The country music couple celebrates Christmas with yuletide duets.
Some people say the key to having a happy marriage is sharing favorite interests. Kelly Lang and T.G. Sheppard wholeheartedly agree with that philosophy. Even as they pursue solo careers, the beloved country music couple are happiest during their duets — especially when they’re wishing joy to the world with songs at Christmastime.
They recently released a new season-appropriate song, “Christmas Without You,” which is now available on various music platforms.
And just a few days ago, the couple visited their good friend former Arkansas governor Mike Huckaee on his TBN show to perform an earlier release, “Christmas in Mexico.”
“We love Governor Huckabee and his entire team,” Lang said. “Whenever you are on his show, it feels like you are having a conversation with family. Over the last few years, we have been putting out Christmas singles each year with the intention of a full Christmas album. ‘Christmas In Mexico’ is the first one we released, and we wanted to share it with you once again! We wish you and your family a happy and healthy Christmas season, and we look forward to seeing you soon!”
Sheppard recently celebrated the 40th Anniversary of his No. 1 single “Slow Burn,” which was released in September 1983, and was the title track of his hit album as well. “Slow Burn” became Sheppard’s 13th No. 1 hit, spending 14 weeks in the Top 40 and continuing to be one of Sheppard’s most requested songs.
Lang, a 19-year breast cancer survivor, recently made her official Grand Ole Opry debut for Opry Goes Pink, an annual event that raises money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation to aid in the fight against breast cancer. Her latest album, Dragonfly, includes her powerful “Life Sentence,” an inspirational song that reflects Lang’s positive attitude towards her own battle with breast cancer and is intended to give hope to others dealing with similar situations.
We recently shared some quality time with Kelly Lang and T.G. Sheppard in Nashville. Here are some highlights from our conversation, edited for brevity and clarity.
Cowboys & Indians: This is really an interesting partnership. I mean, obviously you work together, but you also have thriving careers as solo artists. How do you keep that balance?
TG Sheppard: It’s not hard. There’s no competition in our house with what we do. She’s done it for so long. I mean, really and truly, since she was 14 years old, she’s been performing, and been successful as a songwriter and an author and record producer. So there’s no competition with us. I’ve had my success that I’ve had — and I’m still able to work a lot, and do what I do. Really and truly, I’m proud for her. I want her to go as far as she can. Heck, I might quit and be her road manager. I’ll be a roadie for her. There’s no ego here.
C&I: But do you ever think that, “Well, maybe it would be an even better marriage if one of us were, like, a professional golfer or something?”
Kelly Lang: [Laughs] No. As a matter of fact, we have so much in common, we have great empathy for one another. If somebody’s coming off the road and they’re tired, well, each of us understands what it must have felt like to be on stage and to be traveling through airports. It’s not easy anymore to travel.
Sheppard: It’s really a blessing to come home and be married to somebody who understands what you do for a living. They’ve stood on that stage themselves.
Lang: Right. We’ve both been in relationships where we didn’t have that in common with a prior partner, and it was difficult. It’s difficult to have them understand how your creative brain works. Some days, I’ll wake T.G. up in the middle of the night, and say, “Hey! Hey! I need to run this song past you.” And he’s so patient. Whereas somebody else might go, “Oh my goodness, shut up.”
Sheppard: Or like, “Kelly, I know it’s three o’clock in the morning, but you’ve got to hear this idea.”
Lang: But it really has worked for us. With other couples, I think there may be competition. But I just really have great respect for what he’s already accomplished, and I learn from him every day. I learn what mistakes he’s made and what things he’s done great. And it just seems to enhance what I’m doing. So it’s a wonderful relationship.
C&I: You have another joint project on the horizon, right? A streaming TV show?
Sheppard: It’s called TG and Kelly Live from 615, and we’ll have a guest artist each week, or an actor or a sports figure, who’s a friend of ours who has been in the national spotlight and is a known celebrity. And then we’ll have all kinds of tidbits about what we’ve been doing that week, and what we’ll do a different way. I’ll do a segment in the show called a storytelling segment, where I will tell one of my stories about either Neil Diamond or John Denver or Elvis or whoever, a real intimate story that no one’s ever heard. So we’re excited to start filming those in the next few weeks.
C&I: Over the years, I have talked with many artists — singers, actors, directors, you name it — who, deep down, doubt themselves so much that they often fear, someday, they’ll be exposed. That everyone will find out that they’re really not that good. Has that ever been a problem for either of you?
Sheppard: I think we all do that.
Lang: I’m in a different spot than he's in, though. He’s had solidified hits, 21 No. 1 hits. I have yet to have that. I’ve had successes along the way as a writer, but there’s still things that elude me, that make think, “Man, will I ever?” Just the Opry. I’ve really, really wanted that for a long time. I’d kind of gotten to a place where I was thinking, “Okay, well, maybe that’s passed me by.” I’m so glad I never gave up, because it’s a wonderful thing to be able to say that I was able to do that now. But you do second guess. And I think being a creative person, you’re insecure by nature. I think a lot of people put their hearts out there for people to judge. And I think you’re always going to feel a little insecure and wonder if you’re doing a good enough job.
Sheppard: I think that when you hear that phrase “People find me out,” well, I think people who say that are the real true stars of our business.
C&I: Like yourself?
Sheppard: [Laughs] I don’t really feel that I’m a star or some kind of legendary singer. I look at George Jones and Merle Haggard and those greats that came before me — they paved the way for us
Lang: So I don't have to call you “Legend” at home anymore?
Sheppard: No, you don’t anymore. Just “Hey, you!”
Lang: Okay. Just clarifying that.
C&I: Finally, what are your next goals? What’s the next ladder each of you wants to climb?
Lang: I have lofty goals. I have intentions to perform more in Europe. I would love to play at the Albert Hall. I just sense that my music is not necessarily country. It’s not necessarily needing to be in just one genre. I really enjoy traveling. So that would be a way for me to sing and travel abroad. That’s a real goal for me in the future.
Sheppard: My goal now is the same goal I had the day I started, and that goal is to make a difference in someone’s life with a song, even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time.
Lang: Can I have your answer? Because I’d rather that be mine.
Sheppard: [Laughs] No. But that’s really and truly what I look forward to, and want to keep achieving. That ability to walk on stage and just make a difference in somebody’s life for a few minutes with a song. That’s what I keep striving for, and hope to continue doing. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do with my life.