Scott Collier is seen by thousands of Nashville visitors and visiting celebrities from all over the world on the stage of the legendary honkytonk Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, but a great deal of his recent inspiration has come from the small town of Welcome, N.C., and its most famous resident and business, Richard Childress Racing (RCR).
RCR was the racing team behind Dale Earnhardt, the late NASCAR superstar driver known as “The Intimidator” who many consider the greatest stock-car racer in history.
Scott channeled his love for country music, for the legend of Earnhardt and Richard Childress Racing, and for the small-town magic of Welcome and his own hometown of Chillicothe, Ohio, into his new song and video “Welcome To Welcome,” a powerhouse tempo tune ideal for today’s country radio.
The video is now posted on YouTube and on the NashvilleMusicGuide.com’s video section.
“Growin’ up, my hero was always The Intimidator,” Collier says in a conversation at Nashville Music Guide’s offices. “My Daddy started me racing Motocross when I was 8 or 9 years old, and he still runs a dirt track there.”
Famous folks often come into Tootsie’s, where Scott plays 240 shows per year. Each show lasts more than 4 hours, an exhausting schedule. Kevin Costner was there recently. So was ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. One visiting celebrity who changed Scott’s life the most had nothing to do with music. It was Richard Childress.
“Richard Childress Racing,” the company’s Web site tells us, “became synonymous with success and championships with the legendary No. 3 Chevrolet. RCR earned 12 championships, more than 200 victories, and was the first organization to win titles in NASCAR’s three main series.”
Yet the first time Scott met Richard at Tootsie’s, Collier wasn’t singing because he was on vocal rest. He was sleeping the floors and working as a bar back. But like all smart Nashville artists and songwriter, he was prepared.
“I had a CD in my back pocket of a song I’d written with Marty Brown called ‘`They Don’t Call Him Junior Anymore,’ which is about Hank Williams, Jr. and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.,” Collier says. “Three years later, Richard came back in during NASCAR Sound & Speed Week, and I got him up on stage to sing with me.”
Childress, a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver himself from 1969-81 before getting into ownership, spoke to Collier for a while about racing and music. Richard said, “Well, you’ve showed me what you do,” and returned the favor by inviting Scott to RCR’s garage in Welcome.
“I finally made the journey,” Collier says. “Everybody that’s a NASCAR fan needs to go to the RCR Museum. Welcome, N.C., is to NASCAR like Nashville is to country music. Richard invited me to come into his office, and I was overwhelmed. Him and Dale won six Winston Cup Championships.”
Scott’s song and video captures the town beautifully. “Welcome to Welcome, North Carolina, God’s country to a boy like me,” Collier sings in the chorus. “Ain’t it amazing how a town and time can define ya? Welcome to Welcome, North Carolina.”
One of the song’s biggest fans is Childress himself, who loves it. A Clear Channel station that spun the song once received over 400 e-mails requesting they play it again.
Long before he took that journey to Welcome, Scott had dreamt of making it to Nashville. He grew up singing Gospel in church and country in home, and Collier’s favorite all-time song is probably the Gospel favorite “Call Me Gone,” by the Hinsons.
As a kid, Ronnie Milsap and Bobby Bare became musical heroes, and nearly everybody in the family either sang or played an instrument. His high school band became so popular in Ohio that by 1997 Scott was named Entertainer of the Year by the Ohio CMA.
He first moved to Music City in 1999, and became a favorite on Printer’s Alley before landing the prized Tootsie’s gig in 2002. Delighted fans can see Scott play there Monday’s from 10 p.m – 2 a.m.; Wednesdays from 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.; Fridays from 6-10 p.m.; and Saturdays from 10 p.m. – 2:30 a.m.
“I love connecting with people onstage,” Scott says. “That’s what I’m put on earth to do.”
He played at the Tootsie’s 50th Anniversary Celebration last year at the Ryman, sharing the stage with superstars including Jamey Johnson, Mel Tillis, and Kris Kristofferson, and has earned an endorsement deal with Gibson Epiphone Guitars.
Scott, a proud father of two, is now signed to Jordy Boy Records in Nashville, and working on an album with ace songwriter and producer Danny Wells, whose credits include Rascal Flatts’ No. 1 “These Days.”
So from Welcome, N.C., to Nashville’s famed Lower Broadway and everywhere in between, the musical future is bright indeed for Scott Collier.
By Phil Sweetland | firstname.lastname@example.org