Sunday, July 14, 2002
Louis Bia moved to Lawrence to become famous.
"I want to be a star," he said.
Bia is a crooner in his mid-30s who is trying to make it big. He is hoping his second CD, "Yesteryear," will put him on the charts.
Bia, who grew up in Pittsburg and moved to Lawrence a year ago, has been trying to make it since 1986, when he received a video audition for The National Network's "You Can Be a Star" television program in Nashville, Tenn.
Bia didn't make the cut for the show that time ï¿½ or the second time he tried in 1988. Finally, he was chosen as one of 150 people to participate in the 1992 season.
"I got to be on TV," Bia said.
Bia sang country hits on the show. And although he loves country, he says that's not the type of music he is meant to sing. Today, Bia performs songs that artists like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin made popular in the 1950s and 1960s.
"I prefer singing that to country," he said.
In 1999, when Bia recorded his first album, a collection of country songs titled "Nearness of You," representatives at major record labels told him he needed to sing something smoother.
"They liked the CD and said I looked like I could be a star," Bia said. "They said, 'He's good with (country), but it's not his niche.'"
Bia recorded his first CD with the help of Grammy-winning producer Larry Butler, who has produced albums for Kenny Rogers and Dottie West. Bia sent a demo tape to Butler, and Butler called and offered to help him record an album.
Butler also produced Bia's "Yesteryear," which was recently completed. This time Bia recorded songs like "Strangers in the Night," "Near You" and "Moon River."
Butler is trying again to get Bia a record deal with a major label.
"He was very confident he could (get a contract), and he's still confident," Bia said. "He's frustrated with Nashville ... but we're not giving up."
Bia said "The Coal Miner's Daughter," a movie about country singer Loretta Lynn's life, inspired him to work toward fame no matter what the obstacle.
"If she can make it, anyone can," he said.
Bia says he is driven to sing.
"I can't not do it," he said. "Once in the bluest moon I have this thought that I should give it up, that I'm tired of it. It lasts not even a second. I can't give it up. I just have to do it."