Clint Black. Country music fans know this artist for writing and recording numerous hit songs such as "Killin' Time, "When I Said I Do," "Like the Rain" and "A Better Man." With more than 20 million albums sold worldwide, Black also is known for his high-energy live performances, his charity work and his appearances in television and films.
Black is to return to the Ritz Theatre in Tiffin for a 7:30 p.m. concert Sept. 28. He spoke by phone to describe the show and talk about his career, his music and his current projects, which include a new CD and music for a Las Vegas arena show.
Sharing the stage with him will be his band, and each musician is to have a spotlight in one or more of the songs they perform. The artist said many of the arrangements have segments "when the singer shuts up and (fans) get to hear great musicians play." Formed in 1987, the band keeps getting better and better, Black said.
"I'm spoiled and I like it that way," he added. "Fortunately, I have more hits than I can do in one show, so we try to pack it pretty tight, full of hits and favorites."
Over the past 10 years, Black said he has tried to improve his musicianship and do a lot more playing during his shows. In the days "before Facebook," Black said his website had a box where fans could leave messages. He often would ask followers what one song they most wanted to hear if they could attend a show.
"I got a really good sense of the songs that were the most popular, and I used that to form my choices in the show. But I'm also able to change it up and substitute and keep it fresh for us on the road. We pack it with hits, I do a couple of funny stories behind the songs and have some laughs," Black said.
In the works is a new album in collaboration with Hayden Nicholas and Steve Wariner. Black said he will bring in a limited sample of the new songs for the Ritz performance, but he intends to focus the show on tried and true favorites from earlier in his career.
Many of Black's compositions touch on social issues, but he thinks those that concern marriage and supportive relationships are especially important.
"I'm a strong proponent of marriage and good relationships in general. I'm a strong believer that every relationship benefits from communication. Will Rogers said ... 'Don't ever go to bed angry.' So when I write a song that speaks to those things, I think it sends a subtle message," Black said.
For the past three years, Black has been writing songs for a new production, "Aussie Adventure," an arena-theatre show with a full cast of actors, singers, musicians, 35 horses, and state-of-the art 360-degree effects. It is set to open in Las Vegas in early 2013 and stop at various U.S. arenas later in the year.
Black's daughter Lily, soon to be a teen, has inherited an "entertainer gene" from her parents. He said she has a natural aptitude for learning to play instruments, and she likes to "break into characters." Lily did well in a small role in Black's latest family film, "Flicka: Country Pride." His wife also acts in the movie.
One of the charities Black supports is the International Rett Syndrome Foundation. He said he chose that organization because he lost a 16-year-old niece to the developmental disorder. After seeing his brother struggle with the loss of his child and take up the IRSF cause, the singer also joined in. Every year, they do a benefit in Houston. When Black met Scott Hamilton on "Celebrity Apprentice," they teamed up to raise "some serious money."
If he hadn't become a musician, Black said he may have tried to join the Air Force. An older brother had joined the Army and advanced his education through the military.
"I dreamed of being in the space program as a kid, and I knew the Air Force was a possible path to that. But I had singer's grades," Black said.
He dropped out of school to work construction and play music. Black said he had read the book "No Promises in the Wind," which describes a group of young musicians from poor families who grew up in the Depression and improved their lives by forming a band. They were able to escape poverty and support themselves by performing. Black regrets being a drop-out.
"I got it in my head at a young age that I could always at least eat through my music," Black said.
Republic Lumber is the sponsor for the show. Tickets range from $30 to $75. For tickets and information, visit www.ritztheatre.org, stop at 30 S. Washington St., or call (419) 448-8544.