Forgotten Artists: Linda Davis

Paul W. Dennis | October 6th, 2010

fa_linda-davis

If Linda Davis is remembered today, it’s usually as the mother of Hillary Scott, lead singer of the modern pop-country group Lady Antebellum, who won a bunch of awards over the past few years for their first two albums. Occasionally, Davis is remembered for her Grammy winning 1993 duet with Reba McEntire, “Does He Love You.” For the most part, however, she is not remembered at all, which is a shame as she is a highly talented singer who is still active today.

Born Linda Kaye Davis on November 26, 1962 in Dodson, Texas, and raised in nearby Carthage, she grew up in a musical family as one of five children to Milford and Oneita Davis. She made her singing debut on a local radio show at age six. As a teen she appeared on the revived Louisiana Hayride, and by the time she was 20, she had determined that music would be her life, so she rented a U-haul trailer, crammed her belongings into the trailer and her Olds Delta 88 and relocated to Nashville. Needing to find employment, she landed a job as a receptionist at a recording studio, where, as luck would have it, she met her future husband, Lang Scott, on her first day on the job.

Her singing talent soon enabled her to find work singing demos for local songwriters and recording advertising jingles for clients such as KFC and Dr. Pepper. She also performed evenings, singing and playing piano at the Music City Sheraton. Her obvious talent landed her a recording contract with minor label MDJ Records, where she was paired with Skip Eaton for a few duet recordings. Three singles were released in ’82 under the name ‘Skip & Linda.’ All three (“If You Could See Through My Eyes,” “I Just Can’t Turn Down Tempation” and “This Time”) charted, however none reached the Top 60 and the duo broke up.

When the Skip & Linda venture ended, Davis, already married to Scott, set about the task of finding additional career opportunities and starting her family. After her daughter Hillary’s birth in ’86, her career got back on track when she landed a recording contract with Epic in ’88. The first single, “All The Good Ones Are Taken,” landed Davis her first Top 50 single; however, no additional forward momentum was achieved as her next two singles “Back In The Swing Again” and the Kix Brooks-penned “Weak Nights” charted outside the Top 50. A label change to Capitol in ’91 saw two singles released: “In A Different Light” and “Some Kinda Woman.” Both charted outside the Top 50 and the arrangement with Capitol ended.

Always in demand as a background singer, Davis began working in that capacity for Reba McEntire. In 1993 Reba was in the process of releasing her second ‘Greatest Hits’ volume for MCA. Consistent with the modern practice of having a few new songs on the album which had not already been hits, Reba invited Davis to duet with her on “Does He Love You,” which, when released in August of ’93, soared to the the top of the charts. The success of this recording, coupled with a very successful video of the song and subsequent CMA and Grammy awards, served to briefly revitalize Davis’ career. She signed with Arista late in 1993, and her first single for the label, “Company Time,” became her biggest single to-date, reaching #43. The next single, “Love Didn’t Do It,” only reached #58, but was followed by the longest hot streak of her career as the next four singles all reached the Top 40. “Some Things Are Meant To Be” reached #13 to become her biggest solo hit early in ’96. It was followed by “Love Story In The Making” (#33), “I Wanna Remember When” (#20), and “I’m Yours” (#38). Only one more chart single remained: “From The Inside Out,” which reached #60 in May 1999, following a label change to Dreamworks in ’98. Thus ends the story of Linda Davis as a charting artist.

Including her ‘Skip & Linda’ recordings, Linda Davis charted a total of 16 times, with only three of her songs cracking the Top 20. It is hard to assess why she did not have a more successful career. Partially, it may be that she came along at a time when there were many strong female performers front and center on the country charts and she simply got lost in the shuffle. She had a very good, although not especially distinctive, voice. She was extremely attractive and seemed quite personable in the few televised interviews I saw. I always felt that she would have made more of an impact with more traditional country material. Perhaps she gave more attention to her family and less to her career than many of her contemporaries. Whatever the case, she deserves to be better remembered than currently is the case. At least in her home state of Texas she is still remembered as she was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009.

Discography

Because Linda’s career as a recording artist began in the 1980s, it is likely that none of her recorded output, other than 45 rpm singles, was issued on vinyl–at least I’ve never seen any vinyl albums. Early recordings probably were issued on both cassette and CD. Her early Capitol singles, when released on album, came out on the Liberty label.

Liberty Albums
In A Different Light (1991)
Linda Davis (1992)

Arista Albums
Shoot For The Moon (1994)
Some Things Are meant To Be (1996)

Dreamworks
I’m Yours (1998)

Currently the Ernest Tubb Record Shop does not list any Linda Davis titles as being available. Ms. Davis does have a website where some of her product may be purchased: http://lindadavis.musiccitynetworks.com.

Currently available are Young At Heart, a collection of ten pop/jazz standards, and I Have Arrived Arrived, both of which were produced by Linda and her husband. There is also a Christmas album available titled Family Christmas, which features Linda, Lang and Hillary (Scott) harmonizing and taking turns on lead vocals.

  1. Thomas
    October 6, 2010 at 7:42 am

    …she’s extremly easy on the eyes, her voice is easy to like, her music falls largely into the easy-listening category of the genre and most unfortunately, her songs are easily overlooked. if any of the aforementioned had been a little more edgy, her career might have turned out differently, but that’s speculation. fact is, i own four of the albums of this wonderful vocalist and like them very much.

  2. Lewis
    October 6, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Like Pam Tillis, Linda Davis is not forgotten by me at all. I liked her music but she got treated very poorly by her labels. I still remember her video for “Does He Love You” with Reba McEntire like it was yesterday and the duet itself and the infamous red dress that Reba wore with her when they sang that duet on the 1993 CMA Awards.

    Can I ask Paul why he’s picking singers who he says are “forgotten” (Pam Tillis, Linda Davis) when yet they haven’t had a hit in years and are still playing tour dates and aren’t totally forgotten (Mel Tillis being Pam Tillis’ dad and Hillary Scott the daughter of Linda Davis)? There are other forgotten singers out there that deserve their own article (K.T. Oslin, Joe Stampley, Billie Jo Spears just for starters) so why on those who are still alive and kicking but haven’t been played on radio in years and still tour.

    There’s another mother/daughter who have had success but the daughter had the biggest success and that is Liz Anderson (mother) and Lynn Anderson (daughter). Why not do an article on them?

  3. Paul W Dennis
    October 6, 2010 at 8:32 am

    back by popular demand:

    “The use of lack of radio airplay and chart action is simply this – A CONVENIENT LINE OF DEMARCATION that is (or should be) easily understood – nothing less and nothing more. I’ve chosen to use this as my operating defintion because is easy to grasp … and it works. By this definition yes, Patty Loveless, Ernest Tubb and Clint Black are “forgotten artists”.

    In doing the series I try to pick artists that are of some significance and that readers might be interested in reading about. I don’t pretend that they were all of equal importance. Bradley Kincaid,Ernest Tubb and Gail Davies were of greater importance than many of the names featured in the series as was Jimmy Dean who died before I could get around to him)

    If you dislike the article fine, but I am NOT retitling the series…”

    *** I like the suggestions of a Liz Anderson/Lynn Anderson article. Look for that to appear in early 2011 after I work through some earlier suggestions

  4. Jon
    October 6, 2010 at 8:52 am

    How can someone be forgotten when he or she had only a negligible presence in the public’s awareness in the first place? I mean, this piece says that Davis “deserves to be better remembered than currently is the case,” but gives absolutely no reason why that should be so.

  5. Cutting the Treacle
    October 6, 2010 at 8:59 am

    I question whether Linda Davis is a forgotten artist when she never really registered in the first place.

  6. Lewis
    October 6, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Paul: I have no problems in reading your articles about forgotten artists but calling Linda Davis, Pam Tillis, Clint Black, Patty Loveless, Ernest Tubb “forgotten artists” when the latter 4 people are still alive and well recording and touring but not getting much or none at all airplay on radio while Ernest Tubb has never been forgotten by anyone especially me. Just makes me wonder of who you’ll think of next as “forgotten”, Hank Williams Jr. and Trisha Yearwood?

  7. Lewis
    October 6, 2010 at 9:32 am

    Cutting The Treacle: Linda’s brief period of success came on the success of “Does He Love You” when she won a Grammy for that duet plus other awards from the CMA’s and ACM’s. Aside from that, Linda was treated poorly by her record labels before and after that which is why she’s possibly relegated more or less now as being one of Reba’s backing singers and as being the mother of Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum. But she hasn’t been forgotten on account of her duet with Reba and the Lady Antebellum connection.

  8. Cutting the Treacle
    October 6, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Jon is right, Lewis. Even by Paul’s standard of a forgotten artist (lack of radio / chart action), Linda Davis doesn’t cut it. There’s a separate category for artists like Linda Davis: One Hit Wonder.

  9. Thomas
    October 6, 2010 at 9:56 am

    …just for the record: the most boring discussions around here are: “what makes a duo a real duo?” followed by: “how forgotten has forgotten to be to be really forgotten?”

  10. Ben Foster
    October 6, 2010 at 10:02 am

    I don’t really think it’s demeaning to Linda to write a “Forgotten Artists” article about her. The whole point of the article is to explain why she deserves to be remembered. And I get the impression that the term “forgotten” is used rather loosely, mainly referring to those who have been oustide the country mainstream for several years.

