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Tammy Cochran talks about dreams, divorce -- and a new hit

The crew is hired, the cameras are in place - and Dad's shirt is holding up the proceedings. Life, as Tammy Cochran's new song says, happens. At this moment, it's happening at a movie-rental store in rural Hartsville, Tenn., where Tammy is shooting the video for her new hit, "Life Happened."

Her parents, Delmar and Mabel Cochran, were just here to watch, till the producer suggested they should be in the video. But Delmar isn't dressed for the occasion.

"My dad, being the proud father that he is, is wearing his Tammy Cochran T-shirt," Tammy laughs. No good, says the director. A more camera-ready shirt is found, and Delmar is soon ready for his brief appearance as a video-store customer.

While their inclusion in the video was a last-minute decision, Tammy's parents may provide a magic touch. After all, they appeared in the video for "Angels In Waiting," Tammy's first big hit. "I thought this would be really cool," Tammy says. "Like Alfred Hitchcock -- some little cameos that we keep doing."

Of course, the "Angels In Waiting" video also featured home-movie footage of its inspiration, Tammy's two brothers, who died of cystic fibrosis. "It just made me feel like my brothers, who were always so supportive of me in my music, were still being just as supportive -- even though they're not here to share it with me," she says. "I feel like they brought me to this party in the first place."

And now it doesn't look like the party will stop -- Tammy just finished recording her second album, which will feature "Life Happened." She even removed a song from the album to make room for it. "That's how incredible it is," she says.

"Life Happened" is a thought-provoking look at how real events sometimes sidetrack people's dreams. It celebrates lives that work out well, even if they don't work out as planned.

"It's great when dreams you have as a kid come true," she says, "but a lot of times they don't. And that's OK, because you realize that you are where you are because that's where you're supposed to be." Tammy's dreams could easily have been dashed entirely. She spent seven frustrating years in Nashville after leaving her native Ohio, trying to find her way to stardom. During that time she got married, but that relationship ended in divorce.

"There were lots of times that I thought about giving up, because it's so easy to get discouraged," she reflects. "I'm glad that I got married -- and I'm glad I got a divorce. I'm not trying to be rude or mean, but I think it's helped make me who I am.

"Because of that experience, I think I'm a better songwriter. And I think I'm better at interpreting songs, because I have lived a little bit more, and I know how it feels to hurt, and to lose someone."

Currently, there's another someone in her life. Tammy's been seeing a Tennessee factory worker for two years, and, while she'd like to be happily married, she's also grown cautious enough that "happily dating" is fine for now.

"We're not rushing into anything," she insists. "I made a big mistake once, so we've both decided to just take it one day at a time."

Marriage or no, Tammy still has family around. Mom and Dad are there for her, much as they are in this new video. They live only three miles from her house outside Nashville, and help with domestic chores when Tammy's on tour. "Neither one of them can sit still for very long," she says with a smile. "I come home after being gone all week, and my house is clean, my yard's mowed, my dog's washed, my laundry's done. It's a beautiful thing!"

--- Tom Roland