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HomeGrown: Kim Williams, Country Hall of Fame songwriter

9:36 PM, May 21, 2013   |    comments
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From some of country's hottest songs to Nashville's Songwriters Hall of Fame, Kim Williams has made a great living doing what he loves.

"The fun is just sitting down and creating something out of nothing," he said.

And, his life plays like a good country song.

"I grew up 14 miles from nowhere. There ain't nothing to do, but pick and grin."

He learned to play guitar at age nine, but music wasn't his first love.

"To be an astronaut, that was my dream."

After a year of college, Kim turned to electronics and worked all over the country.

"I came back home to probably one of the safest places I ever worked and was almost killed."

In 1974, a factory explosion burned much of Kim's body. It took him 10 years and constant encouragement from his wife to get back on his feet.

"She's the one that pulled me through all the burns and wouldn't let me die when I wanted to."

Over that decade, Kim had 200 plus reconstructive surgeries.

"I really believe God had to hit hard enough to get me on the right trail."

During his recovery, Kim took a song writing class. And, in 1984, he started writing and then co-writing, traveling back and forth to Music City.

"It was about five years until the time I had my first number one."

The catchy tune titled "If the Devil Danced in Empty Pockets" by Joe Diffie struck gold.

"I couldn't have been dropped in that town at a better time."

Kim's career took off.

"I was writing with Joe. I was writing with Garth Brooks. I was writing with Tricia Yearwood. And, all of sudden, I get signed and they're signed to record labels."

Hit after hit, his songs became chart toppers.

"Kenny Chesney's first hit, 'Fall in Love,' Reba McEntire's, 'The Heart is Lonely.' It was number one for three weeks.
Brooks n Dunn- 'Honky Tonk Truth.'"

Over the years, Kim's worked with everyone from George Jones to George Strait with songs on more than 150 million albums. But a big chunk of his success has been with Garth Brooks.

"When Garth hit, it just fed the flames."

The two have written four number one hits together. Their first, "Papa Loved Momma" was a love gone wrong song inspired by a newspaper picture. The duo was on a roll. "It's Midnight Cinderella", "Ain't Going Down 'Til The Sun Comes Up", and "She's Gonna Make It" followed.

But it was Randy Travis' "Three Wooden Crosses" that wowed not only the country community, but also gospel.

"We won all the gospel, we won the Dove Award and the album won a Grammy, so it won every award you can imagine. It's a song about second chances and that's what I like about it."

Kim is certainly grateful for his.

"To me, all these awards were just icing on the cake."

His induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame last October holds special meaning, though. It really sinks in when he scrolls through the names of other inductees online.

"And it's Hank Williams Jr., Hank Williams Sr., Kim Williams and Bob Wills. And, I've got 'em now, I've got chill-bumps."

From his Clinch Mountain hideaway, Kim has had a lot of time to dream up songs.

"We've written a lot of great songs here."

He's also had time to reflect.

"I would've thought and thought for years that the worst thing that ever happened to me was that accident. And now, I ain't so sure about that. It might have been the best thing that ever happened to me. It's been a great career."

Kim Williams, born in Rogersville, HomeGrown in Tennessee.

"You can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy."

Kim and other song writers for Garth Brooks will perform at Nashville's famed Bluebird Cafe on June 4th.

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