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Are you looking for a motivational speaker to WOW the crowd? Larry Gatlin is a master storyteller, a comedian with impeccable timing and an artist with a story to tell in every song. Larry brings all three talents to every stage he graces with his tremendous presentation. He tells stories, including his life story, he cracks jokes and he sings his winning songs, all in the same program.
Larry Gatlin's talent has brought him many rewards: international fame, a Grammy, a truckload of #1 songs, a starring role on Broadway and two films.
The senior Gatlin kid has been plying his trade since he turned pro at age seven. The Gatlin boys began singing on a Sunday morning radio show out of Abilene, Texas, for the slight but steady sum of 10 cents per week. But Gatlin wasn't in it for the bucks, gospel music had been around in his home for as long as he can remember - singing came naturally. The music was infectious, inspiring - I just knew that that's what I wanted to do."
Though Larry Gatlin continued to perform at "little gigs and talent shows," it wasn't the full-time life of music that the singer yearned for. In a state of confused resignation, he entered the University of Houston on a football scholarship and eventually entered law school. "I was trying to go to college and trying to be respectable somehow, but I knew that was not what I wanted to do, I wanted to be a musician," offers Gatlin. "Also, it's very difficult to know how to get into the music business. If you want to be a doctor you go to med school, if you want to become a musician, what do you do? So I had started law school, knowing all the time I was going to try and get this other thing going."
Early 1971 found Gatlin still working on statutes instead of scales when he found out that the gospel group the Imperials were looking for a baritone singer. "I was trying out with the Imperials for a month when they were working for Jimmy Dean and Elvis Presley in Vegas," Gatlin says. "I didn't get the job, but that's when I met Dottie West."
"I made up a song one night and she said, 'You're making that up, aren't you?' I said 'Yeah.' She said 'Send me some songs and I'll try to help you."' West was true to her word, and soon Gatlin - brothers Steve and Rudy were still in college - had the life of a lawyer in his rear view mirror as the Nashville skyline approached. Dottie had sent him a one-way plane ticket to Music City.
Working days as a janitor at the Nashville CBS-TV affiliate, music filled his nights. Gatlin found songwriting very easy. "I was an English major in school, I love to read and write and I just fell into it, just had a knack for it." He is quick to admit that working with the large hunk of Seventies Music City songwriting muscle helped grease the muse some. "Dottie threw me into the company of folks at Combine Music/Monument Records like Red Lane, Mickey Newbury, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and Roger Miller. I met all those guys the first six weeks I was there. So if you have any knack for it at all, being around those guys it has to rub off on you a little bit."
Gatlin released his maiden album The Pilgram in '74, and hit #1 the next year with "Broken Lady," a song that fetched him a Grammy in 1976. In the middle of the decade, the Gatlin boys once again joined forces. Armed with an array of college degrees, life experience, and in the studio little sister LaDonna (who, along with Rudy and Steve had been opening for Tammy Wynette), the hits started flowing. In '77, the group went to #1 again with I Just Wish You Were Someone I Love. It would happen again in '79 with All The Gold In California.
But a Gatlin show was not merely a chance to witness some of the finest singing and songwriting around, Larry explains that he and his brothers were steeped in the tradition of Entertaining. "That really came natural. We're just full of good West Texas b.s., and we don't mind sharing it with the folks. One of my great influences was Jimmy Dean. That man knows how to entertain, and I got to see him for that month I was trying out for the Imperials in Vegas. He was wonderful, he knew how to work an audience."
Beginning in 1993, Gatlin spent part of four successive Christmas holidays entertaining military personnel via USO tours. Those treks took him literally around the world, making stops in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Somalia and Japan. In '94, Larry's trip to Haiti made him the first American entertainer to travel for the USO to visit troops on that island.
Gatlin believes that everything that's come his way has been a gift from his maker, whether it was what he prayed for or not. "I'm busy, I love being involved in lots of different things, I do the best I can, same as the next person, and I believe that if I persist, I will succeed."
During his speech, "One Dream Per Customer," Larry Gatlin talks about his meteoric rise in the music industry. The colorful storyteller entertains his audiences with humorous anecdotes about his encounters with countless celebrity friends and shares the insight he gained from his personal triumph over addiction. The laughter, coupled with a few songs along the way, leave the audience with a true picture of the legendary Larry Gatlin. He will definitely be the bright spot of any general session or meeting.