FREE concert in Downtown's Backyard. The grill fires up at 6. Music starts at 7. Join us for this family-friendly concert.
Jam sessions and shop talk are encouraged before and after the show, so bring your instruments and join in.
This week's featured artists: Gary Baker and Barry Billings
About Gary Baker
Gary Baker refuses to rest on his laurels.
Even though he’s earned a Grammy Award and created two of the music industry’s best-selling crossover hits ["I Swear" and "I'm Already There"), the multi-talented singer, songwriter and producer from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, prefers focusing on future projects and fresh musical horizons.
"I have one goal – to keep it all going and keep writing from the heart," says Baker, who garnered a gold Grammy statuette for 1994’s multi-million-selling smash "I Swear," a tender testament of true love co-written with Frank J. Myers.
First recorded by Nashville troubadour John Michael Montgomery, "I Swear" captured the No. 1 spot on the country charts for four consecutive weeks. The heartfelt love song was quickly covered by the hip harmony group All-4-One, who carried their own classic rendition of "I Swear" to the pinnacle of the pop charts for 11 additional weeks.
"That song tapped into something universal – a person expressing undying devotion to the person they love," Baker believes. "Generations from now, that song will still be around – I really believe that."
Few songwriters experience a success of the "I Swear" magnitude even once in their career. Baker, however, recaptured that songwriting magic when he and Myers collaborated with Richie McDonald, lead singer of the country super group Lonestar, on a second musical masterpiece called "I’m Already There."
"I feel almost like I’m Lou Gehrig," Baker observes. "I’ve been in the right place at the right time a whole bunch of times."
Released in 2001, Lonestar’s "I’m Already There" single remained No. 1 on the country charts for seven weeks before crossing as a Top 5 pop smash. The song – which deals with a husband and father who misses his wife and children while he’s forced to be away from home – proved to be an inspiring and comforting favorite among servicemen and their families.
"Those lyrics really struck a chord with an awful lot of people," Baker maintains. "To me, it means more to me than any song I’ve ever written – that’s because I wrote it for my wife and kids."
A native of Niagara Falls, New York, Baker launched his recording career with Muscle Shoals’ famed LeBlanc and Carr band, performing on their Top 10 hit "Falling." He wrote and recorded with artists ranging from Mac Davis to Marie Osmond before becoming a member of Muscle Shoals’ hit country act, The Shooters. Alabama’s chart-topping "Once Upon a Lifetime" marked his first No. 1 hit as a songwriter.
Since the success of "I Swear," Baker has been honored by the Country Radio Music Awards, the Country Music Awards, the Academy of Country Music Awards, American Songwriter Magazine, the American Music Awards, NSAI, ASCAP and the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. His versatility in pop and country has enabled him to work with pop superstars Nick Lachey, Jessica Simpson and the Backstreet Boys (who scored a No. 1 hit with Baker’s "Anywhere for You") as well as country favorites like Lonestar, Reba McEntire and LeAnn Rimes.
"Gary’s the man," says 98 Degrees singer and "Newlyweds" television star Lachey, whose recent solo album was co-produced by Baker. "I love coming to Muscle Shoals to write and work with Gary and soak up some of the wisdom and experience that he brings to the industry."
Baker and his wife, Amanda, live with their two sons, Brett and Cole, on the majestic bluffs overlooking the scenic Tennessee River in the Muscle Shoals region of northwest Alabama. For close to 50 years, the area has been a fabled musical mecca for artists ranging from Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett to Paul Simon and the Rolling Stones.
"Muscle Shoals is a perfect fit for me, because we’re not known for doing only one kind of music – there’s no stamp on what we do here," Baker believes. "I can live here and raise my kids in this beautiful area, do what I do best and still work with some of the top names in the business. I’ve been truly blessed."
In June of 2005, Gary, along with A.J. McClean of The Backstreet Boys and Steve Diamond, co-wrote the title track to The Backstreet Boys latest CD release "Never Gone."
Backyard Jams are produced in coordination with Barry Billings. Billings is a Shoals Musician with a storied history. He has recently played with Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires. Billing's song "Brother John" is featured on the 2015 Grammy-winning album Muscle Shoals Recordings by the Steel Drivers and is known as one of the highlights of the album. He has recorded with The Swampers and traveled with Marie Osmand and the Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose.