Of all the world’s famously named goateed Mormon country singers, Nathan Osmond is, hands down, my favorite. The nephew of Donnie and Marie Osmond and the son of Alan Osmond, from a young age Nathan had seemingly little choice but to enter the family business.
The results have been excellent.
A couple of weeks ago Nathan’s patriotic anthem, “Stars & Stripes,” reached No. 7 on the Independent Country Chart, giving him a fourth tune to make the list over the past year. His new album, Climbing Fences, is available in Target and via iTunes, and Nathan is currently touring across the United States. Although I’m not exactly a country type of guy, the man has an absolutely beautiful voice.
Here, the Mormon City Mad Man talks about climbing the ranks of the country charts; about what it takes to write a patriotic jam and why he’d be the perfect dude to slather on the kabuki makeup and fill in for Paul Stanley if KISS is in need. You can follow his Tweets here.
Nathan Osmond, here’s the Quaz …
JEFF PEARLMAN: Nathan, first I want to thank you for doing this. You clearly have a beautiful voice, and I can certainly see how you’ll go far in country music. That said, as a former music writer for The Tennessean, I have a question about your song, “Stars & Stripes.” Namely, I always hear country singers offering up similar odes to patriotism and military service—certainly two worthy causes. But isn’t that also extremely surface themes? I mean, we’ve been recently engaged in two wars that, at best, were questionable engagements. Iraq wasn’t fighting for our freedoms—it was a ludicrous response to 9/11 against a nation that had nothing to do with it. And Afghanistan—well, who knows how long we’ll have troops bogged down there. We’ve watched as our men and women have been sacrificed in the name of politics and re-elections and power, and it sucks. Isn’t there a song in that? In how maybe our troops aren’t dying for our freedoms, but because they’ve too often turned into pieces on a sadistic chess board?
NATHAN OSMOND: First of all, I wish to start off by saying thank you for featuring me here on your blog. I’m very excited to be able to share my music with the masses. “Stars & Stripes” is moving up the Independent Country charts and is currently in the Top 20 this week! It is not about any specific war rather about the many sacrifices that our troops and their families have made and continue to make to help keep our enemies at bay. I think it’s fair to say that without the countless sacrifices of our troops and their families, you and I wouldn’t be able to have this conversation right now, nor would your followers be allowed to read it. God bless our troops and their families. I pray for their safety and peace in the world in which we live.
J.P.: You’re an Osmond. Your dad, Alan Osmond, was the lead singer in the original Osmonds. I hate to ask a lame question—but I’m genuinely fascinated. What was it like growing up in a musical world with 800 cousins and uncles and aunts and siblings? Did you know music would be your path? Was there a moment when you knew—absolutely knew—this is what you wanted to do.
N.O.: The older I get, the more I realize that my life has been anything but normal. As a kid, I thought everyone had a television studio. Growing up on the set of the Donny & Marie show, I was surrounded by music, production, etc. I don’t think there was ever a time that I didn’t want to follow in my father’s footsteps. It looked like so much fun. I’m glad that my father Alan taught me how to work hard for each of my personal successes. I also enjoyed the fact that we’ve been fortunate enough to work as a family all these years. There are 57 grandkids on the Osmond’s side and we are all very close. I even have seven brothers; no sisters.
J.P.: I am bewildered by religious certainty. Like, I’m Jewish, but lord knows I’m not 100% certain what happens when one dies, or even if there’s a God. Yet you seem pretty darn sure you’re on the right religious path. How is this possible—especially if you haven’t tried the world’s other 865 religions to see what they offer?
N.O.: I consider myself a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (a.k.a. The Mormon Church). I am a Christian and I have had the rare privilege of traveling the world. I have both researched and respect all people’s beliefs. I don’t waste my time trying to tear down other peoples beliefs in a supreme being. Rather, I look for what we have in common. We may call him by other names, but at the end of the day, He is our Father. I believe that we are all children of loving Heavenly Father who loves us and who has a plan for each of us. I encourage you and all who desire to come to know Him to visit www.Mormon.Org and ask your questions there on a live chat with our missionaries. They can help you come to know who you are, why you are here and where you are going after this life. The source of all my happiness and joy stems from my belief in my Savior, Jesus Christ, His plan for me and my family and I wish to share it with world.
