CATCHING UP WITH...LARRY GATLIN

Larry Gatlin returned to his native Texas over a decade ago and now he's revisiting his first musical love-gospel.

In 1992, Larry Gatlin left Nashville for Austin with his wife Janis, a houseful of furniture-and a sour attitude toward Music City. "I was mad at Nashville, because I wasn't having hits, and the record label was trying to tell me what songs to sing," recalls Larry. "I told Janis that it was time to go back home to Texas."

And now, life is more sweet than sour. Larry's settled down to a mostly laid-back routine: writing songs, hitting the area golf courses-"only on days that end in y," he cracks-and attending University of Texas football games. He still tours with brothers Steve and Rudy as Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers, the trio that ruled the charts in the 1970s and '80s with such hits as "All the Gold in California" and "Broken Lady."

Living in Austin also allows him to play granddad -daughter Kristen, her husband and 4-year-old granddaughter Parker live nearby and visit often. Parker, who Larry affectionately calls "the light of my life," actually inspired a children's book that Larry wrote last year, Boogers and Snot: A Grandfather's Story.

But what's truly lighting up his life is the gospel album he recorded with Steve and Rudy, Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers Sing Their Family Gospel Favorites. The album features "Amazing Grace," "I'll Fly Away" and many more gospel standards.

"That's our first love, that's where our roots are," explains Larry. "Our vocal harmonies come from singing gospel music in our hometown church, and we've always mixed in gospel tunes in our shows."

Gospel's bringing even more "good news" for Larry. This year, he's slated to host a talk/variety show on the newly launched Gospel Music Channel called Larry's Place.

And it'll actually be done from . . . Larry's place! "I have an area in my home where we can do a very intimate show," he notes. "We have very high hopes for it."

No question, then, that Larry made the right move 13 years ago. "You know, I could have stayed in Nashville and become a bitter old man, trying to still make it on the charts," he confesses, waving away a strand of still-wavy hair. "But that would have been counterproductive. "Now," he adds with a smile, "I am a very happy camper."

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