Cherie Oakley is a gifted songstress from Nashville, Tennessee. She has toured with country superstars like Carrie Underwood and Gretchen Wilson, and her impressive vocals recently garnered praise from Christina Aguilera on NBC's The Voice. Also an accomplished songwriter, Cherie and her husband co-wrote Reba McEntire's #1 song, "Turn on the Radio". Cherie kindly joined Artist Spotlight to discuss her music and her devotion to children's causes.
When did you first discover you were destined to be a singer/songwriter?
I started making up songs that I would sing for hours and hours when I was around 4 or 5 ... I dabbled with beginning to co/write when I could when I moved to Nashville in 2002 and became serious about it in 2009 ... that's when I had nabbed a record deal and couldn't WAIT to put my focus and energy into diving into writing for it.
You co-wrote Reba's #1 hit, "Turn On the Radio". What is the inspiration for your songwriting?
We had just experienced the flood. It was a very emotional time for us as many of our closest friends lost everything they owned. You couldn't walk out of your house without seeing debris everywhere and smelling the smell of lake water that filled the air. We wanted an escape. We wanted to write something fun, that would be a blast to perform ... So we wrote "Turn On The Radio".
What message would you like your music to convey to the listeners?
I'd love to convey an array of messages through my music ... I want people to be able to relate to me ... I want them to take a vacation from life with some of my songs and with others I want to reach out and touch them when they're in pain ...
Do you have a favorite song you have written or a song that is particularly dear to your heart?
It would be "Turn On The Radio." I went through hell and back after we finished writing that song ... that's when the roller coaster began and it hasn't stopped. It's dear to my heart for so many reasons, the people I co/wrote it with, the emotional time in which we wrote it, going through the crushing time of losing my record deal just after writing it, finding out my childhood idol wanted to cut it. Reba asking me to sing BGVs on it, it was my first #1 and I even got to finally meet Reba on national TV (The Voice) while she talked about the song ... Kinda hard to top that I think ...
What is your all-time favorite song (by another artist)?
I love a lot of songs so that's HARD ... The old standard "Smile" always makes me feel warm fuzzies
Tell us more about your touring experiences with artists like Carrie Underwood and Gretchen Wilson.
Two extremely opposite artists! I'm so thankful because with two extremes like that I've learned to find a nice happy medium! Both incredibly talented artists ... I'm so thankful to have learned so much from both of them ... It's helped me to know what kind of artist I want to be and need to be.
Are there any artists you hope to perform with someday?
REBA ... No contest!
Name 5 performers who inspired you as an artist.
1. Reba has inspired me my entire life
2. Michael Jackson
3. Shania Twain
4. Garth Brooks
5. Judy Garland
All incredibly different artists with one HUGE thing in common, GREAT performers
Name 5 adjectives to describe your music
Name 5 adjectives to describe you as a person.
What are the charities/causes close to your heart?
Anything to do with children ... My dad used to work out of an orphanage in Albania and I've been thankful to have such eye opening experiences as going there and reaching out to them. Children are such a beautiful gift from God ... the future of our world ... It's so important to me that they are protected and have the things they need in this life ...
What projects will you be working on in the future?
I'm already in the middle of booking a few live gigs, writing more songs, and in the process of gathering material for a record ... My goal this year is to make a record ... preferably with the help of a record label but even if not, I'm going to make one anyway.
CHERIE'S ADVICE FOR ASPIRING YOUNG ARTISTS:
I guess the advice I would give is to believe in yourself no matter what and stay true to yourself. So many people in this business have tried to sway me in every which way, not just musically but personally too. You have to know what kind of music you want to sing, the kind of artist (image, sound, everything) you want to be and the kind of human being you are .. and no matter what, do not be swayed ... You will only lose yourself and all you've learned that's made you who you are if you allow people to sway you ...
And when I say believe in yourself no matter what I mean it! There is SO much more rejection than any success when trying to make it as an artist ... You just can't let it get you down.
As far as the most important lessons I've learned ... They come from the ability to be able to tour with different artists and watch and learn from them, the good things they do, the bad things they do and what I would do differently. So here's some of what I've learned:
Humility goes a long way. Every opportunity is a blessing, there are plenty of people standing in line to have those opportunities, so don't take them for granted. Know what's going on financially and make sure the people who work with you are taken care of. Stay professional ... Even though gigs and touring can feel like a family and be a lot of fun, it is so important to view it as your job and take it seriously.
I guess that's about it ... I could probably write a book on different things I've learned along the way, but these are the most important I guess. Best of luck!
Thanks so much!!
Thanks to Cherie for sharing her time and talent. Cherie's version of "Turn on the Radio" is available on iTunes. Please visit: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cherie-Oakley/39118412016?ref=ts
For more information about children's charities, please visit: http://www.childrenscharities.org/