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Arts & Entertainment An interview with country music star Darryl Worley

Darryl WorleyArtist performing at SMCPA this Friday

On Friday night, the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts will be filled with the sounds of country music when Darryl Worley takes the stage at 7:30 p.m.

The country music star, who is known for hits such as “Have You Forgotten?,” and “Awful, Beautiful Life,” will be coming to Franklin, an area of North Carolina he is closely familiar with.

“We travel all over in the Smokies and we love it there,” said Worley on Wednesday morning. “My wife is from West Virginia so we pass through from time to time; it is absolutely beautiful country.”

According to the singer songwriter, he is looking forward to his concert at the performing arts center, because he prefers the smaller, more intimate crowds.

“Once you have done the big music festivals with 50,000 to 100,000 people, you have kind of done it all,” he said. “Those shows are more diverse and have a larger variety of people, but I really enjoy the smaller settings. I like venues like the performing arts center because you can see the people in front of you. The county fair atmosphere and smaller venues have really been the bread and butter of my career.”

Worley, a Savannah, Tenn., native, said that if country music hadn't panned out for him, he would have continued down the path of becoming an outdoor guide of some sort.

“If I hadn't started writing and singing country music, I would have wanted to be a hunting guide, or maybe a fishing guide, really just anything outdoors,” said Worley. “That is where I was headed when I kept being plagued with the aching to sing and write, and I would probably still be doing that today.”

Worley lives in Nashville with his wife and daughter and serves as the ambassador for many charitable events, including the Tennessee River Run. The River Run is one of the most artist-identified, and longest running annual event. All proceeds benefit the Darryl Worley Foundation which serves special needs of people living in West Tennessee, Northwestern Alabama and Northeastern Mississippi in addition to research for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Le Bonheyr Children's Medical Center, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Darryl Worley Treatment Center.

Worley says he gets most of his inspiration while at home with his wife and daughter. His family being the driving force of what influences his music, he tries to get home whenever possible. In addition to his family, Worley said his musical style is shaped by the artists he has grown up listening to. “I am a huge Merle Haggard fan, and I really liked Keith Whitley,” he said. “My work is reminiscent of that stuff, I think my music has pieces of them mixed in with me trying to do my own thing, and hopefully it works and people like it.”

Worley is a tireless performer for American troops at home and overseas. In 2002, he visited Afghanistan, Kuwait and Uzbekistan, which helped inspired his biggest hit and favorite song, "Have You Forgotten?" He has been back nine times since then, playing both full band concerts and special acoustic sets at remote Forward Operating Bases for troops who rarely receive celebrity entertainment. Different members of his family have served in the military over the years and he feels that entertaining our troops is both a privilege and a duty for him. Worley has been honored with the VFW's Americanism Award, the USO Merit Award, and the U.S. Army Appreciation Award. He has also been cited by the Tennessee House of Representatives for his contributions to country music.

Although he has had numerous hits throughout his career, Worley said his first album, “Hard Rain Don't Last,” still stands as his favorite. “I am still partial to my very first album, but I don't think that I have ever done anything that was makeshift or rushed,” said Worley. “I always take my time and try to produce a quality album for my fans to enjoy.”

Worley said he is looking forward to the release of his newest album “One Time Around,” which is due out in March 2013. The album is eagerly anticipated by his fans and Worley calls the new album “as strong a project as I’ve ever put together.”

Although he doesn't plan to slow down his music career, he does plan to venture into more of a television setting in the near future. “We have a couple of outdoor shows in the works, I am excited to be able to branch out a little bit,” said Worley. “I want to do more song writing and make a transition there. I also am excited to work on a couple of reality TV pilots that we have coming up.”

Worley will perform at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts in Franklin, on Friday, Sept. 28. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. and tickets range in price from $22 - $25.

To purchase tickets to any performance at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts, to get more information, or to see a schedule of coming events, go to GreatMountainMusic. com or call (866)273-4615.


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