Exclusive Interview With Toby Keith: A Look At His Career From The Beginning

Robin Marsh sat down for a one-on-one interview with country music star Toby Keith, who talks about the early days of his career, his journey in country music, and how he found the strength to return to performing after he was diagnosed with stomach cancer.

Friday, January 26th 2024, 7:22 am

Renowned country music artist Toby Keith is opening up about his career in country music and how he found the strength to return to the stage after his cancer diagnosis. 

In an exclusive interview, the Grammy-winning artist reflected on his journey, sharing personal anecdotes, milestones, and the impact of his music on himself and his fanbase. 

Related Story: Toby Keith Opens Up About His Cancer Battle And Decades-Long Career

The Moore native’s career has spanned decades, from chart-topping hits to memorable performances.

“Out of the blue, one day, they called me and said, ‘We're going to want you to sing the jingle,’” Keith said. “As silly as it was, I was just glad to get on TV.”

He said he saw fellow Oklahoman and country music star Reba McEntire sing it and knew he needed to do it next. This was around 30 years ago, in 1993, when his career was first taking off.

He reflected on the early days of his illustrious career and said it almost didn’t happen. 

In his late 20s, with no record deal and two kids at the time, Keith said he was barely making any money and prayed for direction. 

"It even got to the point where I was like, 'if I get to 30 and I haven't done this, I am going to switch occupations,'” Keith recalled.

Days away from his 30th birthday, Mercury Music heard a cassette of his music and came to Oklahoma to give him a record deal. 

“He signed me the next morning; he said, ‘I'm going to sign you to a record deal, and I am going to produce you,’” Keith said. 

Previously turned down by major record labels like Capital Records, the cassette he was signed for featured songs that would all go on to be hits such as “Should Have Been A Cowboy.” 

Keith said from then on, he hammered away to become the artist he is today. 

“All those songwriter awards, number one songs, it's because I worked and put out an album every year,” Keith said. 

Keith is now one of the world's top five richest country singers with 42 top 10 hits, 32 number-one songs, 40 million albums sold, and more than ten billion streams.

In 2021, he was diagnosed with stomach cancer and took a step back from performing while in treatment. He said his fans have supported him the entire time. 

“The love that poured out from the whole world when I announced it was overwhelming at first,” Keith said. “I didn't know anybody really cared that much.” 

As Toby has continued treatment over the last two and a half years, he said he started feeling better and did a handful of shows. 

He surprised fans with three concerts in Las Vegas last December that sold out in seconds. Keith performed for over three hours and did not miss a beat.

While he loves traveling and performing all over the world, he said he will always be loyal to Oklahoma.

“I never felt good about moving to another city and living there,” Keith said. “This is where I was raised.”


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