It's 2 p.m. on a Thursday, and Kathy Troccoli's famished. She's already had a long day in the studio, putting the finishing touches on her CD, A Sentimental Christmas (Reunion), which features big-band renditions of Christmas classicsand she's ready for some lunch.
So Kathy, 40, plops down with her fast-food lunch on a friend's family room floor in Nashville, and asks me if I want some fries. As this Long Island native munches and sips, we talk about her love of music from the '40s and '50s. "If my mother were alive, she'd be flipping out, knowing I sang a duet with Andy Williams on my Christmas CD," says Kathy, as she shifts from floor to chair. "I grew up listening to Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Judy Garland. If I had to pick between what's out there today or all those wonderful old melodies, it's no contest! Some of my friends roll their eyes, but that's me."
Kathy runs upstairs to grab a book she wants to show me, comes back, sits down, and picks up our conversational threads. Then, unexpectedly, she reaches over, shuts off my whirring tape recorder, and asks me about my life. Her interest makes me feel as though I'm hanging out with a girlfriend rather than questioning a two-time Dove-award winning and Grammy-nominated recording artist and songwriter.
It's obvious Kathy cares about other people's life storiesbut perhaps that's because her own's been touched by loss and suffering. A sensitive, somewhat insecure child from a strict Italian family, Kathy lost her father to colon cancer at age 15. With her 1982 release, Stubborn Love (Reunion), the fastest-selling debut album by a female Christian contemporary artist, Kathy was catapulted into the limelight just four years after she'd become a Christian. Kathy then went on hiatus from the Christian music industry from 1986 to 1991 to do some soul-searching, get counseling, deal with a 10-year battle with bulimia, and deepen her relationship with her mom. But the professional success of her 1991 comeback release, Pure Attraction (Reunion/Geffen), which included the mainstream chart-buster, "Everything Changes," was offset by tragedyher mom died of breast cancer weeks before the album hit store racks. And just this August, Kathy's much-loved aunt succumbed to the same disease.
Despite these personal setbacks, Kathy's career has continued to soar. Besides 15 number-one Christian songs and 3 top-five pop singles, Kathy received a 1998 Dove Award for the prolife song "A Baby's Prayer" from her 1997 album, Love & Mercy (Reunion), and a 1999 Dove Award for her album Corner of Eden (also Reunion). This year Kathy's jazz-oriented collection of Garland and Gershwin tunes recorded with Sandi Patty, entitled Together (Monarch), is garnering mainstream airplay. Kathy's published the devotional My Life Is in Your Hands (Zondervan), and more recently, an inspirational gift book called Different Roads (Countryman).