TG Sheppard is unstoppable when it comes to music. Sheppard has had 20 number one hits throughout his career even though he admits he’s never been known as a songwriter. Songs like “I Loved Em Everyone,” “Do You Wanna Go To Heaven,” and “Only One You” kept Sheppard on the top of the charts and with good reason. “I’ve always been known as a performer and singer. But I’ve known the feeling of writing number one songs and so I’ve done that and I’m happy. I tend to take a song no matter where it comes from.”
Indeed he does. Sheppard relates that a man showed up and knocked on his door one night at 11 p.m. Introducing himself the man said: “Mr. Sheppard, my name is Don Miller, I’m a high school principal here in town. I’ve written a song I think is a number one song.” Sheppard heard it and I said, “I think you’re right.” That song ended up being Motels and Memories, a number one hit for Sheppard.
He tries to keep himself open to all possibilities when it comes to where he might find a song. “You never know where that [next hit] song is going to come from so you always keep your eyes and your ears open to everything because it could walk in that door right now. A lot of people won’t record unless they write their own stuff and I think that’s a cardinal sin.”
Music has come a long way over the years and Sheppard has seen many changes in the music industry – some good and some bad. “I think auto tuning has been detrimental to music in some ways because it’s taken away the natural vocal of a performer,” Sheppard acknowledges.
He also believes that to really appreciate an artist and their songs you must listen to the whole album, not one or two songs. “I’m not big on downloading individual songs because I think albums need to be heard. They’re more than just a song or two in an album. I’ve always felt that an album is a 35-40 minute private concert, and there’s a lot going on in that concert but if you just pull one or two songs you don’t get the whole essence and mood of the album…”
Although Sheppard doesn’t prefer downloading singles and auto-tune, he feels some of the changes in the industry have been very positive. Sheppard believes in the power of social media. “Being able to reach so many people in a second with the push of a button, I wish I’d had that luxury and tool in the eighties when we were having big records. I think that’s why careers are happening bigger and faster now is because you’re able to reach people quicker and larger numbers of people.”
Despite wishing he’d have had it sooner Sheppard and his wife, Kelly Lang, most definitely use social media to their advantage. You can visit their Facebook page – with Kelly’s “throwback Thursday” videos and also follow TG on Twitter .
Another change Sheppard has witnessed has been what could be considered the loss of Music Row. When people think of Music Row they usually think of all the talent that began there and the spectacular street it is. He says “As I knew it, there’s no Music Row anymore…” Sheppard further explains, “Music Row, when I started, was a camaraderie. There was a closeness. It was wonderful to be able to walk in the back door of someone’s office and hear a song that had just been cut that day, maybe by Mac Davis or Kenny Rogers or Eddie Arnold. That part of Music Row is gone and it’s sad because so much of the camaraderie left with it. There’s not that closeness there once was – it’s more competitive. That doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. It’s just not there right now. Back when I was starting out it was great to go over and visit with great producers and songwriters and jump in the back door and catch someone in session recording like George Jones and Tammy Wynette or someone like that. I hate that we’ve gotten away from that but the one thing in life that we can all count on is change.”
Although his career has brought him great success, Sheppard remains humble. Sheppard explains that the best thing about being in the music industry is relationships and friends. “I was guilty for so long – when success came and I was starting out – about being so obsessed with succeeding and having the next number one and doing concerts that I never took the time to develop long lasting friendships. And slowly through the years I realized I was meeting a lot of incredible people that I wanted to stay close to and I started reaching out and telling people I love them and that I wanted to spend time with them and see them and work with them. So that to me is the most important thing – relationships.”
Sometimes people get tired of hearing an artist’s name, but few are tired of hearing Sheppard’s. When asked what keeps him going, his response was inspirational. “I think what keeps an artist going is constantly dreaming bigger because when you stop dreaming it ends. You settle and you stop at what you’ve attained because you fulfilled your dream. With me I’m constantly dreaming for something different, something better, and something bigger. The only reason I do that is to enhance and improve the quality of life of the people around me. I believe in paying everything forward. I believe in sharing with people who need help and people who need encouragement and lifting up. So, my whole life now is dedicated to making a difference in people’s lives with money and music. That’s what I want to be known for.” This may be the reason TG Sheppard is still such a recognizable name.
If you’re wondering what Sheppard’s plans for the future are, you can find him “living the dream” and sharing his time and energies with those he cares about – or giving of his time to someone who is having a rough day. Simply put, Sheppard wants to make a difference in the lives of those around him and do so to the utmost of his ability.