WHO'S NEW... JOE NICHOLS

The Impossible Dream

Joe Nichols didn't write his inspirational debut hit, "The Impossible" -- but he did live it. In the song, Joe sings about being 13, watching his idolized father crying upon his grandfather's death -- details that really hit home to Joe.

"My grandfather really did die when I was about 13," he says. "And my dad was a tough guy, and he really did take that very hard. So when I heard that, I said, 'Oh wow!' Everybody in my family asked if I wrote that song, and said, 'No -- I wish I did, though!'"

The song, written by Kelley Lovelace and Lee Thomas Miller, that connected with Joe so strongly is doing the same with fans across the country -- including his 3-year-old daughter, Ashelyn. "Every now and then, she'll hear 'Daddy's song' on the radio," he says proudly, "and it's a very cool thing to hear her sing it. She knows the words, too!"

It's appropriate that little Ashelyn sings for her dad, since Joe himself first caught the musical bug by singing at a family get-together at age 14. "I sang a tune and everybody went, 'What the heck is that?'" he chuckles. "That was when I got a hankerin' for it. I liked the attention!"

He began performing around his hometown of Rogers, Ark., before moving to the bigger city of Fort Smith, 79 miles south. There he released a self-titled album on an independent label in 1996, but soon began to set his sights higher. "I started from the ground up again," he recalls, "and moved to Nashville in May '97."

Joe quickly scored a record deal after arriving in Music City, but got lost for years in a corporate shakeup and eventually parted ways with the label. He finally hooked up with a new record company, which is set to release his album Man With A Memory this summer.

"It's really country," Joe says of his upcoming CD. "It's similar to Alan Jackson's early stuff, or Storms Of Life by Randy Travis."

Joe, who recently made his Grand Ole Opry debut, hopes to stick around as long as folks like Alan and Randy.

"I want to continue to do this for as long as I have a passion for it," he declares, "and eventually retire at a reasonable age and spend time with family -- after I'm done with this music thing!"

--Chris Neal

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