J.P.: Both your father and your brother, David, suffer from multiple sclerosis. I think, generally, people know the disease, but are unfamiliar with the impact it has on people … on families. What has dealing with M.S. been like for you and yours? And have you ever felt, I don’t know … angry about two family members having it?
N.O.: Believe it or not, both my father and my brother David say that having M.S. is the greatest thing that has ever happened to them. They don’t take a single step for granted. From day one, my father’s slogan has been, “I may have M.S., but M.S. does not have me!” I believe that each of us are tested in different ways in this life. It is how we deal with our challenges that we grow. You can choose to get bitter or you can choose to get better. Attitude in this life is everything. I don’t blame God, nor am I angry because of my family’s challenges. I am rather inspired by my family members. My father Alan said on the Larry King Show, “It’s not the disease or the condition that gets you … it’s the lack of hope.” You can’t have faith with out hope first. My father has inspired so many in dealing with their physical challenges. He is one of the most positive influences I have in my life.
J.P.: It seems like having a famous showbiz name can be blessing and curse. On the one hand, it surely opens doors. On the other hand, “Osmond” carries connotations—squeaky clean, a certain look, a certain wholesome genre of music. Do you ever feel burdened by the name? Has it helped you? Do people jump to unfair assumptions?
N.O.: Osmond is a two-edge sword and to be honest, I almost didn’t use it. Not because I’m ashamed of my name, but rather, because I want a fair shot at my own successes. “Osmond” on the other hand is a brand and is known for more than 100 million albums sold! We are the longest-running family in show business and even recently sold out Wembley Arena in the U.K. twice in ten minutes. Something is working. I think the name helps to get a foot in the door, but then you’ve got to have the goods. I think having a name that people recognize brings certain expectations and yes, people tend to prejudge my music prior to listening to it. It almost makes it harder to be taken seriously. By the way, my music isn’t like anything “Osmond” you’ve ever heard. One thing I love about country music is how honest it is. I considered going under the name of Nathan George (my middle name is George). I knew that “Osmond” would eventually come out and I didn’t want people thinking that I was trying to hide something or that was ashamed of my family. Quite the contrary. I just decided to be who I am. take me or leave me world! I am proud of my surname and what it stands for. I didn’t even tell my family I was going after a solo career. I think I gained their respect even more by doing that.
J.P.: You’re a devout Mormon. Right now, obviously, a Mormon is running for president, and much is being discussed about the religion. Do you like, or dislike, the way the dialogue is going? Do you feel as if people misunderstand Mormonism? And, if so, what is it we don’t get?
N.O.: I saw the coolest poster today! It said, “Mormons—The most secretive church that knocks on your door to tell you all about it.” If you want to know what “Mormons” believe, ask a Mormon: www.Mormon.org.
J.P.: You endorse freeze-dried energy food products. You write, “With an ever-changing economy and uncertainty in the job markets, I’m convinced that one of the smartest things any family can do is have plenty of food storage.” I say this with not once ounce of snarkiness: What the heck are you talking about?”
N.O.: With events like Hurricane Isaac, job loss, hyper inflation on the rise, the economic issues in Greece and Europe, it makes a lot of sense to plan ahead. One of my favorite books says, “If you are prepared, ye shall not fear.” My family and I have always stored food for various reasons. Not only has it helped us in times of uncertainty, but we have been able to bless others with it. If things get rough, and they very well could, I believe it is extremely important to have plenty of food storage. Gold may be a good investment, but you can’t eat gold!
J.P.: It strikes me that you’re at an interesting—and perhaps frustrating—point in a musical career. You’re clearly trying to break through, get consistent play, strike a cord with listeners, achieve greater name recognition. You opened for the Beach Boys and Scott McCreary, which is great. I’m wondering—how hard is it? To break in? To break through? To go from “That’s what I want …” to “I’m achieved it.”
N.O.: I’m having a blast! I try to make each day count and plan on being in the business a long time. I’ve always been amazed at how long it takes to become an overnight success! Nothing good just happens; you’ve got to work at it. I am starting to experience great moments in my career. I have recently opened for Carrie Underwood, Chris Young, Clay Walker and others. I’ve had three No. 1 consecutive hits and was even nominated as New Artist of the Year and Male Artist of the Year by the New Music Awards in Los Angeles. Most of all, my kids think I’m a rock star! At the end of the day, I am just so blessed to be able to do what I love for a living. I am thrilled that people are starting to take notice of my music as a solo artist. Heck, I’m even being interviewed by you, Jeff! I believe that we all define what “success” means to us. I am enjoying the journey and don’t associate success with plaques or trophies on the wall. I love what Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Success: To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
J.P.: You made your first national television appearance in 1986 when Bob Hope invited The Osmonds 2nd Generation to appear on his Christmas show. What do you recall about the experience? How nervous were you? And did Bob Hope smell like cranberry? I’ve always pictured him smelling like cranberry.
