Bobby Tomberlin returns home for CD release party
Published 9:06 am Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Recently, a Luverne legend returned home to a warm welcome from friends, family and fans alike.
A CD release party was held last Thursday at the Luverne Public Library in honor of Bobby Tomberlin, country music star.
“I love coming home to the place where I was raised and where my dreams were born. Being with family and great friends and getting away from the music business,” Tomberlin said.
“Sometimes I miss the slower pace of life. I live in Franklin, Tennessee. It’s a suburb of Nashville and has this Norman Rockwell-like downtown. It’s a great place to land after a busy day on Music Row.”
Tomberlin had the chance to reconnect with classmates, family, musical inspirations, teachers and more as the festivities continued throughout the evening.
Tomberlin offered autographed copies of his CD, and also stopped for photo shoots with his adoring fans.
“I don’t think it gets any better. I’m blessed that I get to come home often but this was very different, getting to share my new project with hometown friends and family first, before it’s released to the rest of the world,” Tomberlin said.
“We have release party’s in Nashville, Gatlinburg and Los Angeles, but I wanted Luverne to be the first. We had a great turnout. It was such a blessing to have so many folks attend that were such a huge part of my prep for the music business.”
The beginning of Tomberlin’s success cannot be pinned down to one particular moment or even to the contribution of one person in particular. He notes that it was his Uncle Robert who taught him his first chords on the guitar and Windham Pittman, his high school FFA advisor, who pushed him on stage to sing and play lead guitar in the FFA String Band.
He also recalls that family friend Wayne Williams who was with he and his parents when he purchased his first guitar. He also thanked his fellow FFA string band mates, Lisa Rolling and Jim Free, along with his parents and other family.
Lastly, he thanked a few people from the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery, Sue Watson and Alan and Angela Carpenter, who Tomberlin says have given him tremendous support in recent years.
Tomberlin began his music career at the age of 11 as a disc jockey at WLVN Radio in Luverne; Tomberlin says it was Joe Rex Sport who welcomed him into the WLVN Radio family. During his time there, he had the opportunity to interview artists such as Waylon, Johnny Cash, Eddy Arnold, Bill Anderson and others.
“I studied and learned who the songwriters and musicians were and who produced the hits. After high school, I moved to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where my roommates were hit songwriter, Billy Henderson and hit group Shenendoah member, Mike McGuire,” Tomberlin said.
“That was an education that I’m so grateful for. I learned so much from them and others in the music community there. After a couple of years, I moved to Nashville and wrote songs for Mel Tillis publishing company.”
For the next 21 years, Tomberlin wrote for Reba McEntire’s company and CURB Records Publishing Company. Some of his side jobs in the early years were checking out groceries at a Kroger Grocery Store, where some of his customers were Crystal Gayle, Conway Twitty and Brooks and Dunn.
Tomberlin also was also a sound engineer for Grand Ole Opry legend, Whispering Bill Anderson.
“I traveled 36 states with Bill and that’s where my great friendship with Little Jimmy Dickens started. I started getting songs recorded after about four years in Nashville, but it was 10 years before I had a hit,” Tomberlin said.
“Hank Williams, Sr. was my biggest inspiration. While growing up in Luverne, it was like Hank was still alive. People were always talking about him. I heard stories about him playing in Luverne, Rutledge, Petrey, Glenwood and all around Crenshaw County. There’s even a picture of him and Audrey Williams at the grand opening of a Chevy dealership in Luverne. I always thought, if Hank could do it, maybe I could too.”
Tomberlin encourages up-and-coming artists not to sell themselves short when it comes to pursuing their dreams of a professional music career. His motto for them is, “If I can do it, anyone can.”
To this day, one of his biggest inspirations remains Hank Williams, Sr.
“Hank Williams, Sr. was born so far out in the country, didn’t graduate from high school, shined shoes and sold peanuts and he is the main artery of country music,” Tomberlin said.
“Don’t be afraid to chase your dream. I will say that it takes a lot of work to make them come true. It’s not going to come to you. You have to chase it.”
While it may be difficult for him to narrow his experiences down to one, Tomberlin believes that one of his most memorable moments came with the success of the song “One More Day”.
“That song, recorded by Diamond Rio, took Steven Dale Jones and I, to the Grammys, CMA’s and ACM’s, but, the real award has been hearing from folks sharing their stories of how that song has helped them through hard times,” Tomberlin said.
“The song continues to be used at memorial services. There’s not a week that goes by that we don’t hear another story. That song was straight from God and we just held the pen.
In the future, Tomberlin isn’t quite sure what is in store for him, but with each day passing, he’s excited to see what new challenge will come his way.
“I’m not bragging. Sometimes, it’s hard for me to believe. I’m just so thankful and all of these moments are beautiful gifts from God,” Tomberlin said.
“The next few years? Who knows? You never know what you’re going to wake up to in this business. It’s a wonderful ride. I make new friends each week. I’m blessed with a wonderful relationship with recording artist, Sylvia. I see myself continuing to write, play shows with artists and writers that I admire and just be open to what God sends my way.”