Music can help us even in the darkest and most difficult times, and many singers and musicians are well aware of this. Garth Brooks knew exactly what was going to happen when the sign was read to the woman in the classroom.
In 1985, Brooks began his professional music career, singing and playing guitar in Oklahoma clubs and bars, most notably Wild Willie’s Saloon in Stillwater. Through his elder siblings, Brooks was exposed to a wide range of music. Although he listened to some country music, especially that of George Jones, Brooks was most fond of rock music, citing James Taylor, Dan Fogelberg, and Townes Van Zandt as major influences. In 1981, after hearing “Unwound”, the debut single of George Strait, Brooks decided that he was more interested in playing country music.
In 1985, entertainment attorney Rod Phelps drove from Dallas to listen to Brooks. Phelps liked what he heard and offered to produce Brooks’ first demo. With Phelps’ encouragement, including a list of Phelps’ contacts in Nashville and some of his credit cards, Brooks traveled to Nashville to pursue a recording contract; he returned to Oklahoma within 24 hours. Phelps continued to urge Brooks to return to Nashville, which he did. In 1987, Brooks and wife Sandy Mahl moved to Nashville, and Brooks began making contacts in the music industry.