N.O.: I will always cherish my time working with one of the classiest men in show business; the late Bob Hope! He always made us all feel so special and was a true friend to our family. I don’t ever recall being nervous around him. Not only was I on his show as a kid with my brothers (The Osmond Boys), but we were also invited to his home where we sat around the pool with both him and his wife, Delores. Even in his frail years, he made an exclusive visit to our theater in Branson, Missouri to wish all of the Veterans a Happy Veteran’s day. That was the last time I ever saw him. I don’t think we will ever see another Bob Hope in our lifetimes.
Oh, I don’t ever remember any cranberry smells! Sorry!
J.P.: How do you go about writing a song? From soup to nuts—what’s the process for you? How do you come up with a theme? Where do the lyrics emerge from? Are there people you consult with?
N.O.: I have been writing songs since I was about 13-years old. I love collaborating with others and have even been doing a lot of songwriting via Skype! I even co-wrote my recent single, “Stars & Stripes” with a hit-songwriter in Scottland named Marwenna Diame. I was in Utah and she was across the pond. We have written a ton of songs for my new up-coming album, “Climbing Fences” via Skype. I love technology! Sometime the melody comes first. Other times I start with a title and it just goes from there. Marwenna and I even recently wrote a song about Alzheimers, because of her mother and a dear friend of mine who have it. She was having a hard day and we decided to write about it. I love to write about all sorts of topics.
QUAZ EXPRESS WITH NATHAN OSBORNE:
• Snoop Dogg calls and he wants to do a duet with you. You in?: I’d love to work with Snoop Dogg! The song has to be the right song for both of us!
• Ever think you were about to die in a plane crash? If so, please elaborate: I’ve been on a few scary flights. The de-icing machine stopped working and we were forced to turn around and land in Cincinnati. We were also about to land in Tucson, Arizona when the pilot hurried and aborted the landing. I hung on thinking we were being hijacked. After about three minutes, the pilot got on the PA system and said, “We apologize about the interruption in our landing … we came pretty close to hitting another aircraft.” Those are words that stay with you.
• Rank in order (favorite to least): baked beans, Tanya Tucker, Wiz Khalifa, Dusty Baker, iPhones, Coke Zero, the banjo, the state of Kansas, Hall and Oates, Michael Phelps, origami, Marriott points, Kim Kardashian, American Idol, the number 11: Wow … random! I have to admit … I had to Google some of these. iPhone, Marriott points, American Idol, Michael Phelps, Hall and Oates, Tanya Tucker, the number 11, the State of Kansas, the banjo, baked beans, origami, Dusty Baker, Coke Zero (never tried it!), Kim Kardashian, Wiz Kalifa.
• Do you believe that climate change is caused by man?: I believe there are many factors that lead to climate change. Man is responsible for many of the world’s problems, but I don’t think it’s fair to blame it all on man. How about those cow flatulence?
• What happens when we die?: Get your answers at www.Mormon.org
• Who wins in a 12-round boxing match—you or Vanilla Ice? How many rounds?: Me, for sure! Maybe three rounds … if he’s lucky! I’d be like, “Check out my hook punch while the DJ revolves it!”
• Five greatest country singers of your lifetime: Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, Collin Raye, Ronnie Dunn, Carrie Underwood.
• Book of Mormon: The Musical—offended, intrigued or both?: I personally have not seen it. It has been quoted as being “blasphemous, scurrilous and more foul-mouthed than David Mamet on a blue streak.” I wouldn’t go there looking to find pure doctrine. From the few scenes I have seen on the Tony Awards, it does paint our people in a very sincere, pure, clean-cut light for which we have no apologies. I hope that it intrigues people enough to the point that they take a serious look into what it is that I believe, which has brought so much happiness and joy into my life.
• Favorite phrase: ”History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.” — Winston Churchill
• KISS calls and they need you to fill in for Paul Stanley—makeup and all—for a couple of weeks. You in?: That would rock! I am, however, a little bit rock n’ roll.