    And, in response to Cutting the Treacle, I think the brief mainstream recognition Linda received is enough to make her worth including in this series. It’s just that Linda was forgotten much more quickly than some of the other “Forgotten Artists.”

    This was a great article, and I enjoyed reading more about this talented lady.

  11. Ben Foster
    October 6, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Thomas, please don’t get Waymoe started on THAT.

  12. Jon
    October 6, 2010 at 10:10 am

    The whole point of the article is to explain why she deserves to be remembered.

    FYI, asserting that she deserves to be remembered is not the same as explaining why. Where do you find an explanation?

  13. Emmy
    October 6, 2010 at 10:33 am

    …just for the record: the most boring discussions around here are: “what makes a duo a real duo?” followed by: “how forgotten has forgotten to be to be really forgotten?”

    Second this thought entirely.
    I like to read these articles, regardless of where on the spectrum of “forgotten” an individual is. They are a nice reminder of what someone has done, or new information on someone I knew little about. I didn’t realize Linda Davis had as much solo material, for instance, and that her career spanned that long a time period. The Skip & Linda duet info was news to me.

  14. Lewis
    October 6, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Don’t forget Reba’s quartet duet of “On My Own” with Reba, Linda, Martina McBride and Trisha Yearwood which also was a Top 20 hit in 1995 though Davis, McBride and Yearwood weren’t credited on the charts for it.

    I also remember her very early solo hits like “All The Good Ones Are Taken” and “Back In The Swing Of Things” as they were pretty good country songs but as I said she got treated poorly by Epic. The same was true when she was with Capitol and she was singing ballads like “Weak Nights” and “Three Way Tie” same thing happened there. It wasn’t until she got with Reba McEntire becoming one of her backing singers which started the ball rolling thanks to Reba as she was the one who suggested the “Does He Love You” being sung as a duet as well as Linda getting on Arista. She had a couple of solo Top 20′s plus the “On My Own” quartet recording but then Arista treated her the same way that Epic and Capitol did as did her last attempt at recording with Dreamworks and once again she was back to singing in Reba’s backup singing group and afterwards the title of being the mother of Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum.

  15. Sam G.
    October 6, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Obviously Paul, you need to have three different series of articles going on here: “Forgotten Artists,” “Sort of But Not Really Forgotten Artists,” and “Artists Who Were Never Remembered in the First Place.” Get on that, would you?

  16. Thomas
    October 6, 2010 at 11:24 am

    …ironically, on her albums one can find quite a few songs that hillary scott and lady a. could easily take to the top of the charts or carrie underwood for that matter.

    l.a. to the moon
    what do i know
    he’s in dallas

    …just to name some obvious ones.

  17. Cutting the Treacle
    October 6, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Sam G: “Obviously Paul, you need to have three different series of articles going on here: “Forgotten Artists,” “Sort of But Not Really Forgotten Artists,” and “Artists Who Were Never Remembered in the First Place.” Get on that, would you?”

    Me: Or you could just distinguish between forgotten artists like Ernest Tubb and Patty Loveless and one hit wonders like Linda Davis.

  18. numberonecountryfan
    October 6, 2010 at 11:45 am

    For Lewis: A quartet duet? Does that mean eight people participated? Just asking!

  19. Lewis
    October 6, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    NumberOneCountryFan: They called Reba’s duet with Brooks & Dunn “If You See Him/If You See Her” a triad duet since it involved three people.

  20. Emmy
    October 6, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    NumberOneCountryFan: They called Reba’s duet with Brooks & Dunn “If You See Him/If You See Her” a triad duet since it involved three people.

    Now we’ve combined the discussion of when is a duo really a duo and when is an artist really forgotten.

  21. Paul W Dennis
    October 6, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Jon – I don’t need to tell you WHY she should be remembered – you can LISTEN to the streamed music and make up your own mind (assuming that you are not deaf).

    I should note that there were parts of the country where she received considerable airplay – a lot of her recordings might be better described as “regional hits” – at least four of her records were top tenners on local radio stations charts here in Central Florida

    I struggle with the concept of a “One Hit Wonder” – there actually are artists who charted exactly one record and it was a biggie so I guess that they qualify.

    Then there are artists who crossed over to the pop charts for one big record , but saw major action on the R&B and Country charts. Were the Statler Brothers a “One Hit Wonder” since they had only one top five pop hit in “Flowers On The Wall” ?

  22. Jon
    October 6, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Sorry, Paul, but your explanation of why Davis deserved to be remembered was so lacking that it didn’t even move me to listen to the streamed music. #FAIL.

