David Letterman gives boost to country singer

Sat Nov 15, 2008 12:45am EST
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By Ken Tucker

NASHVILLE (Billboard) - While no one is calling new country artist Randy Houser an overnight success -- at least not yet -- things are definitely going his way. After all, how often does an artist, new or otherwise, get called to make a command performance for David Letterman?

The CBS late-night host heard Houser's soulful single "Anything Goes" on Sirius Satellite Radio and asked his booker to track him down.

"He didn't want to wait -- he wanted to be the guy that put him on first," said Fletcher Foster, senior VP/GM at Universal Records South. "It really gave us some momentum in having people look at him differently."

The traditional song, which includes the lyrics "Anything goes when everything's gone," struck a chord with Letterman, who proclaimed after Houser's early-September appearance that it was "the story of my life." The single is currently No. 19 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart; it serves as the title cut to Houser's debut, due in stores on Tuesday.

The son of a musician who made his living playing blues, R&B, soul and other music of the Mississippi Delta, Houser knew early on the path he would follow. "The first time I saw my dad get onstage and play guitar, I was done," Houser said. "I knew what I wanted to do."

Houser soon made a name for himself both fronting a band and as a solo performer. When he moved to Nashville about five years ago, he quickly found work as a demo singer and soon after signed a publishing deal.

"Things happened really fast," he said. "I busted my butt doing everything you can think of down in Mississippi and I planned on coming here to do the same thing, but I was just really lucky getting to work at what I loved to do pretty quickly."

After a short stint on MCA Nashville -- Houser jokingly refers to it as the "quickest record deal in history" -- a staff producer at sister label Universal South successfully lobbied the company to sign him.   Continued...

<p>Talk show host David Letterman reads a tribute to Johnny Carson at the 57th annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles in this file photo from September 18, 2005. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith GMH/DH</p>