A dedicated career woman, consummate entertainer, inspirational motivator, and devoted wife and mother are just a few ways to describe Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Linda Davis. She has built a reputation as a world-class entertainer and is considered one of the best female vocalists in the business by some of her most well known peers.
A determined teen from east Texas with big dreams and a desire to make them come true, (singing on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry was at the top of the list) packed up an old black diesel Delta ‘88 with a U-Haul in tow and headed to Nashville in 1982. To make ends meet, Davis took a job as a receptionist at a recording studio (where she met husband Lang Scott the first day on the job) and sang demos for local songwriters. She also lent her voice to several national jingles including Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dr. Pepper and Mug Root Beer. In the evenings, she sang and played in the piano bar at Nashville’s Music City Sheraton.
Labeled a ‘song stylist’, Davis’ unique ability to interpret a song soon made her one of the most sought after session singers in Nashville. She caught the attention of label executives and landed her first record deal with CBS/Epic Records. Davis quickly gained a legion of friends and fans in the music industry, one being superstar Reba McEntire. “The first time I heard Linda sing was in 1989 when I was listening to songs for my next album. I kept hearing this one particular female vocalist on the demos that just blew me away. It had been a long time since a voice had moved me that way and I just had to find out who she was.” McEntire loved Davis’ music so much that she invited her to become a featured entertainer on tour with her. Their mutual respect led them into the studio together where they recorded a duet entitled “Does He Love You?” that went on to become a Number-One hit and earn both artists several awards including a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Collaboration.
On the heels of her success with Reba, Davis inked a new deal with Capitol Records and later with Arista Records. There she continued her string of chart success and building her rapidly growing fan base on tour. She was later recruited as one of the first artists signed to Dreamworks Records. It was there that she appeared on the soundtrack for the motion picture Black Dog starring Patrick Swayze. She also partnered with another superstar, Randy Travis, to record the song “Make It Through”, which was included in the gold-selling companion CD for the award winning movie Prince of Egypt.
Through the years, Davis has played to sold-out crowds with the likes of Garth Brooks, George Strait, Reba McEntire and Kenny Rogers just to name a few. Kenny Rogers, a long-time friend and fan proclaims, “In this business, there are people who can sing and there are singers. Linda Davis is absolutely one of the best singers in the business. I defy you to find anyone who’s ever worked with her or heard her sing to disagree with that statement. She is the best.”
Davis’ CD, I Have Arrived (including three songs she penned), received rave reviews and garnered country music critic Robert Oermann to say “Her performance is full of fire and passion. This can stand toe to toe with any product out there.” Davis’ latest single, of the same title, recently reached Number Five on the Christian Country Charts. Another highlight of her career came in the form of a letter from actor Christopher Reeve thanking her for “recording such a powerful song.” Davis said, “I was completely blown away. Imagine Linda Davis receiving a letter from Superman!”
Superman wasn’t the only one touched by the message of the song. “I Have Arrived” has become an anthem for so many people and the theme song for many charitable organizations. Davis hears the personal stories in the autograph lines after concerts and speaking engagements of how the song has its own special meaning for each individual and his or her situation. “It’s an anthem for anyone and everyone who has ever been through trials - which would be all of us - and come out on the other side,” Davis said. “The first time I heard the song, my manager tracked me down and played it for me over the cell phone. I was in tears before the chorus. I knew it was a song I had to record.”
“I Have Arrived” is also one of the messages in Davis’ keynote speaking presentations. Designed to “motivate and inspire” through stories and song, she addresses the issues of overcoming obstacles. With seven studio albums and fourteen music videos to her credit, Davis is no stranger to the ins and outs and ups and downs of the music business. “Juggling a career and a family, being a wife and the mother of 22 year-old Hillary and seven-year-old Rylee, life can be interesting,” Davis said. Most importantly, she encourages everyone in her audience to find personal joy. “I know I have the gift of relating to others. I want to show women that it is okay for them to allow themselves permission to include passion in their lives.”
Davis continues her role as National VP and Nashville Spokesperson for the Muscular Dystrophy Association as well as a number of other philanthropic endeavors. “You have to always give back,” she says.
Former protege and vocal partner of Reba McEntire, Linda Davis has learned well from the Queen of Country Music. Not only does Davis sound like a sonic cousin of McEntire, she has also followed her boss’ musical direction with Young at Heart (2007). McEntire who had recently made a splash at Broadway with her resurrection of the old musical “South Pacific”, Davis has also decided to dig into the jewels from the golden era of popular songs. Without being too simplistic, there are two ways artists have often tackled an album of standards. Some have opted for the languid late-night jazzy route (a la Diana Krall and Norah Jones) while others prefer the more upbeat Cabaret style buoyed by a full-blown ensemble. Davis has chosen the latter which has worked to her advantage as her full-bodied vocals needed that sumptuous backing to match the energy Davis puts into her performances. And her passion for the Great American songbook shows considering the fact that she and hubby Lang Scott not only chosen all these ten tracks but together they also produced this effort.
With the wealth of material from the vaults, Davis has an immeasurable canon of material to choose from. Yet for these ten tracks, Davis has gone for some of the more obvious choices. Nevertheless, Davis sings them with such freshness that they sound as of these paeans were written specifically for her. On Cole Porter’s graphic “Miss Otis Regret”, Davis sings as if she was acting out the narrative plot of this dark classic about murder and jealousy. All complete with some suspense building sounding piano chops to add to the excitement of the song. Davis claims our attention on “But Not for Me with her unhurried, tear-filled, and sincere performance. Also, quite jaw dropping is Davis’ acappella introduction to “My Babe” and the lonesome drum punctuations.
Not since Anne Murray’s version of “You Belong on Me” has anyone captured the tropical and dreamy sonic travelogue associated with the romance of this piece. Davis comes close. While a lesser artist may struggle with the twisting of words on the challenging “If I Were a Bell”, but Davis sings it as if she had been singing it for years. In fact, she sounds so much like Reba McEntire that they could trade identities on this track. Davis’ take of the title track “Young at Heart” really showcases what a great singer she is - her vocals are not only crystalline, but her unforced and swinging phrasings are just mesmerizing. Linda Davis certainly knows how to rejuvenate these chestnuts and making them sound “young at heart” again.
Through her music, motivational messages, inspiration, and encouragement to anyone who crosses her path, giving back is what Davis seems to do best. “I’m a glass half-full kind of girl. I can see the future and I can’t wait,” Davis said.