Monday, September 12, 2005


Dan E. Randle

My daughter, Susan, moved to Nashville four years ago hoping to break into Country Music. During the time she has lived there. She has struggled to keep ahead of her bills, while being mother to two growing boys. She has performed in numerous benefits, free programs and cutting demos for other song writers who also are trying to get established in the music field.

Now, after four years, she was thinking about moving back to Coos Bay and the family circle she has here: mom, dad, uncles, aunts and cousins. Then, one day, she signed up for a new TV program CMT is putting on, one featuring the people who have come to Nashville to break into Country Music, so far unsuccessfully.

She had gone through a couple of interviews just before she and her two boys flew out for a visit the twelfth of July. I was on vacation starting the fourteenth through the twenty-second of July.

The evening of the twenty-second, we were having a get-together at Sean's house, (youngest son) for a Salmon barbecue. Susan (known professionally as Suzanne) received a call from Deanna, the person in charge of the TV program, informing her that she needed to be back in Nashville for an interview Tuesday morning, the nineteenth.

Since this was an unexpected call, she had to get back to Nashville. The big problem, she didn't have the extra funds available, so dear old dad stepped up to the plate and purchased her a round trip ticket back to Nashville. Her flight was on the redeye Sunday night out of Portland. This would give her a day to rest and get ready for the interview. Then she would fly back to Portland on the redeye Tuesday night, where she would meet up with her boys and fly back to Nashville on Thursday.

Saturday, the family went crabbing out in Coos Bay. We had to drive a couple of miles through the sand to get to the area where we were making out picnic area and where Scott ( my oldest) would meet us in his boat. About half of the trip was across the beach next to the Bay. which is only accessible by four wheel drive. We had three such vehicles, two of which were pulling trailers. One had three Polaris four wheelers, and the other was pulling the boat trailer.

We got a later start than we should have since the tide had turned by the time we got there.

The sun was shining, the wind was a little high, the waves were a little bigger than we would have liked. but we stayed anyway. because Susan doesn't get to experience this in Nashville. She always enjoyed a day on the water fishing or crabbing.

We built a nice bonfire and started enjoying ourselves. While the boys rode the four wheelers, the adults sat around enjoying each other's company and catching up on everything.

Since the water and wind were so rough, the crabbing was almost non-existent. This forced us to use our back-up plan of steaks, hamburgers and wieners, then marshmallows. We waited so long the tide had come in and we were stranded out on the beach. We had to stay where we were , enjoying a little wine, beer and conversation until the tide went out far enough for us to leave. We were finally able to leave at eleven thirty, giving me another story to tell in later years.

Sunday, a friend of Susan's mother drove her to Portland for her flight back home. About nine pm Sunday, Susan's mom called and informed me that Susan had already won the competition. At this point, my whole being hit one of the highest levels I have ever experienced. My ex- received a call from Deanna informing her about the win and that she wasn't to tell anyone. Naturally this changed my plans for a Seattle trip. See, with a whole week of vacation left, I had told Susan that I would be going to Seattle to shop at Boeing's surplus store and look for some woodworking equipment that I wanted to get. Something I had wanted to do for a long time, but just kept putting off.

I called Deanna to find out where the performance would be held and what hotel I should get reservations in. She wanted to know how I found out about the win. After I told her, she told me that she was going into a meeting and would have to get back to me. Ten minutes later, my ex called and informed me that, since she had told me about the win, it was off.

Can you imagine the drop from a high elation to a heart wrenching low so low I could have crawled under the belly of a slug? To think I had just blown my daughter's chance to get a start in something she had wanted for a long time was more than I could bear. Then, an hour later, I received the call letting me know that the win was still on. What a relief!

I immediately went on the Internet and started getting my trip together. By three am Monday morning, I had my trip planned and reserved.

The airline I had looked at had flights leaving at six am, nine am and twelve on Tuesday. I picked the twelve o'clock. Monday morning, I went in to work and informed them that I needed another week of vacation. They wanted to know what for; my explanation was that I'd tell them when I got back. I then went back home and started getting ready for the trip to Portland and on to Nashville.

Now, Portland is a four hour-plus drive from Coos Bay. After getting everything packed, I reviewed my itinerary ... only to find that I had made a big mistake in my flight. Instead of twelve noon, it was twelve midnight.

Fortunately, I could leave my car parked at the motel in Portland for the length of my trip. So, I went to the room, jumped in bed and, for some reason, started going over in my mind what I had packed. Then it hit me: I had packed the breather I need to keep breathing at night, but had forgotten to pack the power cord.

By then, it was almost eight pm and all the stores were closing. I made some calls around to Radio Shacks, and finally found one that would stay open for the time it would take for me to drive there. It was eight thirty before I got there, to find the employee patiently waiting, happy to help me get a necessary item for my health. You don't find that very often.

During the flight, I was unable to sleep because my knees were pressed into the seat in front of me, seats that were too close to each other to begin with. This meant that, by the time I got to Nashville, I'd had only had about two hours sleep since Sunday.

One of the requirements from Deanna was I had to stay in the hotel until the program on Thursday night, since they were filming Susan around Nashville. Wednesday afternoon, Susan called my cellular to tell me that she had won the contest. to which I replied, "That's great. Darn, I wish I hadn't made the trip to Seattle now. I would rather have come there to watch you, but it's too late to get a flight now. Good Luck, I know you will knock them dead!"

They bought the outfit she would wear and, Thursday, they had her face and hair done.

Thursday evening, they came and escorted us the three blocks to the Wild Horse Saloon where the performance would be. When we arrived, they ushered us to the foot of the stage. We waited for a few minutes and then Blake Shelton (young upcoming Country Music singer) came out on stage and introduced Susan as Suzanne Randle (her stage name). He explained a little of what she had gone through to get there, and then brought Susan on stage.

Well, when she saw us, she almost lost it. But she came over and kissed me while explaining to the audience who we were, and then went on to sing four songs, one of which she had written.

After the performance, we went backstage to her dressing room and were able to talk a little. Deanna interviewed us about Susan's life. Afterwards, we were able to talk with Blake, his manager, and various other people responsible for putting the show together.

Deanna and her team spent the month of August editing all the footage they had shot around town, the show itself, and then in Susan's apartment Friday.

I still haven't received a date when the show will air but, as soon as I do, I will inform let you know, just in case any of you wants to catch the performance CMT (Country Music Television).

All in all, this was one of the high points of my life. I never mentioned that we had planned Susan as a girl from the start. When she was born, this was another high point. Also, Susan was named after a friend I really liked: Susan Jones.

I thought you'd like to know, though.


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