Like her contemporary Shania Twain, singer/songwriter Terri Clark came storming out of Canada and captured the attention of America's country music industry in the mid-'90s. Where Twain incorporated more rock & roll elements into her music, Clark largely stayed close to her country roots, even if those roots were more new country than hardcore honky tonk. Raised in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Clark (born in Montreal, August 5, 1968) was part of a musical family. Her grandparents, Ray and Betty Gauthier, were country stars in Canada, opening shows for stars like George Jones and Little Jimmy Dickens, while her mother sang folk songs in local coffee houses. As a child, Terri listened to her grandparents' country records and taught herself how to play guitar. Throughout her adolescence, Clark sang, played, and listened to country music; she was particularly inspired by female artists like Reba McEntire, the Judds, and Linda Ronstadt.
Following her high-school graduation in 1987, she moved to Nashville. Upon her arrival, she wandered into Tootsie's Orchid Lounge unannounced and asked if she could sing. Surprisingly, she impressed the management and landed a job as the club's house singer. Though her initial arrival in Nashville was successful, it took Clark quite a long time to work her way into the actual industry. For the next seven years, she sang at clubs and worked odd jobs, all the while trying to land a record contract. During this time, she met and married a fiddler named Ted Stevenson. In 1994, she landed an audition for Mercury Records. After seeing a live performance by Clark, the label's president signed the singer.
Clark's eponymous debut album was released in the summer of 1995. Terri Clark was a hit upon its release, spawning the Top Ten hits "Better Things to Do," "When Boy Meets Girl," and "If I Were You," as well as going gold. Clark supported the album with a tour opening for George Strait. In 1996, she was nominated for the Country Music Association's Horizon Award, as well as the Academy of Country Music Awards' Best New Female Vocalist. She won a bevy of Canadian Country Music Awards in 1996, including Album of the Year and Single of the Year; she was also named the Top New Female Country Artist of 1995 by Billboard magazine. Her second album, Just the Same, was released in the fall of 1996, preceded by the hit single "Poor Poor Pitiful Me." How I Feel followed in 1998. Fearless brought the country chart single "A Little Gasoline" in fall 2000, and Pain to Kill was released in 2003. Mercury unleashed Clark's Greatest Hits 1994-2004 the next year, followed by Life Goes On in 2005. Clark fought her her way through personal and professional difficulties and left Mercury Nashville, consequently forming her own label, Bare Tracks, which was distributed by Capitol. Her first offering as an independent artist was the triumphal Long Way Home in 2009, followed the DVD Live at Cedar Creek in 2010. In the summer of 2011, Clark moved to the independent imprint Humphead, and released Roots & Wings.
~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine