Best Bets: Sylvia to sing, tell stories in Smyrna

Country music performer Sylvia, who was named Academy of Country Music’s Female Vocalist of the Year and Billboard’s No. 1 Country Female Artist, both in 1983, will take part in the next installment of the Songwriters and Storytellers Series April 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Smyrna Opera House. (Submitted photo)

In 1982, hit singer Sylvia learned a valuable lesson that has carried through to today.

Wrapping up her second album “Just Sylvia,” songwriters Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan rushed into the studio with a song that they had just finished.

“It was about 2 p.m. We had already chosen the songs for the album but they said ‘We’ve got to record this.’ We tacked it onto the end of the session and did it in three takes. A week later, the Cherry Sisters added these great background vocals and the rest was history,” she recalled this week from her home in Nashville.

The song was “Nobody” and it became not only a No. 1 country song, but a pop hit as well, peaking at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also the BMI Song of the Year for most airplay in 1983.

The song earned her a gold record certification and a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.

“When I look back, I really look at it as a teaching moment. We plan everything out and we all think we are so wise to have everything figured out. But being open and spontaneous to whatever comes along can truly change your whole life,” she said.

And it’s been quite a life.

“Nobody” was actually her second No. 1 Country hit after “Drifter” in 1981. During her tenure as a solo artist with RCA Records between 1979 and 1987, Sylvia became one of the most celebrated women in country music.

She released five albums with a dozen No. 1 and Top 10 hits, sold over 4 million records, and won multiple awards including the Academy of Country Music’s Female Vocalist of the Year and Billboard’s No. 1 Country Female Artist.

She comes to the Smyrna Opera House April 12 for another in the area’s popular Songwriters and Storytellers Series along with fellow singer/songwriters Craig Bickhardt, Thom Schyler, John Mock and Smyrna’s own Sol Knopf.

Taking a break as a performer in the late 1980s, Sylvia Hutton looked to escape the grind of playing 200 to 250 dates a year and sit back and write songs for a while instead of singing someone else’s tunes.

“When I first moved to Nashville, I worked for a music publishing company. I worked with songwriters and actually I was the one who would type all of the lyrics into a database so I had a ringside seat to Songwriting 101 you could say,” she said.

“But once my record deal happened, things quickly took off and after a while, I needed time to focus my energy into songwriting and buckle under.”

Mr. Bickhardt, who wrote songs for her in the 1980s, was one of her mentors.

“We’ve been co-writing songs since about 1986 I guess. I’m a big fan of Craig’s. We have got a long history together with both Craig and Thom Schuyler. We’ve all grown up together in the music business,” Ms. Hutton said.

She made her first independent album “The Real Story” in 1996 and then did a Christmas record and the album “Where in the World” in 2002.

“It’s All in the Family,” released in 2016 was the first in which she co-wrote most of the songs, many with Mr. Schuyler.

Released last year, “Second Bloom: The Hits Reimagined,” is a compilation of the songs that Sylvia made famous, including “Nobody” and “Drifter” but updated for today’s sound.

Produced by Mr. Mock, it is a fully produced album but has more of an acoustic feel than did the original songs that were recorded in the 1980s.

“Back in the ’80s when I was in my 20s, I didn’t have much life experience. But now after having lived a lot more life, coming back to commit to recording these songs was a really interesting process,” said the 62-year-old Ms. Hutton.

“I wanted to keep what made the records special but take out the heavy synthesizer-type sound of the 80s, which I still love. But I wanted to take that core essence of the songs and update them with guitars, banjos and mandolins and make them bloom again.”

The record has been a hit and recently won the Spirit Award for Best Album and Song of the Year for the album’s closing track “You Can’t Go Home Again.”

She says she still loves singing the songs that she originally recorded more than 35 years ago, especially “Nobody.”

“It’s such a bouncy little track yet it deals with the relatively serious subject of cheating. But it has a sense of humor and lightness about it,” she said.

“The writers put such a wonderful spin on it. There’s not a superfluous word in the whole song. I think the writers saw that I had such a fun, bubbly personality and that I would be the right artist at the right time.

“It’s still in the lexicon of the day. ‘Your nobody called today,’ meaning I know what’s going on with you.”

She says she’s excited to join her friends on stage in Smyrna.

Mr. Schuyler was inducted into the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2011. He wrote songs recorded by more than 20 artists including “16th Avenue” for Lacy J. Dalton, “Love Will Turn You Around” for Kenny Rogers, and “A Long Line of Love” for Michael Martin Murphey.

