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Cowboy Troy back in the saddle with new album

July 12, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLDe

Former "Nashville Star" host Cowboy Troy will use a tour stop in Hagerstown to promote his latest "hick-hop" album, "Black in the Saddle."

He will be at Cancun Cantina West on Saturday, where he plans to leak some unreleased, unrecorded material at the hourlong show, leaving it to Hagerstown fans to help decide whether the new stuff deserves a place on his next album.

Troy is signed to Raybaw Records, which is affiliated with Warner Brothers Records. He's been making music - a rock, rap and country hybrid he calls "hick-hop" - since 1989. His fame grew when he joined forces with MuzikMafia, a collaborative of music artists founded by John Rich and Kenny Alphin, the country twosome better known as Big & Rich. This led to higher profile gigs for Troy - like an appearance with Big & Rich at the Country Music Awards.

Recently, Troy hosted season four and season five of "Nashville Star," the country music version of "American Idol."

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The sixth season of "Nashville Star" debuted June 9 to a new network - it moved from USA to NBC - and new host, Billy Ray Cyrus. Troy says even though his contract for the show wasn't renewed for this season, he still watches the show every week.

But for now, Troy's moving on with his career, writing new songs for album No. 3.

"I told the record label, that for album three, I wanted to push the boundaries a little more," Troy said in a phone interview from his Nashville-area home. But the new material won't be that different.

"It's still going to be a hick-hop album," Troy said.

Q&A with Cowboy Troy

So, some people hear "hick-hop," they think gimmick. Why is that not the case here?

I think if you hear the live show, you'll see it's authentic. I don't change because trends change. I do what I do because it's me.

Why not stick to one genre at a time, do straight country? Ray Charles did it.

Ray Charles was a great musician. He achieved so much success that he was able to transcend anything, really. I don't really know how to stick to one genre because I used to listen to rock, rap, country at the same time. It's kind of weird being put in the same breath as Ray Charles.

I am wondering, from an artistic standpoint, which do you think is easier: crossing over or converging genres?

I think it's probably easier to crossover. It's not been a cakewalk molding genres together. I might take a guitar from some classic rock, a fiddle sound from '80s country, with some different kind of rap - that takes work. If you're not prepared for it, it's kind of like eating sushi, it's hard to wrap your mind around it. At first blush, people are curious, but suspicious.

What would you say has been the defining moment of your career so far?

There's been a couple. The first one I can think of, June 11, 2004, Virginia Beach. Big & Rich were opening for Tim McGraw. I was their surprise guest. That was the first time I had been in front of that many people. The second one was the (Country Music Awards). I think it was 2004, maybe it was 2005. Big & Rich performed and they brought me on stage with them. I believe that was the first time a rapper ever performed at the CMAs. Oh, I can't forget the first time I performed at the Grand Ole Opry.

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