When Trisha Yearwood came off a three-year world tour with Garth Brooks just in time for Christmas in 2017, the last thing she expected was to hear her husband say he’d like to get back on the road and do it all again – but in stadiums.
After all, that last tour was his first in 13 years.
“I thought he would maybe be like ‘OK, I’m gonna take a break. I don’t know if we’re gonna do this ever like this again,’” Yearwood says with a laugh. “And then, because he’s Garth, he’s like ‘We never really have done stadiums. What do you think?’”
It’s been fun, she says, to watch as her husband approaches this stadium tour as though he’s never toured before.
What to expect on the Garth Brooks tour
He’s come up with “a brand new stage, a brand new look, some different elements to make every show in every city different,” Yearwood says. “So as his wife and as a fellow artist, it’s been really cool to see him take this on as ‘I want people that see this show to say, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve never seen that.'”
Another thing that’s different about this tour is that Yearwood isn’t on the bill, although she will be hosting Trisha’s Tailgate in the parking lot before the show.
Back to ‘Trisha business’
“This is a Garth show,” Yearwood says. “This past year I spent working on two new albums. I haven’t made new music in a while. So I said, ‘I would like to not be on the ticket.’ That doesn’t mean I won’t make an appearance at a show now and then. But I also have other Trisha business I need to do. So I’d like the freedom to do that.”
Yearwood laughs and says, “I didn’t know at the time that I would end up in the parking lot, doing tailgates. I jokingly say, ‘Garth’s in the stadium and I’m in the parking lot.'”
It’s not that she didn’t love sharing the spotlight with her husband on that last tour.
“It really was a good experience,” she says. “I’ve been making records since ’91, so I’ve done a lot of touring. And I thought my favorite place was these small intimate theaters. But the Garth tour is its own thing. I’ve never been to a more energetic show in my life. So I got the opportunity of coming out in the middle of his set into all that energy and my job was just to kind of hold my own out there and not bring the energy down for when he came back out. I learned a lot. I learned how to perform in an arena.”
There was no question, she says, as to whether or not she’d be joining Brooks on tour, even after opting out of a spot on the ticket.
“When we got married, we said we don’t want to be together to be apart. So we really have tried for these 14 years to make sure we make our plans where we don’t have to spend very much time apart.”
What is Trisha’s Tailgate?
Hosting a tailgate party is a natural for Yearwood.
“I’m a sports girl,” she says. “So I know about tailgating for, you know, Georgia Bulldogs games. But when we did the world tour, we’d pull up for soundcheck and I’d notice that people were tailgating for the show. I guess I was late to the party on that. I didn’t realize that everybody was doing that.”
She did her first Trisha’s Tailgate before last year’s one-off show at Notre Dame.
“And it went really well,” she says. “So we decided to do this in every city. We have a tent set up and there’s gonna be seven or eight Trisha foods. There’s gonna be games and drinks. I’m gonna do a food demo. It’s just kind of a hangout for several hours before you can go in to see the stadium show.”
At the Notre Dame tailgate, she says, “We did some macaroni and cheese, mini hot dogs, sliders, drinks. It’s not like a little appetizer thing where you’ll go into the stadium hungry. You’ll definitely have a chance to eat some real food before you go in.”
Why Trisha Yearwood loves to cook
It’s the sort of menu you’d expect if you’ve seen “Trisha’s Southern Kitchen,” a Food Network series that features Yearwood cooking Southern meals for her family and friends.
“I’d love to say I had this planned, but honestly, it was a happy accident,” Yearwood says of the show. “I wrote a cookbook with my mom and my sister for fun. I never dreamed that there would even be a second cookbook. But when we had a New York Times best-seller, the TV shows started calling. I actually thought, ‘I don’t know if it would be fun to stand behind a counter and tell people to add the butter’ or whatever. But the Food Network was great about saying it can be whatever you want it to be. So we created this show that was a very off-the-cuff, not-scripted show that really was the book come to life. Telling the family story. Having my family, my sister and my best buddies on the show. We laugh a lot. And I think I represent most cooks because I’m not a chef. Most people cook like I do.”
Yearwood’s parents were amazing cooks, she says.
“So my sister and I growing up, our jobs were usually things like setting the table and cracking the ice cubes, because we didn’t have an ice maker.”
It wasn’t until she’d gone off to college that she learned to cook.
