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Terri Clark

Much like her contemporary Shania Twain, singer/songwriter Terri Clark came storming out of Canada to capture the attention of America's country music industry in the mid-'90s. Where Twain incorporated pop hooks and elements of rock & roll into her music over the years, Clark has remained closer to her country roots, even if those roots were of a more modern variety than hardcore honky tonk. Her self-titled debut arrived in 1995 and eventually climbed to number 13 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. She followed it with several more hit records, including the follow-up, 1996's Just the Same, 2003's Pain to Kill, and her highest-charting studio album to date, 2005's Life Goes On, which peaked at number four on the country chart. Clark came into her own with her seventh long-player, 2009's The Long Way Home, which was her first to be self-produced and self-released. Cracking the country chart one more time with the self-produced Roots & Wings in 2011, her later releases include 11th full-length, 2018's Raising the Bar, which marked her debut in the Top 50 of the independent albums chart. Born in Montreal in 1968 and raised in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Clark (born Terri Lynn Sauson) came from a musical family. Her grandparents, Ray and Betty Gauthier, were country stars in Canada, opening shows for stars like George Jones and Little Jimmy Dickens, while her mother sang folk songs in local coffee houses. As a child, Terri listened to her grandparents' country records and taught herself how to play guitar. Throughout her adolescence, Clark sang, played, and listened to country music; she was particularly inspired by female artists like Reba McEntire, the Judds, and Linda Ronstadt. Following her high school graduation in 1987, she moved to Nashville. Upon her arrival, she wandered into Tootsie's Orchid Lounge unannounced and asked if she could sing. Surprisingly, she impressed the management and landed a job as the club's house singer. Though her initial arrival in Nashville was successful, it took Clark some time to work her way into the recording industry. For the next seven years, she sang at clubs and worked odd jobs, all the while trying to land a record contract. During this time, she met and married a fiddler named Ted Stevenson. In 1994, she landed an audition for Mercury Records. After seeing a live performance by Clark, the label's president signed the singer. Clark's eponymous debut album was released in the summer of 1995. Terri Clark was a hit upon its release, spawning the Top Ten country hits "Better Things to Do," "When Boy Meets Girl," and "If I Were You," and going gold. She supported the album with a tour opening for George Strait. In 1996, Clark was nominated for the Country Music Association's Horizon Award, as well as the Academy of Country Music Awards' Best New Female Vocalist. She won a bevy of Canadian Country Music Awards in 1996, including Album of the Year and Single of the Year; she was also named the Top New Female Country Artist of 1995 by Billboard magazine. Her second album, Just the Same, was released in 1996 and marked her debut in the Top Ten of the Top Country Albums chart. Featuring the country chart-topping single "You're Easy on the Eyes," How I Feel followed in 1998 and returned her to the number ten spot on the album chart. Another Top Ten country album, Fearless, arrived in 2000, and Pain to Kill went to number five upon its release in 2003. Mercury unleashed Clark's Greatest Hits 1994-2004 the next year, followed by Life Goes On in 2005. The latter tied with Greatest Hits as the highest-charting albums of her career, with both reaching number four on the country chart. Meanwhile, the hits collection went as high as number 14 on the Billboard 200 behind the success of the exclusive single "Girls Lie Too," Clark's second country number one. The singer then fought her way through personal and professional difficulties and left Mercury Nashville, consequently forming her own label, Bare Tracks, which was distributed by Capitol. Her first offering as an independent artist was the triumphal Long Way Home in 2009, followed by the DVD Live at Cedar Creek in 2010. In mid-2011, Clark moved to the independent imprint Humphead and released Roots & Wings. A covers album called Classic followed in 2012, and in 2014, she put out Some Songs, which consisted of all-original material. In 2017, Clark embarked on a tour with Pam Tillis and Suzy Bogguss called Chicks with Hits, which was meant to double as support for an album called My Next Life that ultimately went unreleased. In 2018, Clark was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and delivered her 11th studio album, Raising the Bar. The holiday album It's Christmas...Cheers! followed in September 2020.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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