EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - Neal McCoy, who was born in Jacksonville and now lives in Longview, has won numerous awards in country music, including his induction into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame.
Even though McCoy is known as a country music entertainer, it's music of every type that he loves.
Opening a concert with church music isn't unusual for country music star Neal McCoy, since singing in his church choir was among his earliest performances. However, as McCoy was growing up, other music came into play.
"I think what made me want to be in music was the Jacksons. The Jackson Five," McCoy said.
McCoy and Michael Jackson were only a month apart in age, so McCoy could identify with the youngest of the Jacksons.
"I would watch him and say, 'That's someone my age, and look at what he's doing,' and I was thinking at the time he's probably not having to do homework so I was thinking how can I get out of my homework and chores? Maybe I'll start singing," he recalled.
And McCoy did start singing, gravitating to the country music genre and making Nashville sit up and take notice with his 1994 album "No Doubt About It" and his single "Wink."
In 1997, McCoy's "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye" was named video of the year, and at the TNN Music City News country awards, he was named entertainer of the year in both 1998 and 1999. In 2009, McCoy was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame.
McCoy says the songs on his new album are taken from the Great American Playbook.
"We're known for our entertaining ability, but I want people to know that I can still sing, and on that music, you have to be able to sing, you know, to understand what you're singing about." said McCoy. "A lot of that stuff was written around World War Two when someone was going off to war and coming back from war. Just great romantic love songs in the chords and the lyrics. We just have to be able to phrase and tell the story."
McCoy says that's why he recorded the album, and he's excited for people to hear it. His album is called "You Don't Know Me" and he's hoping people will get to know him for this music, in addition to his country hits.
"People say, 'What's the neatest thing you've done? What's the best memory,' and I say any USO tour." he said.
McCoy has made 14 USO tours to Iraq and Afghanistan in the past 14 years, without fanfare and little publicity.
"They'll come up to you and say you don't know what this means, that you take the time to come over, and I say you don't know what it means to have the opportunity to come over and do this," McCoy said.
Like his USO tours and his angel network to help sick children, there's always a lot of heart and faith that goes along with Neal McCoy's work.
The Neal McCoy fan club office is located in Longview at 903-212-4996.