January 20, 2012 at 3:48 pm , by Ron Kelly
Some have pegged Sherrié Austin as the Taylor Swift of the Sex and the City generation. While it was Swift who titled her 2008 album Fearless, it’s Austin who’s had a longer track record of making big, brave moves to get to where she wanted to be. From moving as a teen from her native Australia to L.A. (when she won a role on the sitcom The Facts of Life), to leaving L.A. behind to chase down her dream of making country music in Nashville and even later tackling a few roles on Broadway, Austin’s made a habit of staring down challenges and coming out on top.
If you think about it, Austin’s new CD Circus Girl could also have easily been titled Fearless: She funded the CD, coproduced it and is promoting it, all without the support of a major label. She also took full creative control, penning three of its songs and cowriting all of the others. The task would be a tightrope walk for any country act but it was even more so for Austin, considering that this marks the first time she’s thrown her own hat into the Nashville ring in eight years. Though the singer enjoyed a string of country hits that started in the late 90s (“Lucky In Love,” “Put Your Heart Into It”, “Never Been Kissed,” “Streets of Heaven”), she’s remained mostly behind the scenes the past few years writing songs for others, including some pretty big hitters (think Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, George Strait and Trace Adkins).
When Austin visited us here at LHJ recently, she was honest about how daunting her Circus Girl endeavor was, even though she came out the other side stronger than ever. “There were times when I just woke up and said, ‘Why am I doing this? I’m taking such a big risk here with my time, with my money,’ ” she admits. “But every day this voice just kept saying to me, ‘Keep going. Take another step, take another step.’ I just listened to it. And I have no regrets.”
Why would she? From its first track to its last, Circus Girl soars, bursting with a real sense of Austin’s effervescent personality and pluck. There are tracks that will make you laugh out loud (“I Didn’t,” “If I Was a Man”), tracks that will make you cry (“Get Your Leavin’ Done,” “Tryin’ to Be Me”) and even tracks that will make you want to … ahem … get a little frisky (“I Just Want to Love You Tonight”). Lyrically, Austin absolutely nails it when she captures the internal thoughts that run through everywoman’s head. In her single-lady lament “Friday Night Girls,” for example, she sings, “Trying to look twenty-one / is getting old and it ain’t no fun / That mirror don’t lie / like it used to.” And in “If I Was a Man,” she vows to burn her push-up bra, singing, “Wouldn’t mind me a girl / with some meat on her bones / I’d love me just as I am / If I was a man.”
For the time being in her life as a lady, though, Austin’s main man is singer-songwriter Shane Stevens (a cowriter on Lady Antebellum’s “American Honey”), with whom she stars on the Sundance Channel’s Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys. The show, just nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for outstanding reality program, follows the relationships of four straight women and their gay best friends down in the heart of Music City. While being a part of GWLBWLB has helped reintroduce Austin to her fans, it’s also reminded her that performing is something she loves to do. And that’s certainly music to all of our ears.
For a video of Austin’s live and acoustic performance in our LHJ Ladies’ Lounge, read on after the jump. You’ll also get the scoop on this once again rising Nashville star and find out what her hesitations were about doing GWLBWLB, the unique way she wound up writing her favorite song, what country (and pop) stars she’d love to hear sing her tunes, and lots more.