By: Kendall Louis
Andy Meadows’ big, deep baritone radio voice merges with a cool and calm presentation that carries over into his singing voice. His performances are reminiscent of the classic “George Strait appeal”—no bells and whistles, just standing on the stage with his mic and singing. Add smooth vocals, a big band and an engaging audience connection, and you have the embodiment of the Crooner style—think Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Bobby Darin. Crooners, by any definition, are entirely male. Crooning is a 20th-century style of singing made possible by the invention of microphones and amplifiers. This allowed the crooner to sing in a much softer, quieter, more intimate style.
The 36-year-old native Texan crooner performs with his nine-piece band at the Live Oak Music Hall in Fort Worth on Sat., Sept. 5. Meadows’ new EP Never Be the Same blends jazz, country, western swing and big band. The three-song title track, produced by Jason Manning, and recorded, mixed and mastered by Patrick McGuire, features one of Meadows’ originals Never Be the Same, which he performs in his favored Crooner style. Rounding out the album are You Don’t Know Me (Eddy Arnold, Cindy Walker) and The Way You Look Tonight (Jerome Kern, Dorothy Fields).
Manning describes Meadows’ imaginative blends as refreshing in today’s music climate and “just great music. Rarely does a voice like Andy’s come along. It’s deep, rich, and as smooth as expensive Kentucky Bourbon,” he says. “Andy’s experience in radio and voice-over makes his delivery flawless. I’ve always been a huge fan of the Crooner style, so I was honored when I was asked to be a part of the project.”
Patrick McGuire, owner of Patrick McGuire Recording Inc. in Arlington, appreciates Meadows’ unique voice and style as well as his interesting and challenging song choices. “His voice was a perfect match for my vintage Neumann U47, the same model microphone Frank Sinatra used on most of his recordings,” McGuire says.
Meadows grew up in Junction, a small town in the Texas Hill Country where his family owned and operated a country radio station. His father leads the music in his church; his mother teaches high school drama. He grew up singing in the choir. At 16, Meadows’ talent led to an opportunity to take private vocal lessons with the head of music at Baylor University. After high school graduation, he received a full vocal performance scholarship to study opera at Texas Tech. Meadows later transferred to South Plains College to study commercial music.
Meadows released his debut album in 2010 with 11 original songs that ranged from traditional country to Americana folk to blues.
“I love country music and I’ve written country music since I was 15 or 16, so when I performed, that’s what I always played,” Meadows says. “But, I never really felt like it showcased my voice very well. So, every time I would play a gig, I would sing at least one Eddie Arnold song or one Jim Reeves song. I noticed that the audience got quiet, even though a lot of them didn’t even know Eddie Arnold or Jim Reeves very well,” he continues. “This new EP is the first time I’ve been impressed with something I’ve recorded. Every song our band performs is unique. It’s not a carbon copy of everyone else’s version.”
Meadows wanted to use horns in producing You Don’t Know Me, so he decided to do a Frank Sinatra song as well—The Way You Look Tonight. Satisfied with the way the album was turning out, he and McGuire decided to take one of his original songs off the last record and rework it to a swing tune. “We had so much fun in the studio that I wanted to do it live,” Meadows says. “Patrick McGuire has been doing this for 20-plus years, and he’s got an amazing ear. It’s by far the best place in the area to record. And you get a good bang for your buck. He just does a great job.”
Meadows recalls a time when he was 12 or 13 at church camp in New Mexico: “This guy and I were arguing about how a song went; he was like ‘Just sing it.’ So, I started singing it, just goofing around. I turned around, and there were about 15 girls just hanging out. I was like ‘OK, this is going to work to my advantage here. Maybe there is something to this singing thing,’ ” he says laughing.
When his voice started to change, people began to pay attention, he says.
Meadows has called Arlington home for 13 years. When he’s not singing, he works as the Operations Director at LKCM Radio Group in Fort Worth and the noon to 3 p.m. midday host on 92.1 Hank FM.
Erin Wilde is the morning show host on 92.1 Hank FM. She also is the voice of country stations across the nation and the show voice of Power Source Country, a nationally syndicated show on country radio stations.
Meadows hired Wilde two-and-a-half years ago. “I have worked in dysfunctional radio environments, and this has been the most refreshing workplace,” Wilde says. “I believe leaders create that. Andy is not a boss; he is a leader. He is humble and calm under pressure, which is contagious.”
Wilde is a big fan of Meadows’ Crooner style. “There are a lot of voices out there, but you have to find your own voice,” she says. “I believe he has done that with this album and style of music. It just comes naturally. On top of all of that, Andy is one of the most humble guys I've ever known, which, of course, makes everyone who comes in contact with him an even bigger fan.”
Meadows says he enjoys everything about Fort Worth. “For me, growing up in a small town, when I first moved to North Texas, I didn’t like it; I lived in Las Colinas. When I started spending more time in Fort Worth, I realized that people acted like it was a small town even though it’s a big city. It’s such a nice, tight-knit bunch of folks, and there are so many places to go. It’s just an interesting city.”
The new CD can be purchased on andymeadows.net or at CD Baby. It’s available on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon and almost anywhere digital music is sold.
Tickets to the Sept. 5 performance are $10 in advance or $15 at the door and are available at theliveoak.com. Photography by Jill Woodruff
By: Kendall Louis