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Paul Kennerley is an English singer-songwriter, musician, and record producer working in the American contemporary country music industry. His works include the concept albums, White Mansions and The Legend of Jesse James. He produced and co-wrote The Ballad of Sally Rose with Emmylou Harris in 1985, and was married to Harris from 1985 to 1993.
Kennerley was born in Hoylake, Merseyside, North West England in 1948. In 1976, he was living in London and working in advertising when he first heard country music, the song "Let's All Help the Cowboys Sing the Blues" by Waylon Jennings. "It really excited me," Kennerley recalls in his artist biography for Universal Music Group. "I immediately hunted down every Waylon record I could find."
Kennerley quit his job in advertising and allowed himself three months to develop his talents as a songwriter.
In 1972, Kennerley recorded an album with a rock band called 'Holy Roller' at Virgin record's newly opened Manor studio, with Tom Newman (Mike Oldfield, Tubular Bells etc.) and Philip Newell, and Newman subsequently sang all the songs on the demonstration tapes of the White Mansions album.
Kennerley's first project was White Mansions, a 1978 concept album set in the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. The project was picked up by A&M Records, with Glyn Johns producing. A number of notable artists recorded the music, including Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, Steve Cash of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils and Eric Clapton.
Neither White Mansions nor Jesse James were commercially successful, but they did establish Kennerley as a serious songwriter. Among his early compositions was "Born to Run", which Emmylou Harris recorded in 1981 for her album, Cimarron, and she continues to frequently perform the song in her concerts.
Kennerly continued to live in London while he wrote songs, but, in 1983, moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he started working with Harris on her semi-autobiographical concept album, The Ballad of Sally Rose, co-writing and producing the album. Kennerley also collaborated with Harris on her albums Thirteen and Bluebird, and writing the songs "In My Dreams" and "Heartbreak Hill". He married Harris in 1985, but the couple divorced in 1993.
Kennerley also wrote songs for The Judds ("Young Love", "One Man Woman", "Let Me Tell You About Love", "Cry Myself to Sleep", "Have Mercy" and "Give a Little Love"), Marty Stuart ("Hillbilly Rock", "Western Girls", "Tempted", "Till I Found You", "Little Things"), Tanya Tucker ("Walking Shoes"), Sweethearts of the Rodeo ("Chains of Gold"), Patty Loveless ("Blue Memories"), Juice Newton ("Tell Me True"), The Everly Brothers as well as Carla Olson & John York (First In Line).