NORMAN — Toby Keith has a warning for any fathers who have his daughter Krystal's breakout ballad “Daddy Dance with Me” played at their little girl's wedding reception.
“Daddies beware, it'll crunch ya,” he said with a smile.
The Oklahoma country music megastar knows this from personal experience: Krystal Keith surprised him with the heartfelt song for the father-daughter dance at her own wedding, and the swaggering singer barely made it back to the hotel room before his tears started to fall.
“I just talked to her through the dance. I told her, ‘I hope your wedding turned out good.' And I could hear it playing and I knew where it was going and I just kept talking to her,” he said backstage last month at his Denim & Diamond charity dinner and auction at Riverwind Casino., which is daughter also attended.
“I looked around the room and every single person in the 360 was bawling — men, women alike, everybody. And everybody was looking at me and I was just fighting it back and swallowing hard. Then, I got back in the dark and then some of them rolled down my face. I was like, ‘Damn, girl, you're crushing me here.'”
The response convinced Keith that “Daddy Dance with Me” not only needed a spot on Krystal's upcoming debut album but also warranted an early release for Father's Day, which is Sunday, as well as the summer wedding season. With that in mind, his Show Dog-Universal label released in April Krystal Keith's self-titled EP, which features four tracks, including “Daddy Dance with Me.”
“It was just gonna be for my father-daughter dance. And during the dance, as my dad and I were talking about it, he was like, ‘This has to be on your album.' And I was like ‘OK,' but in that moment, I'm seeing everyone's reaction to it. ... Our photographer was bawling, my wedding planner was bawling, everyone was completely in tears,” said Krystal Keith, who just might appear at the star-studded-Toby Keith Oklahoma Twister Relief Concert featuring her dad, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Ronnie Dunn and Willie Nelson July 6 at the University of Oklahoma's Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman. “It was a good indicator as to the kind of reaction it would get from people.”
Krystal Keith, 27, said she managed to keep the song a secret from her famous father with the help of his own people. The Norman resident penned “Daddy Dance with Me” with singer-songwriter Mica Roberts, a longtime member of Keith's Easy Money Band, and Roberts' songwriting friend, Sonya Rutledge.
“I just mentioned to him about a year before the wedding that I would like to record my first dance for my husband and get that laid down so that it was me singing for our first dance,” Krystal said, adding she recorded a cover of Elton John's “Your Song” for her and husband Drew to dance to at their nuptials in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
“I had planned on recording a song for him, I just didn't know what song. And I was looking for all these songs and couldn't find one that fit my situation or that I felt really strongly about. And I was like, ‘I'm a songwriter, what am I doing?' I decided to just write the song, so I didn't mention it to him at all,” she added. “I used all his people, and it was kind of a great way to pull one over on him.”
The EP also includes the effervescent ballad “What Did You Think I'd Do,” the fun-loving energizer “Doin' It” and the groovy down-home love song “Can't Buy You Money.” Her father wrote or co-wrote all three tracks.
“I wanted each song to showcase a different side of me. ... I like to show how versatile I am,” said Krystal Keith, who performed last week for her first time at the CMA Music Festival in Nashville, Tenn.
“Fans have been waiting a long time — and they were really vocal about how long their wait was,” she added with a laugh. “You know, a lot of them had heard me live and around at shows, but to have something for them to put on their iPod is pretty fun for me. Finally.”
After all, the younger Keith marked her country music coming out way back in November 2004, when she and her dad performed their cover James Taylor and Carly Simon's “Mockingbird” at the nationally televised Country Music Association Awards. Their duet was a hit on the country charts, and Krystal thought she was ready to start her recording career.
But her father had other plans; namely, college.
“She's been wanting to do this a long time. And I told her years ago that if she would go get a college degree and work on her life stuff that when the time came that I would give her a record deal to the best label in the town of Nashville — mine — and then we would go forward. So she's finally getting her album together,” he said. “She's a sharp girl and she knows what she's doing.”
While Krystal's first full-length album already has a title, “Whiskey & Lace,” the release date has not yet been revealed. But the music video to “Daddy Dance with Me,” which the University of Oklahoma graduate unveiled in April, has already surpassed a million YouTube views.
“It's amazing. It's the ultimate satisfaction for a songwriter, I think. I've had people say this is gonna be a classic, timeless wedding song that's gonna be used every year for weddings forever,” Krystal said, adding she opted to use footage of a friend's real-life wedding but not her own to keep the focus on the emotion and lyrics instead of her famous family.
“To have that respect off of my very first debut song is pretty incredible. It means a lot.”