Forgotten Artists: 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.
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.
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.
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