Deborah Evans Price is one of the most respected journalists in the business. With a by-line that has appeared in Billboard, Redbook – among others, artists seek her out to tell their stories to. It’s something the 2014 CMA Media Achievement Award winner takes seriously. She has covered everyone from Dolly Parton to Charlie Daniels to Carrie Underwood. She tells Sounds Like Nashville that one of the most interesting topics that she gets to discuss with the stars from time to time is their faith.
As author of two books in the Country Faith series, she gets a chance to hear the artists tell her about the role that God has played in their lives. “Country and Gospel music have always been cousins,” she says. “There’s so many Country artists who started out singing in church or even recorded a Gospel album, or put a Gospel song on their projects. So, there’s always been that connection. In approaching artists to be in the books or on the CD’s, it’s been great because a lot of Country artists don’t have the outlet to talk about their faith. With ‘Country Faith,’ I feel we have given them the platform to talk about what their faith means to them and their relationship with God. That’s something they don’t get a chance to talk about when they are promoting the new album or the new tour.
Price is likewise excited about the second volume of the Country Faith music series, which is available for purchase now. The set includes tracks from artists such as George Strait and Lee Ann Womack, and Price is excited to be a part of the release.
“There are so many wonderful songs on here that I love like Brooks & Dunn’s ‘Believe,’ Luke Bryan’s ‘Pray About Everything,’ Brad Paisley and Dolly with ‘When I Get Where I’m Going,’ – all of which are such incredible songs about faith,” stated Price, who got her start in Country Radio. Though several of the songs on Country Faith, Volume 2 have been released before, there are a few undiscovered gems. “There are also a couple of really cool things that I’m excited about that people might not have heard. There’s a wonderful new artist that I just love named Drew Baldridge. The first time I heard his album, I was drawn to a song called ‘Tractors Don’t Roll’ that I love because it is so visual. It’s painting a picture of a small town on a Sunday when the tractors are all parked and people are honoring the Sabbath. It’s such a great song. It’s on the new volume, and if people don’t know about Drew yet, they need to. I think they will love him and the song,” she says, beaming.
Another track comes from one of the favorites of 90s Country fans, Wade Hayes. “He has such an amazing voice, and is such a nice guy. There’s a song from one of his previous albums called ‘What’s A Broken Heart For You,’ that is a really powerful song. It just reminds me that God is watching out for us no matter where we are or what’s happening, he’s always with us. I think that’s something that we all need to hear.”
In addition, there is also a deluxe edition of the album available from a place that has worked with Price on the Country Faith brand before – Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores. “They have always been really good to ‘Country Faith,’ and on the new CD that you purchase there, there are a couple of exclusive songs. One is from American Young (“God Sends A Train”), and another one from Mo Pitney (“Give Me Jesus”).
When asked how the Country Faith series started, Price said that “A guy named Bob DeMoss, who used to work at Zondervan Publishing, came up with the original idea. One of his jobs at the company was to come up with ways to better engage people into reading their Bible. He thought that if there was a book where Country artists were talking about their favorite scripture, that would appeal to Country fans, and maybe inspire them to spend a little more time with the Good Book. That was the seed that started the brand. My literary agent knew that he was looking for a writer to do that book, and he put us together in a meeting.”
For Baldridge, he is simply proud to be a part of a project that he believes in so strongly. “This is amazing for me. When you’re an artist and you’re doing interviews, you don’t get a lot of chances to talk about your faith very much. When I made my first record, I wanted to put a song on there about God and my faith. Something so good as Country Faith allows you to use the platform that you have for something bigger than yourself. I had a scholarship to go to college and play baseball, and I prayed about it a lot. I turned it down to come to Nashville. I just thought this was what God wanted me to do. This was one of the steps in life that made me realize that I made the right decision. It’s so awesome to look at the CD, and see John Michael Montgomery, Drew Baldridge, and then Brooks & Dunn. ‘Believe’ was one of my favorite songs growing up. I watched the video, and was blown away by the lyric of the song. To think that I have a song on the same CD as that is mind blowing.”
In discussing “Tractors Don’t Roll,” his contribution to the project, Baldridge said “I just knew I wanted to write a song about my small town, and how I spent my Sundays. I was writing with my friends Monty Criswell and Tim Nichols. We sat down and agreed that we couldn’t make this like any other Sunday song. I told them that in my hometown, tractors didn’t move on Sundays. Monty looked at me, and said ‘Why don’t we just write that?” It turned into ‘Tractors Don’t Roll.’ Every one of those lines is about my life, how I grew up, and my hometown of Patoka, Illinois. I grew up in a Church of forty or fifty on an average Sunday, in a town of six hundred people. So, the part where the old man falls asleep in the pew was something that really happened. It was just one of those things that took me back home.”
While Baldridge admits that he never found out if the man at Church found out that the singer-to-be knew of his sleeping habits, he smiled and said “His wife knows I caught him. He has actually passed away now, and I got to go home and play that song at Church. His wife came up, and said ‘If Charlie knew that you put that in your song, he would just die. It’s all true, from my mom talking about hoping the food didn’t get burned. That’s all real life stuff. I think that what makes a great Country song is when you can put real life into it. I grew up in the Church, and I love Praise and Worship songs, but it’s so great when someone sits down and writes a Country Christian song. It’s a real life situation, and the song is real life for me. I think everyone across the country has lived a ‘Tractors Don’t Roll’ Sunday. I’m so excited that I get to be a part of something so great.”
Click HERE to purchase Country Faith Vol. 2.