Signed to Evergreen Records by the time he was merely 21 years old, Sammy Sadler had already hit the top of country charts six times when he and friend Kevin Hughes, chart director for music industry magazine, Cashbox, were approached one evening in 1989 on Nashville’s famed Music Row by a masked man in dark clothing. The man opened fire, fatally wounding Hughes, and leaving Sadler for dead.
It would take more than a decade before the details were learned of an elaborate chart- fixing scheme at the now defunct magazine, and before the masked gunman - Richard D’Antonio - was identified, tried, convicted and sentenced for the crime, which has famously become known as the “Murder on Music Row.” Hughes had been the target, and Sadler hap- pened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Ever the optimist, Sadler has picked up the pieces and continues where he left off. His new album, Heart Shaped Like Texas, is his first nationally released album since the shooting. E1 Music (formerly Koch) has the album slated for release on September 29.
Heart Shaped Like Texas (produced by Jerry Cupit) is filled with top-drawer songs that are important to Sadler. “I look for songs that speak to me,” he says. “If I don’t believe in what I’m singing, there’s no way I can expect an audience to believe it, either.”
“Heart Shaped Like Texas reminds me of the warmth and honesty country-pop music had in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, before megabucks and megasales turned much of it into slick rock disguised as country,” wrote Mario Tarradell of The Dallas Morning News. “When he sings ‘I’ll Always Have Denver,’ it sounds like it was meant for him to croon.”
“I’ll Always Have Denver,” the album’s first single, features guest Steve Wariner, who wrote the song with country icon Bill Anderson. “I’ve been such a big fan of Steve’s for years and was just thrilled that he sings on this album with me,” says Sadler.
From the opening notes of “I Wanna Be Loved By You” to the final track, Sadler’s distinctive tenor breathes heart and soul. The title track, written by noted producer Ted Hewitt (Rodney Atkins) is a swing tune about a Texas girl who loves her state. “I can relate to that,” Sadler says. “It’s a great place to be.”
On “John 3:16”, Sadler urges listeners to be willing to reach out to their fellow man. On “If This Ain’t Heaven” he talks about the joys of simple living.
Born in Memphis and now living in Texas, Sadler is excited about the album. “I am a survivor,” Sadler says. “I’m not the 21 year old kid I once was, and I don’t second guess the paths my life has taken. I’m very happy where I am now.”