How to: Be a successful artist
When we talked to Hal Ketchum, it was hard not to go into shock over all his accomplishments.He has not only sold more than 4 million albums with five Top 5 BMI hits, he has also shown his paintings in a gallery in Santa Fe, acted alongside Mel Gibson in Maverick and Robert Duvall in Lonesome Dove, and performed for 11 years at the shrine of country music: the Grand Ole Opry.On March 9, Hal plays at the Vilar Center in a show that exemplifies artistic appreciation throughout a career that defines success.In an interview with the Vail Trail, he told us about his impressive range of artistic abilities and his consistent inspiration.VT: You are a poet, a songwriter, a musician, a carpenter and a painter an artistic renaissance man. What first drew you to art when you were young?HK: I got very lucky as a kid and I grew up in a household where artistic, eccentric behavior was an accepted behavior.I was always painting, always drawing and building. My mother used to say that I would hum before I could talk. I was always intrigued by sound.I started drums in an R&B band when I was 13. I got to really watch the world go by sitting behind a drum set.VT: When did you start acting?HK: I’ve been lucky enough to be dropped into some movies but I don’t want to take any credit in that. I’ve seen some real actors and that is a whole different craft.I enjoy it very much. If I really applied myself, I might get acceptable at it.VT: What is your favorite medium right now?HK: I like it all. It differs day to day. I have the luxury of doing it all. I have an art studio and a recording studio in my house. I gravitate through the house and if something strikes me, I pick it up and work on it.I can’t push it. I’m more like the convenience store; I’m open 24 hours a day.VT: Your career enabled you to travel through Tennessee and Texas, two country music hotbeds. When did you first travel to these places and how did your music evolve in Austin and Nashville?HK: Texas was like music school for me. I played drums in bands when I moved to Texas. I didn’t start writing until I got to Texas. It was a very important place for me.Nashville is like the market place, a great work place; a great music town.VT: What did it mean to you to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1994? What does an induction entail?HK: It was an honor. It’s proven to be the best thing that ever happened to me. It’s an amazing place to perform because 45 artists perform a night and the variety of music is fantastic.I made some great friends at the Opry.I do it whenever I’m in (Nashville). It’s basically a radio show and everybody gets half-hour segments. They say your name and you walk out and play a song.It’s beautifully bizarre with lots of country stars walking around and new artists who are half scared to death.VT: When is the Country Music Hall of Fame gonna’ take you in?HK: I don’t know if I’ll ever make the Hall of Fame. It’s someone else’s decision but I have some records hanging in the Hall of Fame.VT: You just finished recording a new album. Can you tell us about it?HK: Right now it’s predominately love songs and the tempos vary. That seems to be the theme. I feel like there’s enough bad news in this world.VT: Have you played in Vail or Beaver Creek before?HK: I’ve actually played in (Colorado) a lot. I was just up there a couple of weeks ago. I try to get up in that part of the world once in a while. It’s the best of both worlds; I get to perform and mix some pleasure in with my business. I ski and I love to fly fish. VT By Chris Black
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