Hal Ketchum Bouncing Back From Hard Times to Release New Album
After a five-year break from music due to illness, Hal Ketchum is back with a new album.
Ketchum was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 15 years ago, and his symptoms were getting worse when he began his five-year break from the industry.
“I went through some really serious bouts of paralysis, blindness and the fear that goes with all of that,” he says. “I was in kind of a dark place. I didn’t write, didn’t perform. I was just laying low, living in a cabin out in Wimberley, Texas.”
The 61-year-old began to feel better after focusing on his health for a couple of years, but he didn’t feel like himself without music, and he began to write again.
“I came to the realization that I had gotten to this deep level of depression, and I finally said to myself, ‘I can still do this. I can still write,'” he says. “The key for me was getting up every morning and having something real to do. Some days, my hands don’t work as well as they should, I’ll get a little wobbly on occasion, but I just keep going.”
Ketchum has had great success in country music, with over five million albums sold and fifteen Top 10 singles, but he wasn’t sure that he wanted to jump back into the competitive atmosphere that comes with putting out an album. When Jimmy LaFave and Kelcy Warren of Austin-based Music Road Records heard some of his songs, they set to work convincing him to do just that.
“We had a great talk, and they said ‘Hal, you’ve made these great country records, but we really want to challenge you to reach outside of your comfort zone and write from your heart,” Ketchum says. “So that was my goal.”
As opposed to Ketchum’s mainstream country work of the past, ‘I’m the Troubadour’ relies heavily of influences from folk, blues, rock and soul. The album is set for release on Oct. 7.
“I think it’s going to be refreshing for people who haven’t heard me in a while to know that the old man’s still swingin’,” he says.