Ask one of his countless fans – or even one of his peers, and they will tell you that Sammy Kershaw definitely qualifies as a Country Music original. In a day and age where individuality isn’t something that is sought out as much as before, when you hear a Sammy Kershaw song about heartbreak, love, or good times – you know who it is. You don’t have to be told. And, in a career that has seen some amazing highs over the past thirty-five years, the best – as they say – is yet to come.
Growing up in Kaplan, Louisiana, Kershaw was enthralled with the masters at an early age – names like Conway Twitty, Mel Street, and George Jones. In fact, as a teenager, Kershaw had developed such a reputation for his vocals – even then – that he was often called upon to open for those acts, and others like them. Jones was so impressed with Sammy that he frequently used him on his shows whenever he was playing in the region.
Of all the artists that Kershaw has worked with over the years, it very well might be Jones that left the most impact. From the moment that he released his debut single for Mercury Records, “Cadillac Style,” critics and fans all made the comparison. Rather than run from them, Kershaw embraced them. After all, that stone Country sound was what Sammy Kershaw was all about – and that’s what he was going to give his fans! “Cadillac Style” made it all the way to No. 3 on the Billboard charts, and from there (to quote Jones), the race was on! Follow-ups such as “Don’t Go Near The Water” and “I Can’t Reach Her Anymore” established him as one of the finest traditional artists of his time, while records like “Yard Sale” showed that haunting Jones influence was very much a part of everything he is about.
In 1993, Sammy Kershaw topped the singles chart for the first time with “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful,” which has become one of the most-played records at Country Radio over the past two decades. Albums such as Don’t Go Near The Water and Haunted Heart were both certified as million-sellers by the RIAA, and only continued to add to his stature. The hits kept coming on the airwaves, as well. He added to his resume such classics as “I Can’t Reach Her Anymore,” “Meant To Be,” his cover of The Amazing Rhythm Aces’ “Third Rate Romance,” and 1998’s “Love Of My Life,” which cemented his reputation as a balladeer.
Kershaw can be found out on the road – both on his own as well as part of the successful Roots & Boots tour with Collin Raye and Aaron Tippin. The three continue to bring their signature sounds to the fans year-after-year all over North America. But, Sammy Kershaw is not resting on his laurels – though he very well could. His 2014 George Jones tribute disc Do You Know Me was his highest-charting project in fifteen years, and has only whetted the appetites of his fans for more recordings. Afterwards, he completed a brand new album for Cleopatra Records that industry insiders are saying is one of the best releases he has ever done. He has also developed quite a strong social fan base via Facebook and Twitter, having done so in an organic fashion – very much one on one, the way he’s always preferred to do it! And, if that’s not enough, Kershaw is putting the finishing touches on his long-awaited autobiography – which promises to be as juicy as a bowl of the gumbo he loves to prepare in his Louisiana home!
So, make no mistake about it. The past has been a great, long-winding road of highs and lows for Sammy Kershaw, but to quote one of his past singles, the goal isn’t to rest on those accomplishments, but to be “Better Than I Used To Be.”