On stage, Garth Brooks is among country music's most dominant performers. But off stage, his wife Trisha Yearwood is the celebrity who makes things happen.
"I'm proud to be married to Trisha Yearwood, who is probably the busiest person on this planet," Brooks said during a press conference at Houston's Toyota Center last week. "It's pretty good to be the queen's husband."
In addition to a singing career of her own — she performs a duet with her husband and several solo hits on the couple's tour — and a new exhibit saluting her at the Country Music Hall of Fame, Yearwood has a hit show (Trisha's Southern Cooking) on the Food Network, several best-selling cookbooks and a line of non-stick cookware. This fall, she'll launch a new line of furniture, the Trisha Yearwood Home Collection.
It wouldn't stretch it far to call her the Country Martha Stewart, although her lifestyle brand has extensive crossover appeal.
"It's pretty good to be the queen's husband," Garth Brooks says.
"I'm amazed at what I'm doing at 50 years old that I never thought I would be doing," she said. "Things for me just happened. I moved to Oklahoma to be with Garth and the girls and I was looking for some way to be creative and I wrote this cookbook with my mom and my sister, and I never dreamed it would turn into anything. I think for me things just come along organically and I follow the path."
Before the first Houston concert last week, Yearwood talked with CultureMap about her thriving career and where it may ultimately lead.
CultureMap: You've got so much on your plate, with furniture, food, singing all that. How do you prioritize what you do?
Trisha Yearwood: It kind of shifts. The first 20 years of my career was music because that’s what I put my energy into. When Garth retired and we decided to be together and I moved to Oklahoma, I didn't know what I was going to do. He retired. I didn’t.
"You figure out what is important to you. And for me it’s always been family."
The first book came out just because I was trying to find a way to be creative at home. When the cooking show came along, I said, "I can’t do a cooking show; I can’t leave Oklahoma," and they said, "We’ll come to Oklahoma." So I said Okay.
So you figure out what is important to you. And for me it’s always been family. And trying to find a way to do what we love to do and make sure we take care of each other.
CM: Have you been surprised by the success of the cooking show?
TY: Totally surprised. I’m amazed. I resisted it for a long time because I wasn’t really sure I wanted to be behind the counter, saying, "Now you add the butter." But they said you can do anything you want.
We were one of the first shows to show outtakes.We make fun of ourselves. We show our mistakes. I'm not a chef; I’m a home cook. I think I cook the way most people do, so I think that’s probably why people respond, because most people haven’t been to culinary school. So most people want to know, "How can I make this and make it easy and get it on the table by 6 o'clock?" I think that’s the appeal.
CM: Do you have a favorite recipe or foolproof recipe?
TY: I always tell people who think they can’t cook to make the meatloaf in the first book because it’s got four ingredients, so you really can’t mess it up.
And my new favorite thing is Skillet Apple Pie. I got this recipe from a little lady in south Georgia, a friend of mine. I said, "Can I put this in the book?" She’s typically Southern, she said, "Oh honey I’m embarrassed it’s got pre-made pie crust."
"Most people want to know, 'How can I make this and make it easy and get it on the table by 6 o'clock?' I think that’s the appeal."
You can put it together in five minutes. It tastes so homemade, it’s so good. That’s my go-to, if I have to put something together in a hurry. I found out at 9 o'clock last night before I was getting on the plane that it was somebody’s birthday here this weekend that’s in our crew. So I said, "I gotta make something," so I made that pie. And that’s real life.
CM: Why did you decide to create a furniture line?
TY: Doing the cooking show has led to all these other lifestyle opportunities. The cookware was the obvious choice, it was released this spring. But the furniture line came calling and I said, "I don’t know. Let me meet the people."
I was on tour, I was actually in Austin and they flew from North Carolina to meet with me and I just liked them as people. I thought I don’t know how this will go but I really like them and I’d love to be in business with them.
The chief designer is a girl named Carol and she and I just clicked. I can’t sit here and draft out a picture of a table but I can tell you what I like about it or what I don’t like. I love that it’s a collaboration. Any time that I made a comment about it, it was adjusted to make it a little more like me. So when I walked in and saw the furniture at market in April, it all felt so like me.
It hasn’t hit stores yet, but the initial buy has been really promising. So I’m crossing my fingers on that, too.
"A guy who will cook when you don’t want to, a guy who will load the dishwasher, clean the kitchen when he’s done, that’s a winner."
CM: How would you describe the line?
TY: If you know my music, if you know the show, you get a sense of who I am. So the furniture is not crazy expensive; it’s casual livable. I grew up in a house where you sat on the furniture, it wasn't something you looked at and said that’s really pretty but don’t sit on it; there wasn’t plastic on it. So I want it to be really comfortable.
CM: It sounds like you are the new Martha Stewart, the country Martha Stewart or however you describe it.
TY: I don’t know. The first cookbook came out of a love for cooking and not anything more than that. So I think as long as you do things that are genuine to who you are, then it works out.
CM: What kind of cook is Garth?
TY: He’s really great. A guy who will cook when you don’t want to, a guy who will load the dishwasher, clean the kitchen when he’s done — that’s a winner. He makes a really great warm pasta salad that is my comfort go-to. If I’m gone all day he’s like, "What are we doing for dinner? Do you want pasta salad?" Yes. He’s a good cook.