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Family, country keep singer moving

Family life keeps all of Lee Greenwood's household hopping.

"It's a reality show around the house," he said, calling one busy day last month from his home in suburban Nashville.

He ran through the roster: sons auditioning for a talent show and learning how to drive, at ages 12 and 15, respectively, and wife Kim Greenwood, executive director of the Miss USA state pageants for Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi.

"And we overslept," Greenwood said.

The country balladeer will perform Sunday night at the Alabama Theatre in North Myrtle Beach with special guest Louise Mandrell, the middle sibling from the Mandrell Sisters, between Barbara and Irlene.

"She's the brunette ... and a multi-instrumentalist," Greeenwood said.

His numerous duets with women include "To Me" with the eldest Mandrell. That's among his 19 top 10 hits in the 1980s, including "Somebody's Gonna Love You," "I Don't Mind the Thorns (If You're the Rose)" "Don't Underestimate My Love for You."

"God Bless the U.S.A." originally struck big in 1984, about seven years before its resurgence during Operation Desert Shield and Storm, when Allied forces liberated Kuwait from Iraq. Greenwood said he wrote the number in 1983, during his tour days with then record-label colleagues George Strait and Reba McEntire, and introduced it on stage in Florida.

"I put 'U.S.A.' in the middle of the show," he said, "and it was an overwhelming acceptance, and it brought me to tears."

Greenwood said the composition was simply doing "something for my country.

"I had my grandmother's legacy in my head," he said, remembering a role model in his life. "I had something very positive."

Touring the globe since then reminded Greenwood of its enormousness and the importance "to try to be a good ambassador, military or not," for the United States.

"It's given us a wide perspective on world pressure and world culture," he said.

Greenwood expressed gratitude for the bands of fans who turn out everywhere he goes.

The native Californian, who worked and sang in Nevada casinos before moving to Nashville, said he loves singing "Dixie Road," for example.

"It's a story," he said. "That's what people love about country music: the way it resonates."

He brought up the effect of a "tear-jerker," such as "Ring on Her Finger, Time on Her Hands," or the more upbeat "I.O.U."

"They're pretty songs," he said. "They reach the depth of your soul."

Greenwood said he always has "a great time" at the Alabama Theatre and looks forward to seeing Jeff Zona, a principal in the theater's house band.

"He played guitar for me for about 10 years," Greenwood said.

Touching on other memories this winter, Greenwood made something special in singing one of his seasonal staples, "Tennessee Christmas," written by Amy Grant and her first husband, Gary Chapman.

"It represented my home," Greenwood said, especially this past season. "We had snow in Nashville for the first time at Christmas in 17 years, deep enough to enjoy. To do shows around the country, I was glad to say, 'I have snow.'"

With Tate Publishing releasing his new book with a six-song CD in April, Greenwood sounded excited and content with his remaining time on the go. He'll fly to Myrtle Beach this weekend after performing in Texas.

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