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Up From The Bottom

At one point in his life, T. Graham Brown wasn't content to just sing the blues -- he thought he had to live them, too.

During the mid-1980s, no one mixed country and soul quite like T. Graham, particularly on No. 1 hits like "Hell And High Water," "I Tell It Like It Used To Be" and "Don't Go To Strangers." His voice was also heard on Taco Bell's popular "Run For The Border" ads.

But instead of savoring success, T. Graham lived on the edge. "I started drinking too much and partying too much," he confesses. "I was the life of the party -- or at least, I thought I was."

Actually, he was killing his career and his marriage to wife Sheila -- until he sought help. "About four years ago, I got really straightened out," says T. Graham. "Sheila stood beside me, and now I don't drink or anything. But ... " he adds, bowing his head, "it was a really hard learning experience."

He candidly detailed those personal struggles in his 1998 comeback hit, "Wine Into Water," a song about a man who asks for heavenly help in overcoming his alcoholism. Now T. Graham is all the way back with a new album, The Next Right Thing, due this spring.

"It's got some really interesting songs," he says. "There's one I wrote with Bill Anderson called 'Which Way To Pray,' about a girl who was abused as a child and is now an abused wife. I've never had one like that before."

Mostly though, The Next Right Thing sticks to the T. Graham trademark -- stone country with a shot of rock and blues.

But definitely no preaching! "There's nothing worse than a reformed ... whatever," he says with a booming laugh, "who wants to shove their message down everybody's throat. I just don't believe in that."

He does, however, believe in positive thinking. "Like that old gospel song says: 'Keep on the sunny side of life.' You do that," affirms T. Graham, "and every day will be a great day!"

For T. Graham these days, every day is a sunny one. "I've played the Grand Ole Opry a few times," he says, smiling. "And it's great to still be making records. That's all I want to do -- be a solid citizen and make the best music I can."

-- Bob Paxman