  23. numberonecountryfan
    October 6, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    I think it is time to define a few terms around here. Ready? Good!
    1. One Hit Wonder-an artist that only has ONE top 40 hit.
    2. Major Hit-a single that peaks between #1-#20.
    3. Minor Hit-a single that peaks between #21-#40.
    4. Basement Hit-a single that peaks between #41-#60.
    Does Linda Davis qualify for #1? NO! She has FIVE top 40 hits.
    Does L.D. qualify for #2? YES! She has three top 20 hits. They are:
    1. Does He Love You-with Reba McEntire-1993-#1
    2. Some Things Are Meant To Be-1996-#13
    3. I Wanna Remember This-1998-#20
    Does L.D. qualify for #3? YES! Her other two top 40 hits are:
    1. A Love Story In The Making-1996-#33
    2. I’m Yours-1999-#38
    Does L.D. have basement hits? You betcha as described in the above story.
    For Paul W. Dennis: I would consider the Statler Brothers to be a one hit wonder on the pop charts as Flowers On The Wall (#4 in 1965) is their ONLY top 40 hit.

  24. Razor X
    October 6, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    I always thought Linda’s main problem was that she wasn’t provided with very good material.

  25. Paul W Dennis
    October 6, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Jon – if you didn’t listen to the streamed music it’s your loss, not mine.

    I write for the general readership, not for nitpickers and self-important critics. The series is intended to be historical in nature, not analytical. If history’s not your bag, then don’t waste your time reading the articles

  26. Cutting the Treacle
    October 6, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    numberonecountryfan: “I think it is time to define a few terms around here. Ready? Good!”

    Me: Interesting taxonomy. But I think Paul’s formula of radio + charting is sufficient. I just don’t think Linda Davis is memorable in the first place under that formula. She’s basically Anita Cochran, but with Reba as a cheerleader . . . a couple very nice but forgettable women.

  27. luckyoldsun
    October 6, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Number-One etc.

    These discussions are informal streams of consciousness of no consequence, other than the amusement of the participants. If you want to impose rules on who’s classified as what, well, good luck!

    To the average American, Billy Ray Cyrus probably qualifies as a one-hit wonder.

  28. Razor X
    October 6, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    @Numberonecountryfan: How can Statler Brothers be classified as a one-hit wonder and Linda Davis be considered something more than that? You point out to her 5 Top 40 hits — none of which were Top 40 pop hits. The Statler Brothers may have only reached the pop Top 40 once, but they have many, many more Top 40 country hits to their name than Linda Davis has.

  29. numberonecountryfan
    October 7, 2010 at 11:49 am

    For Razor X: You are basically comparing apples to oranges when comparing an artist’s chart performance on the country chart versus the pop chart. The Statlers WOULD classify as a one hit wonder on the pop charts, but had major hits on the country charts between the 1960s to 1980s. Linda Davis, on her best day, would not get any pop attention whatsoever.
    For Lucky Old Sun: Billy Ray Cyrus would NOT qualify as a one hit wonder, either. Not on the country or pop charts. His major hits on the country chart are:
    1. Achy Breaky Heart-1992-#1
    2. Could’ve Been Me-1992-#2
    3. She’s Not Cryin’ Anymore-1993-#6
    4. In The Heart Of A Woman-1993-#3
    5. Somebody New-1993-#9
    6. Words By Heart-1994-#12
    7. It’s All The Same To Me-1997-#19
    8. Busy Man-1999-#3
    9. You Won’t Be Lonely Now-2000-#17
    10. Ready, Set, Don’t Go-with Miley Cyrus-2008-#4
    On the pop chart, he has two top 40 hits. They are:
    1. Achy Breaky Heart-1992-#4
    2. Ready, Set, Don’t Go-with Miley Cyrus-2008-#37

  30. Bobby P.
    October 7, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Thomas: Although Linda didn’t have a hit with it, Ricochet took “What Do I Know” to #5 in early 1996. Around the same time, both she and Alabama had versions of “In Pictures”, and Alabama took their version to #4.

    Also, why did I’m Yours have so many of her songs from Arista and Capitol/Liberty on it, and the original recordings no less? That was a weird decision, but at least it exposed me to that Mac McAnally gem “Company Time”.

  31. Joe
    October 25, 2010 at 11:10 am

    “I Wanna Remember This” was SO good, should’ve been a massive hit.

  32. jack frost
    April 14, 2012 at 10:30 am

    For 50 yrs old, & beautiful, Linda can sing any of her own elected selections & be outstanding. Seems to me she was just “a day late or a dollar short”,
    or both. I’d WATCH & listen to Linda over Reba ANY day !! Had she been singing country/pop back in the 60′s – 70′s she could have helped fill in the Patsy Cline void.. Her only competitor would have been Anne Murray & there was room for both at that time.. Linda, you’re a GREAT lady as i’ve seen a lot at 75…. Some may say you’re gone but I say nay, & will NEVER be forgotten…

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