Thursday, 06 August 2020 01:40

WYNN - Country Music Memory Lane - Sylvia

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A great listener Lisa sent me a message stating when she was 7, her favorite song was Nobody by Sylvia.  She asked if I played it on the radio and if I remembered her. Yes, and very much yes.


Sylvia was a huge sensation in the early 1980's.  She had an incredibly, powerful and versatile voice that sounded as good on stage as on albums.  She was very likeable, more than beautiful, and helped Country through a big transitional period. She came to Nashville young, wanted to be a big star and ended up one.  We should all thank Sylvia for her great career, we needed her at that time.

She worked as a secretary for record producer Tom Collins in Nashville who produced Ronnie Milsap and Barbara Mandrell and others.  She auditioned for the Country group, Dave And Sugar. (They were kind of the country version of Tony Orlando and Dawn).  But Sylvia ended up signing with RCA, who at that time had many of the biggest stars.  And she would end up with some of the best songwriters in Nashville penning songs she would record.

Ohio State Fair - One Of My First Really Big Emcee Gigs!  About 1985 


She broke through big in 1981 with a terrific song I loved, Drifter,  which went #1. That album also had Tumbleweed, which is a song I loved too,  and The Matador.  She was singing many songs from the longing, or forlorn perspective, and it worked very well. It made her very real, and it was a great strategy.  But no one could have imagined the next few years. 

Drifter - Big #1 - Got Her Noticed


Her album, Just Sylvia came out in 1982, the first single was a great song, Sweet Yesterday, (very underrated song) but the second hit was Nobody.  Nobody went #1 of course and swept across many formats and the nation with insane success. It sold a million copies very quickly, and was as big as songs could be in those days, as we could not play it enough it seemed.  She was a sensation, and won the ACM Female Vocalist Of The Year in 1983. Nobody was Grammy nominated and was the most played song on radio in 1982.

Nobody - Huge Hit!


The album that followed was Snapshot, and even though the title song was a top 5 hit, it didn't capture the magic of Nobody.  Many times the gigantic song can be a blessing and a curse in the long run as it can be tough to follow.  Also, Nobody, as great of a song as it was, and as much as it was needed to draw attention to a format that needed some, it really was not a "country song."  It was a wonderfully written country story song, sung by a great country story song singer, but it was wrapped in a very pop sounding musical blanket. But that was the trend in those days for many.  But, it is also a fantastic example of the right person, singing the right song, at the right time.  I can't imagine anyone else singing that song.

Fallin' In Love - A Style Change For Her


Overall there were 13 top tens, like Fallin' In Love, Cry Just A Little Bit, I Never Quite Got BackLike Nothing Ever Happened,  but Country was starting to go in a very different direction. By the mid and later 1980's Holly Dunn, The Judds, and Patty Loveless were a more traditional style and sound and they were coming to join Randy Travis, Dwight Yoakam, Keith Whitley and other new traditionalists. The pop sounding, crossover intended country style was fading.

 Tumbleweed - Beautiful Early Ballad


But Sylvia was very important. She made breakthrough videos, sang big songs, and was a great young star in Country when we needed one.  I emceed her at the Ohio State Fair in the mid 80's and the crowd was gigantic. I remember talking with her at length that day as she was the first star I really had a long conversation with before her show. She gave me a lot of time and I have always been thankful for that.  We all loved her, and all these years later we should remember her and her terrific run.  Thanks for selling 4 million records too when most were not.

Well done Sylvia!

Wynn small pic

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