CATCHING UP WITH: JANIE FRICKE

'80s hitmaker Janie Fricke still feels the tug of Nashville, but couldn't be happier on her Texas ranch

About 25 years ago, Janie Fricke and her husband Jeff escaped the bustle of Nashville for the quieter life of a ranch near Dallas. And Janie's never regretted the move - well, maybe every now and then.

"Most every year, I come back to Nashville for the CMA Awards, and it's always so exciting!" she says with enthusiasm. "There's so much activity, and I see a lot of my old friends. That's when I start to get nostalgic."

As a two-time consecutive winner for Female Vocalist in 1982 and '83, Janie has good reason to be sentimental. During that early-'80s heyday, no female could boast a better track record than Janie, who had eight No. 1 hits, such as "Don't Worry 'Bout Me Baby" and "It Ain't Easy Bein' Easy."

Though her chart-topping days may be over, Janie has continued to stay busy touring, and this past year released two new albums: Tributes to My Heroes and Live at Billy Bob's Texas - My Greatest Hits. Both CDs are available on Janie's website, janiefricke.com.

"I recorded the tribute album at our home studio," says Janie. "My husband Jeff did the production and all the engineering. The first cut is Johnny Cash's 'Ring of Fire,' which we recorded before Johnny died. "

When she's not cutting tracks or hitting the road, Janie tends to the family ranch, which she dubbed "Texana," a combination of Texas and her native state of Indiana. It's peace but not always quiet.

"We have too many animals for that," Janie laughs. "We've got donkeys, chickens, dogs, cats, horses - and we love it!"

Janie also runs a successful side business, Janie Fricke Collections. "I design pillows and throws, and sell these pieces to decorators and local shops," she explains. "It gives me a chance to create, and it's also a great separation from music."

Janie feels blessed when she reflects on her career. "I still have my awards at home," she says warmly. "It's great to look at them and remember all those wonderful times." And at times, she even thinks about moving back to Music City. "I do miss Nashville, and wish I was in the loop a little more," Janie admits.

She pauses and smiles. "But that farm and those animals keep calling me - what would I do without them?"

-- Bob Paxman

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