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Ty England

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It's a slight change, but a significant one. With his new album, Ty England has decided to go by the name Tyler England. Why? "There's not anything I've done before to compare this album to. It's not Ty England. This is a more grown up record, with a more mature sound and subject matter. It's a totally different me and yet it's the me I started out trying to be when I first began performing."

The years he spent in Garth Brooks' band and his own experience as a solo artist gave Tyler a solid idea of how things work when making an album. He went into this project determined to make music that he could be proud of. "I put the best team together and that included getting my buddy Garth {Brooks} to produce this thing," he says. "We've been friends forever, and he's like my older brother. Because he knows me so well, he understood which songs I'd like and the pitch and range that I should sing them in. And I sang my best to impress him to do something that would put a smile on his face and make him glad that he got into this."

Both are smiling about the first song they recorded, "Too Many Highways," a straight-down-the line-country song. "When I heard 'Too Many Highways,' I realized the last time I heard a song like this was the first time I heard 'Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)' on the radio," says Garth. "I've looked for a song like this for myself the entire decade."

As for Tyler, he grew up on traditional country, learning songs by Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell when he was still a little boy. "My maternal grandfather was a music nut, who listened to all those artists who really molded country music," Tyler says. "Being a typical little boy I admired my Grandpa a lot, spent a lot of time around him. I wanted to be like Grandpa, and so I liked the singers he did." Tyler's grandfather taught him how to play those old country songs on the guitar, and as Tyler got older, his love of music only deepened. He began performing as a teenager, and in college became fast friends with another music lover, Garth Brooks. When Garth got a record deal, he called on Tyler to come on the road with him to play guitar.

In concerts, Tyler soon became a fan favorite. When he got an offer to make his own records, he jumped at it, signing with RCA and putting out two albums, Ty England (1995) and Two Ways To Fall (1996). After leaving RCA, Tyler did some touring, but mostly attended to his family. He and his wife have four children, two of them born after the last album. "I'm a daddy first," says Tyler. "The number one goal in my life is to have great kids. And to have great kids you have to be there. So whenever we've had a child, I've taken time off. We had two in two years, so I had a lot of time off. It's time to go back to work."

Truthfully, getting back to work has been sheer joy for Tyler. He's had the chance to spend a lot of time with one of his best friends, his producer, talking and playing songs well into the night, just as they did when they were college roommates. And the two of them are making the music he's always wanted to make. "I've learned a lot," he says. "I'm proud to say to people, 'That's my record.'"

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