Country rocker is eager to release his first album in 3 years

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It's been 17 years since the release of Joe Diffie's debut single, Home, and the Oklahoma native says more good recordings should be forthcoming on a new label.

Joe Diffie (right) is working on his second album since leaving Sony in 2001. He will perform tonight at Bell Auditorium.  Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
Joe Diffie (right) is working on his second album since leaving Sony in 2001. He will perform tonight at Bell Auditorium.

"It seems like forever that I've been working on this new record deal, but it should be happening pretty soon," Mr. Diffie said in a phone call from his home near Nashville, Tenn. "It's been three years now since my last album."

Mr. Diffie left Sony music (Columbia, Epic, Monument labels) in 2001 after the release of his single and album In Another World .

His first independent album and single, Tougher Than Nails , was released on Broken Bow Records in 2004.

Meantime, Mr. Diffie is still touring -- including a concert tonight with Aaron Tippin at Bell Auditorium -- and still entertaining Grand Ole Opry audiences in Nashville (he has been a cast member of the Opry show since 1993).

Mr. Diffie has had a long string of hits, including If The Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets), (Something Women Like About A) Pickup Man, John Deere Green, and New Way (To Light Up An Old Flame) .

He also recorded Not Too Much to Ask with Mary Chapin Carpenter (it earned them a Grammy nomination) and co-wrote the hits There Goes My Heart Again (Holly Dunn) and My Give A Damn's Busted (Jo Dee Messina).

Mr. Diffie's oldest son, Parker, 26, travels with him as part of his road crew, stage manager and harmony singer.

"He has a great voice but not the same style as me," Mr. Diffie said. "His voice is more contemporary. He started singing with me when a harmony singer I had couldn't make a show. We needed someone quick, and Parker did know my songs."

There is another singer apparently waiting in the wings at the Diffie household: his 3-year-old daughter, Kylie, Mr. Diffie's child with his second wife, Theresa.

"She loves to sing," Mr. Diffie said. "She recently did her first recital in the children's choir at our church. It was a speaking part."

Over the years, Mr. Diffie has used his celebrity status for many good things.

He has raised more than $1 million through his First Steps concerts and golf tournaments to benefit disabled children and raise awareness for Down syndrome. Mr. Diffie's son, Tyler, was born with Down syndrome in 1989.

"In my position," the country singer said, "you sing as good as you can and you entertain as long as you can, and hope the rest works out."

Don Rhodes has written about country music for 37 years. He can be reached at (706) 823-3214 or at don.rhodes@morris.com.


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