Mr. Bickhardt has penned four No. 1 Country hits and nine top 10 hits for artists such as The Judds, Johnny Cash and Martina McBride.

Mr. Mock has worked with such notable artists as The Dixie Chicks, James Taylor, Dolly Parton, Nanci Griffith, Maura O’Connell, Kathy Mattea and Mark O’Connor.

Mr. Knopf is widely known in the area for his local performances and original songwriting, including the wedding staple “My Baby Girl.”

Ms. Hutton said she likes the format of a show such as this one where the artists not only get to sing their songs but get to tell the back story of how they came to be.

“I love it because the audience gets to be a fly on the wall and hear how it all went down. I’ve attended a bunch here in Nashville and I’m glad they are taking hold in other parts of the country,” she said.

Along with writing songs and performing, Ms. Hutton has also been a personal development life and career coach for the past 20 years.

“I guess I found out about this in the late ’90s and I became interested in the premise of becoming a life coach,” she said.

“A coach helps you find the answers that you’re seeking rather than providing them for you. Often we don’t feel like we’re being listened to and just by having someone asking the questions, you can look inside yourself and give your own answers.

“I love doing the work and I love recording and singing and writing. I really have the best of both worlds.”

Tickets for the Smyrna Opera House show are $20 general admission, $16 for Smyrna Opera House members, senior citizens and military and $10 for children 12 and under.

They can be purchased at SmyrnaOperaHouse.org, by calling 653-4236 or visiting the box office at 7 W. South St. Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Food truck competition

Harvest Ridge Winery will host its annual food truck competition fundraiser today from 4 to 8 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 6 p.m.

The event features 20 food trucks offering diverse menus. Tickets range from $10 to 25, available on Eventbrite with limited tickets sold at the gate the day of the event.

The event benefits Hero Hunts Foundation and local chapter of Disabled American Veterans. It includes live entertainment and is family friendly with activities for children. The event is free for those under 18 years of age.

Entertainment will be provided by Dave Nickolson from The Wet Bandits today from 4 to 8 p.m.

Buckshot Brooks and The Backwoods Bandits will play Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with Shelby Hotwire performing with Dovetail from 3 to 6 p.m.

Harvest Ridge Winery is at 447 Westville Road, Marydel.

Brigantinos to perform

Sisters Lisa and Lori Brigantino will perform at the Sunroom Songwriters Series house concert in Dover Saturday at 7 p.m.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m., light refreshments provided. Suggested donation of $10 to $15, all money goes to the performers. Message or email nmaliwes@icloud.com for directions.

Lisa and Lori Brigantino grew up in Katonah, New York, where they started making music together as children. They’ve performed Lisa’s original songs at a number of clubs, coffeehouses, house concerts and festivals.

Recent notable performances include joining Terre Roche of The Roches for some classic Roches songs at If These Walls Could Talk – A Tribute To The Bottom Line hosted by Paul Shaffer and appearances at the Ladybug Music Festival, New Jersey Folk Festival (singer/songwriter showcase winner) and the Black Potato Festival.

The sisters are known for their tight sibling harmonies and musicianship — often juggling a number of different instruments including guitars, banjo, accordion, ukulele and more.

‘How to Succeed’

Possum Point Players presents the classic musical comedy “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” on Saturday and Sunday and April 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday and April 14 at 2 p.m. at Possum Hall, 441 Old Laurel Road, Georgetown.

Tickets are $25 for adults and $24 for students and seniors. Call (302) 856-4560 or visit www.possumpointplayers.org on the web for tickets or more information.

‘Mary Poppins’

The musical “Mary Poppins” will be performed by The Young Actors Guild, Inc. at Providence Creek Academy Auditorium, 273 Duck Creek Road, Clayton, today and Saturday at 7 p.m.

Tickets are available online at youngactorsguild.net and at the door for purchase.

Now Showing

New in theaters is a remake of the Stephen King horror tale “Pet Sematary,” the superhero film “Shazam!”, the faith-based film “Unplanned” and the civil rights drama “The Best of Enemies.”

New on DVD and download starting Tuesday is the family film “A Dog’s Way Home,” the Laurel and Hardy biopic “Stan and Ollie,” the Ruth Bader Ginsburg film “On the Basis of Sex” and the Steve Carrell fantasy film “Welcome to Marwen.”

To share news of your entertainment group, venue or event, contact Craig Horleman at 741-8224 or chorl@newszap.com.

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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