Then again, nothing sells in country like a soap opera. That and a cowboy hat — the ubiquitous accessory some critics have attacked him for donning. ”I’ve been wearing a hat since I was real young,” he insists. ”It’s part of who I am.” Just ask the folks back in Foreman, who recently named a street after their local hero. ”The main strip through the middle of town,” Lawrence notes. ”Just go down to the E-Z Mart and take a left.”

And though Lawrence enjoys the attention, he and his wife, Frances Weatherford, a former rodeo competitor who’s expecting their first child, are also wary. Since hitting the big time, Lawrence kin have miraculously multiplied: ”Suddenly,” he laughs, ”I have millions of cousins!”