Mr. Tippin, who will perform tonight with Joe Diffie at Bell Auditorium, has made a career out of tunes that fall into one of two categories -- the patriotic anthem or the blue-collar blues. He said that during the early years of his career, record labels pushed him in that direction, hoping to see repeats of previous hits. Today, as an independent artist he continues down that path because he feels it's the most accurate reflection of who he is.
"I think I've found my niche," he said, just days after returning to Iraq, where he performed for American troops. "But fortunately, it is me. I mean, I'm never going to be that big love ballad singer. But I don't care. I'm just out here doing my thing."
He said part of the appeal of his style is the places it takes him and the people he is able to play for. He wants the messages his songs deliver are received by the right audience.
"It has always been important to me," he said. "Where I'm playing and what I'm playing, it's important. I love to be doing this for a purpose. It makes me a lucky guy."
After spending several years on major labels, Mr. Tippin struck out on his own a few years ago, forming Nippit (Tippin backward) Records. He said that although the subject of his songs remains the same, acting as an independent artist has meant the style can shift and change.
"It's so wide open," he said. "It's a blessed opportunity. In order for music to evolve, you have to be able to let the reigns down a little. That's something that was difficult to do on a major label. But now I have that freedom. I can ... throw a banjo in the middle of a country song, or rock out a little with a guitar."
Mr. Tippin said acting independently also affords him greater opportunity to live by his ethos of taking pride in his work and accepting blame when the wheels fall off.
"There's never anyone to blame but me," he said. "But shouldering responsibility is something my daddy taught me and something I love to do. I think that's the problem with the world today. Nobody wants to accept responsibility."
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.