Tim McGraw wins ruling over recording career

Friday, November 25, 2011, Vol. 35, No. 47

NASHVILLE (AP) - Country music superstar Tim McGraw won a court ruling Wednesday allowing him to keep recording while a lawsuit against him by Curb Records makes its way through the courts.

Chancellor Russell Perkins ruled Wednesday after a four-hour hearing that McGraw can sign with another record label and record new music.

Curb Records sought to prevent McGraw from recording or signing with another label until he fulfilled what Curb believed was his obligation for a fifth album. McGraw is accused of breach of contract, with a trial scheduled for July.

The performer known for his black cowboy hat was in a suit and tie in court Wednesday and his wife, singer Faith Hill, watched from the public seating. McGraw did not testify and after the ruling, shook his attorneys' hands and embraced his wife, saying he was "just very happy."

His attorneys argued that Curb is trying to put his career on hold. He's had a 20-year relationship w ith the record label, and the dispute is over a contract signed in 1997.

At issue is the timing of McGraw's unreleased album "Emotional Traffic," which Curb says was delivered too early. Jay Bowen, an attorney for the label, argued that the album was recorded between 10 months to a year and a half too early.

"What sells records and what Curb bargained for was the most recent songs available at the time," said Bowen.

McGraw countersued on grounds his career was being stymied and the label kept releasing greatest hit compilations that were used to draw out the life of his contract.

"Curb Records is trying to put Mr. McGraw's career on hold and that is causing Mr. McGraw damage every day it occurs and it is a tragedy," said McGraw's attorney Bill Ramsey.

His attorneys argued that McGraw delivered one of his best albums yet and he wanted it to be the last record he made with Curb Records. One of the songs on the album, "Felt Good on My Lips," has alr eady been released by Curb and has become a hit.

It's not clear what Curb will do with the album. McGraw was promised an advance of $1.5 million for it but was never paid.

"We would hope that this album, 'Emotional Traffic,' would get out to Tim McGraw's fans, because it is a great record," Ramsey said.

Ramsey said McGraw has a busy schedule, but he will try to get back to recording soon. Ramsey denied that McGraw was in negotiations with any other labels.

Some his top country hits were "Live Like You Were Dying," and "It's Your Love," a duet with Faith. In recent years, McGraw has expanded his career into movies and appeared in "The Blind Side" and "Country Strong."