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Country Newcomer Steve Azar is <i>Waitin' On Joe</i> - 2002-04-30

Country singer-songwriter Steve Azar might be new to the popularity charts, but he has spent most of his 38 years working toward a career in music.

He grew up surrounded by the unique musical heritage of the Mississippi Delta region, where he absorbed a wide range of influences. Steve moved to Nashville in 1994, and eventually found a record company and producer that understood his musical vision.

The title track of Steve Azar's Mercury Records debut, Waitin' On Joe, talks about the time people spend dreaming and working toward something that never happens. Steve wrote or co-wrote all 11 songs on the album. Many reflect his personal experiences.

He spent 15 years trying to break into the Country music industry. As leader of the Steve Azar Band, he performed 240 shows throughout the southeastern United States each year. But, the emotional and financial toll eventually became too much for Steve.

Following the suicide of one band member and the incarceration of another, he moved to Nashville to pursue a solo career. He met songwriter/producer Rafe Van Hoy, who, Steve says, was the miracle he was seeking. Rafe collaborated with Steve on several songs for his new CD, and also produced the album.

Like many of Steve's songs, "The Underdog" reflects the patience and perseverance it took to achieve a successful career in music.

He supported himself in Nashville for the past eight years by performing and writing songs. Steve was adamant about remaining close to his musical roots, and turned down offers by record companies that tried to change his sound. As his major influences, he lists Conway Twitty, Charley Pride, Johnny Russell, and other artists from the Mississippi Delta region where he grew up.

Waitin' On Joe is receiving a lot of critical praise. One review read, "Azar is the kind of new artist Country music needs right now." Another critic wrote, "He delivers honest emotion for the working man - songs you can relate to and cheer for."

Steve says he's eager to go on tour to promote his new album. In the meantime, he's enjoying the success of the album's debut single. Currently, his song "I Don't Have To Be Me ('Til Monday)" is a Top 10 hit on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart.