10 Things You Didn’t Know about Sammy Kershaw

At the age of 61, country music artist Sammy Kershaw has just become a dad again. The birth of his baby daughter, Natelia Mae, makes it fifth time around for Kershaw (although the first time he’s shared parenting duties with longtime girlfriend Mendy Gregory). Judging by the gushing messages and cute baby snaps he’s been sharing on social media, Kershaw is clearly delighted to be on dad-duty once again, going so far as to call his new daughter a “gift from God ‘. Fans of his music, meanwhile, will be pleased to know that while Kershaw plans on taking a much more active role in Natelia Mae’s upbringing than he did his other children’s (who were largely raised by his third wife), he’s got no plans on putting his music to one side in the process. Find out more about the country legend with these ten quick facts.

1. He started working when he was 11

Kershaw, who was born and raised in the Acadiana town of Kaplan, South Louisiana, suffered a tragedy early in life when his father passed away when Kershaw was just 11 years old. Shortly after, Kershaw became the family’s primary breadwinner, working a variety of day jobs while earning extra change playing roadhouses at night. It was during this period Kershaw met music legend, George Jones. The fortuitous meeting proved a turning point for the then 14-year-old Kershaw; within the space of a few months, he went from playing honky-tonks and dives to opening for the likes of Ray Price, Merle Haggard, and Jones himself.

2. He got clean in 1988

Opening shows for the likes of George Jones and Merle Haggard may have been a dream come true for the young Kershaw, but it inevitably came with the kind of pressures a teenager would struggle to deal with. Kershaw’s way of handling the stress was to turn to alcohol and drugs. His troubles with substance abuse dominated the early years of his career, and ultimately destroyed his first marriage. When they threatened to do the same to his 2nd, he made the decision to quit both drugs and the music business cold turkey; although he returned to music a few years later, he’s successfully managed to resist the temptations to return to his old habits ever since.

3. Music has always been his passion

Kershaw got into music in a big way when he was just four or five years old, and it continues to be his most abiding passion today. “Music was passion and still is,” he told That Nashville Sound “It’s been something I’ve always wanted to do since I can remember. I was four or five years old and singing with George Jones and Conway and those folks when my parents would play those old 45’s. I was singing right along with them.”

4. He’s got famous relatives

Kershaw isn’t the only famous name in his family. If you’re a fan of old country music, you may already be familiar with his third cousins, Rusty and Doug Kershaw. The two brothers performed as a country and bluegrass music duo (aptly named Rusty and Doug) and had several successes throughout their career, including 5 singles on the Hot Country Songs chart and membership of the Grand Ole Opry.

5. He tried to enter politics twice (both times unsuccessfully)

In 2007, Kershaw made his first attempt to get into politics when he ran as a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of Louisiana. After finishing third in the Jungle Primary, he was beaten in the general election by Democrat Mitch Landrieu. In 2010, he tried his luck again, placing third overall despite carrying more parishes than any other candidate.

6. He declared bankruptcy after his third marriage ended

Kershaw’s tumultuous marriage to fellow singer Lorrie Morgan ended in acrimony in 2007 after years of disharmony. The couple got together while Kershaw was still married to his third wife, Kim, and the pair eventually married on April 12, 2001 (the same day the court granted Kershaw a divorce from Kim). The relationship was difficult from the start, and in 2003, the couple applied for a mutual restraining order. Despite reuniting afterward, it would only be a few years before the frequent arguments led to divorce. Shortly after the end of the marriage, both Morgan and Kershaw filed for bankruptcy after the closure of Morgan’s restaurant, HotChickens.com.

7. He’s a fan of distinct vocals

Asked by The Nashville Sound to explain what country music means to him, Kershaw didn’t hesitate in his reply. “I like distinct vocals,” he shared. “I like people that sing with a good country soul. That’s what country is to me. It’s about everyday life with everyday people in America. That’s what’s it about. You have to make them cry and you have to make them laugh. Sometimes you have to hit them in between. That’s what country music, the truth. I sing the truth”.

8. He’s had twenty-five top 40 hits

Since Kershaw became a household name in the early 1990s, he’s knocked out a string of successes that include twenty-five Top 40 hit singles (10 of which reached the top ten, three of them peaking at number 2, and 1 (“She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful”) climbing all the way to number one); three platinum-selling records; and three gold albums.

9. He named his daughter after his grandmother

The name of Kershaw’s new baby daughter draws influence from both sides of her family tree. “Natelia was my grandmother’s name and Mae was Mendy’s grandmother’s name,” Kershaw told People. “She is a gift from God.” Kershaw has four other children from previous relationships; daughters Emily, Erin and Sammie, and son Brandon.

10. He missed out on his children’s childhood

Kershaw has embraced the birth of his fifth child as a way of finally doing what he didn’t quite manage with his other children: being a dad. “My third wife really raised my children and did a hell of a job,” Kershaw told People. “I have great kids but I was gone all the time so I can’t really take all of the credit for having great children. I have to give credit where credit is due and that’s my ex-wife Kim.”

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