“I moved into an apartment,” she says. “And I didn’t know how to make anything. So I called home and I think the first recipe my mother gave me is her potato salad, which is very Southern and has, like, four ingredients. When I made it and it tasted like hers, I thought ‘Oh my gosh, I can do this.’ I missed home, I missed my family and I was able to feed myself and my friends and also to create that feeling of comfort from home. There’s such a connection there.”
The charitable side of Trisha and Garth
Her tailgate party is a benefit for Habitat for Humanity, which she and Brooks have been involved with for “probably 10 years now,” she says.
“Garth and I started with Habitat a couple years after Katrina. We went to New Orleans and really we thought we were going to be celebrities that did a couple interviews and swung a hammer for a photograph. And we got hooked. I mean, that day, I learned how to frame a wall. I learned how to put a window in. I was like, ‘I want to do this.’ It’s wonderful to give money. And we do that. We also sign items for charity. There are great ways to give. But getting in and getting your hands dirty, working alongside the homeowners, because Habitat’s motto, which I love, is ‘a hand up not a handout.’ If you’re gonna live in this house, you put in sweat equity. If they can’t build for some reason, they work in the office, stuffing envelopes or whatever. They earn this home. So it’s pretty amazing to see.”
Her new album is ‘Let’s Be Frank’
In February, she released a Frank Sinatra tribute album titled “Let’s Be Frank.”
“I’ve wanted to make a standards record for about 20 years,” she says. “I grew up with my mom’s music, which was a lot of things but she really loved old movies and musicals, so I knew all these songs since I was a kid.”
That desire to do a full album of standards became more focused on Sinatra songs a couple years ago.
“The Grammys did a 100th birthday tribute to him,” Yearwood says. “And Don Was was the musical director. He and I had worked together before and he said ‘Have you ever thought about making an album of these songs?’ I was like, ‘Yes, I think about that all the time.’”
She assembled a list, Yearwood says, of about 100 songs.
“My criteria was if Frank recorded it, it was fair game,” she says. “So there’s a mix of really well-known, almost written-for-Frank songs and other songs like ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ that you might associate more with Judy Garland but Frank recorded it. And it was a real joy to make. I worked on it at Capitol Records in L.A., where Frank recorded a lot of his music, with a 55-piece orchestra and got to sing on his microphone.”
She’s had live strings on records before, she says. “But I’ve never recorded live like that where you walk into the room and you’re another instrument. It’s never more pressure because it’s not like you can punch in if somebody makes a mistake. You have to start over. So I didn’t want to be the one person out of 56 who went, ‘Ugh, I didn’t come in right there. Can we start over again?’”
In addition to such classics as “Come Fly With Me,” “Over the Rainbow,” “Witchcraft” and “One For my Baby (And One More for the Road),” the album features one song Yearwood co-wrote with her husband.
“I came home one day with this title and Garth started singing this melody that didn’t sound like him,” she says. “It sounded like a throwback to something else. When we finished the song, this was probably a year before the record happened, we didn’t know what to do with it. So when this project came up, he encouraged me to play it for Don Was, who played it for the arranger, and they said, ‘We’re doing it.’ I never intended for there to be an original song on the record, and I’m certainly not saying that I think it deserves to be next to these iconic songs, but it was really an honor to have a song about my relationship on the record that when you play the record it doesn’t feel to me like it’s really out of place. It feels like it could’ve possibly been written during that time.”
Recording with a 55-piece orchestra is just the latest chapter in a life she looks at as a fantasy come true.
“It’s almost like ‘This is your job?! This is what you get to do for a living?!’ Singing was something I wanted to do since I was five years old. So it never really does feel like work. I’ve had a real job where I had to punch a time clock. And what I get to do for a living is something I would do for free. I think you become even more appreciative the older you get because you realize that you’re really lucky to still be getting a chance to do it.”
Reach the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-4495. Follow him on Twitter @EdMasley.
Support local journalism. Subscribe to azcentral.com today.
When: 2 p.m. Saturday, March 23.
Where: State Farm Stadium south lawn, Loop 101 and Glendale Avenue, Glendale.
Admission: $65 (includes entry to Trisha’s Tailgate for one person, unlimited food and two drink tickets).
Details: 623-433-7101, eventbrite.com.
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 23.
Where: State Farm Stadium, Loop 101 and Glendale Avenue, Glendale.
Admission: Sold out.
Details: 623-433-7101, statefarmstadium.com.
Read or Share this story: https://www.azcentral.com/story/entertainment/music/2019/03/17/trisha-yearwood-interview-garth-brooks-stadium-tour-frank-sinatra-tribute/3144430002/