Many young girls dream of becoming a glamorous blonde country singer, winning beauty pageants, acting in top TV shows, writing hundreds of songs and being terrific at both guitar and piano.
The Dallas-based country singer and songwriter Julie Ingram has done all of those things and much more. It’s small wonder that one of her own heroes is another lady who’s risen to the very top of several areas of showbiz – Barbra Streisand.
“I do call her a hero, with all she’s accomplished,” Julie says in a phone conversation from Texas in late February.
Accomplishment is something Julie has known very well her whole life.
She was brought up in the tiny Kansas town of Centralia (population 534), a dot on the map between the Pony Express Home Station Museum and a Kickapoo Indian Reservation.
Julie started playing piano at age 5, entered and won several beauty pageants, including “Miss Urban Cowboy,” and moved to the big city of Dallas at 18.
“I turned 18 on the stage of the Miss Kansas Pageant,” she recalls.
Her ability to successfully network grew even stronger in the Metroplex (the booming Dallas-Fort Worth area), and she even had a walk-on part in an episode of what was then the nation’s top-rated and now legendary TV show, “Dallas,” starring Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing.
“I don’t know why I’m so versatile, but I’m not perfect and I had wonderful teachers and inspiration,” Ingram says.
“I’m very fortunate, and I really mean that,” she continues. “It makes a person a genius when you hire good people, when you listen and take advice. Sometimes it’s hard to do. I’ve never been good at taking no. I think you learn that in show business.”
Shortly after Dan Wunsch and Brad Fisher co-founded the Nashville Music Guide in 1995, Julie played her first-ever Nashville showcase at the Union Station Hotel.
One of the fans at that very first showcase was Brad, who spoke to her that evening and went on to become a great friend to Julie until he passed last year.
Soon after that first meeting with Brad in 1995, Julie began a remarkably consistent advertising relationship with the Nashville Music Guide, which continues to the present day with new owner Randy Matthews. She recently had several full-page ads promoting her new album “Always Remember” on NMG’s back cover.
“I think that advertising has been the whole key,” Ingram says. “I’ve gotten so many compliments from people for staying true to the Nashville Music Guide.”
Brad’s passing last year was very hard on Julie, but as always her music and her support for charities helped her thru tough times.
She made several appearances on behalf of charities during the Super Bowl festivities a few weeks ago in North Texas, then thrilled to appear at a MusiCares event at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.
Her hectic travel schedule will continue in early March, when she returns to Music City for the Country Radio Seminar.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” Julie says.
She’s also been busy at radio, with her current single “I Love You” making its way up the charts. Ingram was slated to release the next single right before CRS, on her own LongShot Records.
Julie fans often get a kick out of figuring out which of her musical influences has impacted her on each new song.
“From the very beginning, Johnny Cash, Willie and Waylon were among my heroes,” she says. “There was a little rock in there too. I loved Bob Seger and Rod Stewart too, as well as Carole King.”
Now countless young female artists and actresses look upon Julie Ingram as one of their heroes.
And Julie knows who her own personal favorite was and still is.
“I got the little crook in my nose ‘cause I hit it with the vacuum cleaner,” she says. “My friends said, `don’t you wanna fix that?’ I said no, I would never touch my face. That nose looks like Barbra.”
By Phil Sweetland