July 24, 2009 — Toby Keith is decidedly a country artist, but it doesn't mean he can't toy with artists from other genres. He shared the stage with Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry on an Elvis Presley TV special for ABC, and he did a Barry White cover on an album by smooth jazz musician Wayman Tisdale.
Wayman died earlier this year, and Toby spoke at his funeral, which ends up having an interesting influence on his next album. Toby wrote a song for his friend titled "Cryin' For You," and it'll feature a couple of jazz figures: sax man Dave Koz and bass player Marcus Miller, who's worked with such legends as Miles Davis and Grover Washington Jr.
"I used to talk to Wayman almost every day," Toby told The Boston Herald. "We were really close. I wanted to do the song at his funeral, but it was too emotional. But that's where I met Marcus and Dave and asked them to help me with it."
The first single is "American Ride," timed ironically with Toby's soon-to-be first European concert tour. He's headed overseas in November for a nine-show visit that begins in Glasgow, Scotland, and winds up in Bergen, Norway. The dates are an outgrowth of his recent USO tour of the Middle East. On the way home, Toby stopped over in Spain and got some surprising feedback from a fan.
"This kid told me I was a huge star in Norway," Toby noted. "I called my manager and said, 'Hey, this guy just introduced himself in the airport saying we were doing well in Norway. Is that true?' He told me, 'Actually, you just scored a platinum album there.' "
Despite the wall bling and the fan feedback, Toby's keeping his expectations for November in check.
"I know Willie [Nelson] goes over there every year," Toby explains. "But he's Willie. Newer country stars haven't toured there much, so I can't predict what will happen."
Toby's new album comes out Oct. 13. But even before that, another of his artists is on the way next month. Mac McAnally, who teamed with Kenny Chesney on the recent hit "Down The Road," is signed to Toby's Show Dog Nashville record label. Mac's first CD for the company, Down By The River, comes out Aug. 4.