CATCHING UP WITH: JOHN CONLEE
In four decades of recording, John Conlee has cut some timeless tunes, including "Backside of Thirty," "Common Man" and his 1978 signature song, "Rose Colored Glasses." But he declares he's never been prouder of a single than his latest - an ode to military families called "They Also Serve."
"There have been so many songs aimed at the people serving in the military, and rightfully so," notes John. "But to my knowledge there hasn't been one that comes from the perspective of the family members, and they deserve to be honored as well. In many cases, they are losing the breadwinner and the main support system when they go overseas."
The song, written by Nashville tunesmiths Jerry Holthouse and Tony Seibert (both of whom are Country Weekly staff members), is a powerful and touching tribute to the sacrifices that families make when duty beckons a loved one.
"They Also Serve" actually appears on John's new album of gospel songs, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, which features such standards as "The Old Rugged Cross" and "Peace in the Valley."
"I'd wanted to do a gospel album for a long time," explains John. "The first music I was ever exposed to was in church, singing hymns with my family every Sunday. But then I extended the idea to include patriotic songs, just to see what would come in, and that's how I found 'They Also Serve.' I really got lucky on that one," he adds with an amiable laugh. "It hits people in a strong way."
Earlier this year, John released John Conlee Classics, a collection of his all-time greatest hits, plus three new tracks. That CD and Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus are available in stores and online at johnconlee.com.
"I will get to work on a new country project soon," promises the 58-year-old singer. "And I'm still touring and playing the Grand Ole Opry, which I love doing."
John also loves being his own boss as head of his own record label, RCR. "I have more control," he admits. "People don't mess with me too much, like they would at a big label - and that's the part I really like."
- Bob Paxman