Remembering Country Singer Daryle Singletary (1971-2018)
This month saw the Country Music world robbed of a singular talent. Singer Daryle Singletary passed at home in Tennessee at the age of 46.
Singeltary’s career boasts over a dozen songs in the country music charts, including “Too Much Fun,” “I Let Her Lie” and “I’m Living Up to Her Low Expectations,” produced by Randy Travis.
The son of a postmaster and hairdresser, Daryle Bruce Singletary grew up with music a part of his every day. Born in Cairo, GA, Daryle sang gospel songs regularly with his brother and cousins, and enjoyed family trips every summer to Music City. Speaking with the Tennessean, in 1998, Singletary had shared, “It was the biggest deal for me to go to Opryland to the Barbara Mandrell record-your-own-voice studio there. I recorded (the Hank Williams classic) Your Cheatin’ Heart. … I think I was 12 or 13.”
Singletary made his home in Music City in 1990, playing clubs regularly, and eventually releasing his self-titled debut on Giant in 1995. Last summer saw the release of classic country duets, American Grandstand, with Rhonda Vincent. It befits Singletary’s legacy, whose body of work served as an homage to the classic sound. Singletary was quoted, “I’ve been fortunate to be able to always keep it real and not have to compromise.” Vincent heard the news while in the studio with Dolly Parton and Mavis Staples. Taking to Facebook live, she shared “He’s a dear friend. I am stunned. … Our prayers go out to Daryle’s wife and his children.” Vincent joins a list of collaborators including George Jones and Johnny Paycheck, Dwight Yoakum, Merle Haggard, Ricky Skaggs, John Anderson and Vince Gill.
True to his traditional country sound, Singletary released There’s Still a Little Country Left in 2015. The album included “Get Out of My Country” in which Daryle sang “If you want to do it right, do it like old George Jones. … If you came to twang town just for the money, then pack it up, son, get out of my country.” Found on his official website, Singeltary’s own words: “There are still people out there who want to hear traditional country music. I’ve been fortunate to be able to always keep it real and not have to compromise.” Upon its release, Daryle recalled “When I moved to Nashville in 1990, I left Georgia telling my daddy, ‘I want to make my living in country music. I didn’t tell him I wanted to be played on the radio every day or be on a video channel every day. I said, ‘I want to make a living playing for the people who enjoy my kind of music.’ Fortunately, and thankfully, I have been able to do that since 1995.”
Chuck Rhodes, president of On the Rhodes Entertainment, was kind enough to take some time to speak with us from Nashville during a very difficult week. We asked Chuck how long ago he first connected with Daryle.
“I was kind of looking back. I kind of miscalculated. I originally told someone 21 years, but it’s now been 25 years. His first record came out on Giant records, the self-titled record “Daryle Singletary” on Giant in ’95 and I had come in as Nashville promotion director at Giant in about 1994, when the label was just getting kind of off the ground for a couple years. I had met Daryle there. I worked for Nick Hunter and he was the head of promotion for Giant and VP of promotion, and he had worked at Warner Bros for years, with Randy Travis, so Randy called Nick and James Stroud, who was president of the label at the time, and said, “I want you to hear this young man,” Randy and at the time his ex-wife, Lib Hatcher had managed him, managed Randy, and said “We found a young man we want you to hear,” and we brought some stuff over to play, and I’ve never heard a voice like that before in my life.”
Chuck continued, “So, James and Nick put a deal together very quickly, we signed him, and we put his first record out in 1995, which harbored several hits, but the biggest couple of ones were ‘I Let Her Lie’ and ‘Too Much Fun’, off the first album. We kept moving along through the years, after Giant Records. Nick and I went on to form a label called Audium Records, and that was distributed by Koch, which was, at the time, one of the largest independent record labels in America.”
Chuck spoke with reverence, remembering Singletary’s many collaborations, including those on That’s Why I Sing This Way. “We had several guest artists singing on it, which were his heroes. George Jones, Merle Haggard, Johnny Paycheck, Dwight Yoakum.” Daryle sang a song of Johnny Paycheck’s called ‘Old Violin.’”
