“From Nashville To You” was La Toya’s eighth studio album, recorded entirely in Nashville, Tennessee and executive-produced by Jack Gordon, Tommy Martin and La Toya.
Veteran country music producer Martin, who had previously worked with the likes of Roy Clark, Willie Nelson, James Brown and Glenn Miller, was recruited as producer of the album. The set was recorded near the end of March 1994 at Creative Recording Studios with a live band and three backing vocalists.
Martin called on his friend, Lee Greenwood, to record the duet “What You Don’t Say.” Greenwood stated that La Toya was “presented with a great challenge … to be accepted into the country music community. I don’t think she is going to have any trouble. First of all, on these songs she is very unique. There is not a voice like hers.”
When asked by TimesDaily why she chose to record a country album, La Toya said, “Why not? Country is something I have always liked, something I have always wanted to do. Actually, a lot of people don’t know this, but the Jacksons started with country music. My mother started singing country music to us when we were very, very young in Indiana. And it’s something that kinda sticks with you, or with me, at least it did. I’ve always wanted to do it and I never had the opportunity to do it or the chance to.”
Gordon described the album as “very up, very country, very Garth Brooks-like.”
In addition to Martin being stiffed for a few grand, comments on YouTube uploads of the album’s recordings have appeared from musicians who performed on the album who claim to have been left high-and-dry as well.
The album has been reissued twice since its original 1994 release, both times in the UK and Europe.
Church of La Toya interviewed Tommy Martin in 2007 about his work on the album and his personal relationship with La Toya and Gordon. Below is an excerpt from the article we posted at that time:
Information about La Toya’s early musical output is hard to come by, so when we at the Church of La Toya are able to dig up tidbits of any kind, we jump at the chance. Early in 2007, we conducted an interview with Jeffré Phillips, La Toya’s current manager, and were able to reveal numerous exclusive plans, such as the release of “I Don’t Play That” and a potential new book deal. In recent months, we have revealed plans for beauty lines, new television shows, movie roles and a jewelry line. Keeping that momentum going, we have tracked down one of La Toya’s former record producers in hopes of learning more about her musical past.
One particular time period of La Toya’s life has been hard to place. In 1994, the From Nashville to You album was released via Mar-Gor Records. Obviously, little was done by way of promotion and the album bombed, making it one of the more special items in La Toya’s catalogue. However, it has since come to light that it was recorded in only one week and was funded by both Jack Gordon and music producer Tommy Martin.
Not many have heard the name Tommy Martin before. Besides producing and releasing La Toya’s eighth LP, he has done work with R&B great James Brown and managed Roy Clark and jazz band Chase, who perished in a plane crash in the 1970s. Upon doing some research for the most recent incarnation of the Church of La Toya, we came across a website with Martin’s current contact information and decided to make a quick phone call, hoping that we could disturb him for a few moments and dig up some dirt about La Toya’s finest country moment. The phone rang and rang and just as we were about to give up, we heard a soft click and an older gentleman’s voice: “Hello?”
At first, Martin was leery of giving information about someone who he had worked for to someone he had never heard of. But we explained our position with the Church and our relationship with La Toya’s management team – and so came the outpouring of information and memories you’ll see as you read on.
We relayed some of the comments that La Toya has made about her time with her former manager/husband Jack Gordon to Martin, hoping he could verify some of her claims. His response was a simple one: “Anything La Toya would say is true. The whole country had her wrong. She has cried her eyes out to me because of situations she did not want to be in. She didn’t mind Playboy but she wasn’t planning on showing anything. She didn’t want to do the [Celebrity Centerfold] video.” After pushing for some comments about Gordon’s absurd management style, Martin gave in. “To his credit, he was good at promoting. I told him, ‘Jack, you could do anything. But you take the wrong approach.’ He wanted to take the dark side.”
When speaking of La Toya, though, he had nothing but good things to say. “She is one of the sweetest and most talented people I have ever been around. She had a three-octave voice. She could dance as good as Michael. She taught him some of his signature dance moves.” Now, we La Toya fans are known for suffering from delusions of grandeur, but even we know that Michael’s dance abilities have been worked out since childhood. We will still give Mr. Martin credit though, since he does have such kind words.
We eventually quit badgering him for more dirt and asked the questions that we had set out to ask in the first place. Where did Mar-Gor Records come from? Was La Toya forced into recording the country album, just as she had been with Stop in the Name of Love? According to Martin, La Toya wanted to record the album. She enjoyed her time with the live musicians and loved coming into the studio to learn the lyrics and rehearsing. As far as the record label goes, it “was formed between La Toya, Jack and me. La Toya had total control of the album, though. She and I owned it.”
He has since done some work on the original master tapes but is unsure of what he could do with them. “I have remixed a couple of those songs and in some places where she was weak, I pulled it up stronger. The duet is now so full and so good.” The track “What You Don’t Say,” a duet with country legend Lee Greenwood, is by far his favorite cut from the album.
From Nashville to You received a small-scale release to record stores and Martin eventually set up a website where fans could order it at a low cost, which is still up-and-running today. Not all memories of Mar-Gor Records are pleasant ones, however. Once again speaking of Jack Gordon, Martin says, “He stuck me for $65,000. But I was not about to sue.” Why? “Because I care about La Toya. So I just took it as a loss.” He has since shut down the Mar-Gor label and doesn’t intend to re-open for business anytime soon.
Martin didn’t just fill the role of producer to La Toya’s country project. He was also a close friend and confidante. “She used to confide in me about everything. I knew what was going on. I was sort of an escape for her. She called me the day she left Jack. I guess I’m one of the first and only people she told before she left him. We spoke right up to that day.” But he has not spoken to La Toya in some time. “I still call her every six months or so and leave a message, but I’m not sure if it’s even a current number.” We exchanged the information we had, and sure enough, it was an old number – to La Toya’s Las Vegas penthouse, which she still owns but no longer inhabits. Hopefully, through the Church of La Toya’s contacts with La Toya and Ja-Tail Records, old friends will be reunited and come together once more. Who knows – we may even see From Nashville to You 2!