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Old 02-24-2016, 11:23 PM   #13
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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 26 August 2015

Sylvia had eleven top-ten Billboard hits from 1980-1985, including “Snapshot” and the number one “Nobody.” I hadn’t heard anything about her in years, until Diane Jordan mentioned on Facebook they’d recently had lunch together. I asked Diane to put me in touch with Sylvia, and that led to an enjoyable phone conversation. Sylvia Hutton has built an additional career as a personal & professional development coach.

“From the time I was three, I thought of myself as a singer and knew I was going to have a life in music, somehow, some way,” she says. She moved to Nashville right out of high school, almost forty years ago. When she signed a record deal with RCA Records, she was asked what name she planned to use. Her married name of Sylvia Allen was too similar to labelmate Deborah Allen, so she suggested her maiden name, Sylvia Kirby. No, that sounds like a vacuum cleaner, she was told. They’re going to make up a name for me, she realized. She couldn’t abide that, and she asked, “How about just Sylvia?” They said okay.

After the hits dried up, Sylvia tried songwriting for awhile. She started her own record label, Red Pony Records, and made an independent record. When she took it around to record labels in 1996, “there was absolutely no interest,” she says. “I realized that was not the road life wanted to take me down now. I didn’t know what was next. I was kind of at an impasse. It felt like I hit a dead end.”

She took a battery of tests to measure her interests. Not surprisingly, she was told she should be in the creative arts. However, it did surprise her to learn she had an almost equal interest in service to others. The interviewer asked if she had any idea what she wanted to be, if not in music. Sylvia remembered when she was learning about the music business, thinking how great it would be if she could have the knowledge of those who went before her. She and everyone else was struggling along, figuring out things for themselves and reinventing the wheel. She carried with her the seed of being a mentor, but didn’t know what to do with the idea. Now, when asked, she told the interviewer, “It would be great if I could use all this life experience I have in music to be of service to up-and-coming singers.”

That’s when she learned about coaching. She trained at The Hudson Institute in Santa Barbara, California, in 2002 and became certified as a Personal & Professional Development Coach. “What’s beautiful about coaching is that I create the space in which they change themselves,” she says. “We often talk about what’s wrong. We put all this attention on what we need to fix.” We should be asking ourselves, “What are my gifts? What do I find consistent joy in doing?” Answering such questions can change a person’s entire outlook.

“During the ’80s,” Sylvia says, “my gifts were being expressed through having a record label deal and having records on the radio. I’m still using my voice–just expanding it.”

She is also still recording and performing. She has released several CDs on her Red Pony label and has played dates here and there over the past years, but she didn’t have a booking agent. That is about to change.

Sylvia’s new manager is Brian Horner, and her booking agent is Brent Taylor of the Joe Taylor Artist Agency. She’s started recording a new album, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year. She plans to go on tour to promote it. “We’re really gearing up for next year,” she says. She’s hoping some of the people who came to see her at those county fairs, back when she did 60 fairs in 90 days for several years in a row, will come to see her again.

“I’m very happy, I love my life, I love my coaching work,” Sylvia Hutton says. “I love that I’m still able to sing and that people are still interested in hearing me sing. I’m excited about the prospect of doing more concerts in the future.”
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