“That record Johnny Paycheck wrote, had a hit back in the 80s, but one of the things we did there, which was a little different is, Daryl sung the record and then Johnny was in the last few months of his life in a nursing home and we went over and he did a recitation at the end of the record. And if you listen to it, you go online and listen to it, there was a very poignant recitation that Johnny did on his original record and we asked him to kind of recreate it. And he did do it at the end of the record and it was actually Johnny Paycheck at the end of the record speaking this little recitation. That was one of the last things that we did before John passed away. And just a very poignant moment. For everybody. We went back after we finished the record and had it all mixed out. I remember us going back at that time with Nick Hunter and with Daryle and me and then at the time and through the years, Johnny Paycheck’s manager was a gentleman by the name of Marty Martel and he went with us. John was just so excited to hear it and we played it for him. Man, I tell ya, there just wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”
It’s clear that Chuck has countless stories of his time Daryle, whom he calls “our best country singer that we had in what we call the modern era of country music, through the last twenty years.” Chuck spoke of Singletary’s commitment to the traditional country sound, and its fans, continuing to “fulfill that fan base that was out there that was starving for traditional country music… You know those folks are out there. They love traditional country music. They’re Daryle Singletary fans and they still love traditional country music. That’s one thing that Daryle was so blessed with, is that we really hadn’t had in the past fourteen years. We really hadn’t had a big record on the radio. But, he still maintained an incredible fan base and he still worked over a hundred days a year. And so, we were just so blessed.”
Beyond, though, his mark on country music is Singletary’s love for and dedication to his family. Rhodes shared, “He is first and foremost a family man, and I told several people that this week. He loved his family more than anything else in this world. He and his wife, Holly, been married 14 years. They wanted to start a family early. It took a while to get that going, but now have four beautiful children. He loved his family so much. I’d been there almost 26 years with him now where we would, maybe back in the day we’d be out riding the bus, playing shows and we might take a few minutes to sit around after a show and continue to play with the boys on the bus and sing some country western songs and have a good time, where in the past … I guess the oldest, the twins are seven now, so in the past six, seven years, the priority was to get on the bus and go home. I can say unequivocally, Daryle Singletary was a family man. As he transitioned into this new phase of his life, he was a Christian man. He loved the Lord and he loved his family. And that was his priority to get back and be with them. He knew he had to go out on the road. He knew he had to go out and work. And he loved his fans, but as he transitioned into father, husband … that role, that became his most important role.”
Donations may be made to The Daryle Singletary Foundation Keepin’ It Country fund, benefiting Daryle Singletary’s family, via:
The Daryle Singletary Foundation Keepin’ It Country
c/o Franklin Synergy Bank
Attn: Ellen May
Senior Vice President
Sports, Music and Entertainment Group
33 Music Square West Unit 110B
Nashville, TN 37203
Mourners have taken to social media in tribute:
Just got word that Daryle Singletary has passed away.
Rest in peace Buddy, you sang country like country should be sung.
— Charlie Daniels (@CharlieDaniels) February 12, 2018
I’m shocked and saddened to hear that Daryle Singletary has passed away. He was a true country voice and his talent will be sorely missed. Praying for Daryle’s friends and family. https://t.co/ETYofzufCC
— Travis Tritt (@Travistritt) February 12, 2018
My good friend and one of the best pure country singers if not the best, Daryle Singletary passed away this morning. God’s choir just got a lead singer!!!
— Neal McCoy (@NealMcCoy) February 12, 2018
Rough morning for me. One of my favorite singers, Daryle Singletary, has passed away this morning unexpectedly. He’s the one who convinced me to move to Nashville. Praying hard for his family✝Love you Daryle
— Josh Turner (@joshturnermusic) February 12, 2018
@Darylesing was a Redeemed man and saved by grace! I’m so thankful to have known him all these years. Life is short, love one another. D’s voice will always live on in my speakers. Salute again buddy. https://t.co/Q4YiUyojsa
— Larry The Cable Guy (@GitRDoneLarry) February 12, 2018