Tracy Byrd at the Shipshewana Event Center
Tracy Byrd’s brand of new traditionalist country made him a star in the ’90s, particularly his playful, good-time party singalongs (though he also turned in the occasional ballad success). Byrd was born in the small rural town of Vidor, Texas, in 1966 and grew up listening to his family’s extensive country record collection. When Byrd was 20 years old, he visited a novelty recording studio in a shopping mall and sang over a karaoke-style backing track of “Your Cheatin’ Heart.” Impressed, the saleswoman invited him to perform in an amateur talent show, and when Byrd was well received, he decided to make country music his vocation. He dropped out of college and joined Mark Chesnutt’s band, eventually replacing Chesnutt as the house headliner at a popular nightspot in Beaumont, Texas. He made one unsuccessful trip to Nashville in search of a record deal, but his second time around, he landed a private audition with MCA executives, who signed him right away.