Even though she considers herself a country singer, Trisha Yearwood isn't exactly crazy about categories. Some people may think of music as being broken down into a set of well-defined styles -- rock 'n' roll, country, soul, rap, etc. -- but she bridles at the notion.
"In my dreams, the perfect record store is where everything is listed from A-Z," she says, over the phone from a tour stop in Springfield, Ohio. "Because I go into stores, and I can't figure out what gets put where. Is Linda Ronstadt country? Rock 'n' roll?
"Then there's this category, 'Vocals.' Streisand is in the Vocals category -- does that mean the rest of us are really bad singers because we didn't make the category?" She laughs. "It's very confusing.
"If people would just kind of listen to the music and judge it on merit, we would all be so much more intelligent about music," she continues. "I just like music in general. So I can like Mary Chapin Carpenter, and I can like Patsy Cline and I can like George Jones. And I can like the Cranberries, and I can like R.E.M., and I can even like Snoop Doggy Dogg. I do, you know? I don't put 'em in a category. I just like it, or I don't like it."
Yearwood's own experience with being categorized may explain some of her outlook. "I'm kind of a marketing nightmare," she says, laughing again. "When 'She's in Love with the Boy' came out, I think everybody at my record label thought, 'OK, she's mainstream. She's going to be Reba McEntire.' Because 'She's in Love with the Boy' was incredibly commercially successful."
But Yearwood never intended to make a career of songs like "She's In Love with the Boy." As she explains, "'She's in Love with the Boy' was a great song, but it was one part of the things that I do. All of my albums have a lot of variety. There are songs that are very country in nature, and songs that kind of go the other way. I don't want every song to sound the same, and for a while I almost fought with my label, telling them that I'm just not as mainstream as some of my songs are."
In fact, Yearwood's latest release, "Thinkin' About You," is her most down-home album so far. "I don't know that it was a conscious effort," she says of the album's traditional tack, "except that I know that it was not a conscious effort to go the other way, to be rock 'n' roll. It's kind of a per-song thing, like, 'This is a song I want to sing."'
Because she'd rather follow her instincts than play to the market, Yearwood admits that she has mixed success with radio. Sometimes I have big number ones; sometimes I don't," she says. "But I'm real happy with the music I'm making, and I think now, after four albums, everybody's starting to realize that I'm going to make music that I like. Music that is from my heart, and it's true to me.
"I've been lucky to kind of ride that fence of feeling like I have integrity with the music, but still being able to sell records. So I'm sleeping well at night. And my idea of success is just that -- not having every single go to No. 1."
'Thinkin' ' music
To hear excerpts from Trisha Yearwood's album "Thinkin' About You," call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County, call 268-7736; in Harford County, 836-5028; in Carroll County, 848-0338. Using a touch-tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6134 after you hear the greeting.
When: Monday, July 3, 8 p.m.
Where: Pier Six
Tickets: $25, $22.50 pavilion, $12 lawn
Call: (410) 481-8327