Hal Ketchum has known the road as a veteran of the Texas honky-tonk circuit. He’s also known commercial success a with his 1991 certified gold release “Past the Point of Rescue.”
Ketchum has also known hardship. In June 1998, Ketchum was diagnosed with a neurological disorder called acute transverse myelitis, an ailment of the spinal column, which left Ketchum without the use of the left side of his body. As a result he had to relearn basic tasks, including how to walk and play the guitar. He also took some time to find his way back to music.
Ketchum tells Billboard. “I just kind of lost my powder for a while,” “I just didn’t feel like playing or writing. One day I just said, ‘This is a gift that God has given me, so I better get back to it.'”
“It’s an amazing gift to be able to come back this strong,” says Hal Ketchum in an interview with Billboard, who premiered the title track to his new album ‘I’m the Troubadour’ today. “I feel like it’s the best record I’ve ever made.”
The album, out October 7 on Music Road Records, marks a significant personal triumph for the legendary songwriter and Grande Ole Opry member, who spent the last several years living in a cabin in Wimberley, TX away from the pressure of the music industry, where he could focus on his health as he dealt with the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, including bouts of paralysis and blindness that had also taken a toll on his mental state.
Though he’s best known for hit country singles like “Small Town Saturday Night” and “Past the Point of Rescue,” which have led to more than 5 million album sales, it sounds like Ketchum has decided to enter music this tome from the eclectic Americana back door. His new cut ‘I’m the Troubadour’ (below) blends rock, folk, soul and Cajan elements to create a splendid amalgam.
That newfound creative freedom from genre restrictions and commercial pressure, a result of his partnership with Music Road Records, was just the inspiration Ketchum needed to break free from what he described as a “deep level of depression” that had put him in a “dark place as he struggled with health problems.
“I had pretty much thrown in the towel. I wasn’t interested in putting out another big country album. Ive done that. I’ve been there, man, he says. “I finally said to myself, I can still do this. I can still write.’ This record was a really beautiful departure for me. I think its going to be refreshing for people who havent heard me in a while to know that the old mans still swingin.”
His new album follows 2008’s ‘Father Time,’ will be released Oct. 7 on Music Road Records.