Bonnie Bishop gets a friendly nudge from Bonnie Raitt

Bonnie Bishop has been making music for years, but recent accolades from Bonnie Raitt have helped up her profile. "It takes somebody at that level saying, 'Oh, this person is great. Pay attention.'"

Bonnie Bishop has been making music for years, but recent accolades from Bonnie Raitt have helped up her profile. "It takes somebody at that level saying, 'Oh, this person is great. Pay attention.'"

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Singer-songwriter Bonnie Bishop recently had one of her dreams come true.

"The day I signed my publishing deal my publisher said, 'OK now, let's go make some money' and I said, 'I don't care about money as long as I get a Bonnie Raitt cut.'"

Earlier this year, the song "Not 'Cause I Wanted To," which Bishop co-wrote with Al Anderson, was released on Raitt's album "Slipstream."

When Raitt had a CD-release show for the album, Bishop was invited and sat on the fifth row.

"You know when she starts talking about how great Bonnie Bishop is from the stage, here I have this big grin and these tears streaming down my face, to have Bonnie perform that song right in front of me. That will always be in the Top 5 moments in my life. I hope I get to see her accept a Grammy for that song!"

Bishop has been an artist who has been sort of bubbling under in music for some time. She's just released her fifth album, "Free," and has resumed a busy touring schedule after concentrating more on songwriting.

Raised in Texas and Mississippi, Bishop says the pivotal moment musically was when she sang the Cindy Walker-written classic "You Don't Know Me," when she was 13 years old. Bishop's natural father was a pianist.

"We would sit around the piano sometimes at Christmas and he'd play and sometimes I'd sing with him. And that was the first song we sang."

It was also the first time she realized she really was a good singer, because of the reaction in the room, but there was something else that wasn't expressed.

"My real dad and I had never had a very good relationship. And I felt that connection to that song very very deeply and related to it, because I right there with the person that I felt that way about."

It was ironically Bishop's stepfather, famed coach Jackie Sherrill (head coach at Mississippi State University at that time), who taught her what she needed to know about making a career in music.

"He became the parent who took me under his wing," says Bishop. "I spent age 12 to 21 on the sidelines of SEC football ... I saw how he ran the business, how he dealt with the players and, more importantly, how he inspired people to be winners. And how he so graciously accepted defeat. He was always out there shaking hands with every kid that waited for him outside the locker room and always understood the importance of giving back. I really learned a lot about how to be a role model and a person of influence from my stepdad. That had the biggest influence on me in pursuing the level of professionalism that I'm trying to achieve. He definitely set a level of success for me and handled it very well."

Bishop made an attempt to make it in New York in musical theater, but returned to Texas to attend college. During her senior year she wrote a song she was happy with and, after looking at the do-it-yourself attitude of other Texas music greats, decided to pursue music as a touring artist and songwriter. She burned up the highways and dancehalls of Texas before moving to Nashville four years ago.

Things seem to be coming full circle for her now.

"Two years ago Cindy Walker was inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame and she'd passed away the year before. And they brought me in to do that song because a guy on the board had seen me perform that song years earlier. And I invited my dad to come in for that performance and it was like a big reconcilliation moment for us."

And having Raitt fulfill her desire this year is sweet, although it may be a long time before Bishop sees any royalties.

"That was the ONLY cut I got while I was in that (publishing deal)," says Bishop. "By the time it came out, I'm so in the hole to them for the last four years of salary that I'm never gonna see a dime from it!"

Bishop laughs.


WFIV Homegrown

With: Bonnie Bishop

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28

Where: Preservation Pub, 28 Market Square

Admission: free

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