The familiar maxim of the triple threat – singer, songwriter, musician – doesn’t begin to cover it for Toby Keith, one of the modern era’s most complete self-directed hit makers. And Keith’s most recent months are a remarkably accurate representation of his entire career. In September 2017 he released The Bus Songs which went on to set a Billboard Comedy Albums chart record for a country artist by holding the No. 1 spot for 11 consecutive weeks. The collection of humorous, just-for-fun compositions includes two new songs “Shitty Golfer” and “Wacky Tobaccy,” whose accompanying music video features Willie Nelson and quickly became a surprise runaway viral hit. Throughout the past year, Toby performed at Sing Me Back Home: The Music Of Merle Haggard in Nashville and he took the stage at Carnegie Hall for The Cake And The Rain: A Celebration Of The Music Of Jimmy Webb in New York City where he performed Webb’s classic, “MacArthur Park.” The Academy of Country Music also honored Keith with their Poet’s Award for songwriting in recognition of his outstanding and longstanding musical and lyrical contributions as a songwriter throughout his career, and his songs’ impact on the culture of country music. Rounding out the year full of music-related accomplishments was his 14th Annual Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic which raised $1.6 million, a record-breaking amount of funds for a single event in the Toby Keith Foundation’s history, to aid sick children and their families in Oklahoma.
This year, Toby honors the 25th anniversary of the release of his debut single with his aptly-named tour “Should’ve Been A Cowboy XXV Tour.” From the moment that song was released and shot up the charts to become his first No. 1, the engine driving everything has been the music. He writes it. He arranges and produces it. And he releases it on his own record label, Show Dog Nashville. At the core is his songwriting, as recognized in his 2015 induction into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame in New York City. That year Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, Willie Dixon, and other songwriters from all genres of music were also included in his induction class. The Nashville Songwriters Association International named him Songwriter/Artist of the Decade and he is a three-time BMI Country Songwriter/Artist of the Year. His songs have received more than 91 million BMI performances on commercial radio stations worldwide. Keith’s albums have sold more than 40 million copies. His tours have drawn more than a million fans each year for more than a decade straight, with recent expansion into Europe and Australia. The awards are too numerous to count and include Artist of the Decade nods from Billboard and the American Country Awards, as well as the ACM’s Career Achievement honor and twice their Entertainer of the Year award winner in back-to-back years. A musician’s musician, he was a last minute illness stand-in for the late Merle Haggard a few years back and responded to Merle’s query about which of the legend’s songs Keith knew and could cover with, “All of ’em.” And there have been some unexpected highlights along the way as well, including country’s most impactful viral event, “Red Solo Cup,” the video for which has received more than 46 million views and was named ACM Video of the Year. Toby’s most rewarding experiences, however, have come from giving back locally, nationally and abroad. His golf classics fund the Toby Keith Foundation and OK Kids Korral, a cost-free home for families of children dealing with critical illnesses. His 11 USO Tours to date have enhanced the lives of nearly 256,000 troops and military families in 18 countries with more than 285 events, and have been recognized with the Spirit of the USO Award (2014). And when a tornado ravaged his hometown, Toby Keith was the face of the community and helped shoulder the cleanup with the 2013 OK Twister Relief Concert. Triple threat? How about singer, songwriter, musician, producer, entertainer, humanitarian, Oklahoman and patriot. For starters.