'90s country star files bankruptcy

Business debt apparently drove the former hitmaker into filing Chapter 13

Country singer Sammy Kershaw's 2003 album I Want My Money Back may soon take on a whole new meaning. The singer filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy on Tuesday.

Kershaw's filing didn't specify the amount of his liabilities or assets, only checking the boxes for $100,001 to $1 million for both. To file Chapter 13, he had to have less than $370,000 in unsecured debt and less than $922,000 in secured debt. "For a guy like him, I would have expected more debt if he had to file bankruptcy," a bankruptcy attorney not associated with the lawsuit said.

According to the filing, a copy of which is available at this link, the debt is primarily business-related. Other debtor names include Sammy Kershaw Fan Club, The Samuel P. Kershaw Foundation of Acadian, SJB Inc., and FDBA Hotchickens.com. His creditors include banks, credit card companies, self-storage companies, Busforsale.com (a Goodlettsville company selling tour buses online), lawyers and the Internal Revenue Service.

Hotchickens.com is a restaurant Kershaw and his wife, country singer Lorrie Morgan, started several years ago in Whites Creek. Morgan, however, is not listed as a debtor. Robert Orr-Sysco Food Services, one of the creditors, sued Kershaw and Hotchickens and won a default judgment of about $23,000 last February. Kershaw had never responded to the Robert Orr-Sysco's lawsuit to collect.

Paul Jennings, Kershaw's Murfreesboro bankruptcy attorney, was in depositions today and couldn't be reached. The singer's publicity agent couldn't be reached yet either.

The bankruptcy may be reflective of the career struggles Kershaw has had over the past several years, lack of hit songs and trouble finding record labels. Coming out of Cajun country in Louisiana, he first hit the country music scene in 1991 on Mercury Records and scored some major hits, earning three platinum and three gold records. His early hits include "She Don't Know She's Beautiful," "I Can't Reach Her Anymore" and "Cadillac Style."

Mercury dropped him from the label in 2000. He put the I Want My Money Back album out in 2003 on independent label Audium Entertainment. Last March, Kershaw signed with independent label Category 5 Records, a label started in late 2005 by Raymond Termini, who made his money in senior nursing care with his Haven Healthcare & Affiliates based in Middletown, Conn. Travis Tritt is also on the label, along with three upstarts. Kershaw told CMT that he had three record deals fall apart in a year before signing with Category 5.

Kershaw's album through Audium didn't generate the sales of old and had no hit singles. Last year, he released Honky Tonk Boots. The first single, "Tennessee Girl," didn't do much on the charts, nor has the album. His latest single "Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On" is out now.

In a filing today, Kershaw told the court, "I did not receive payroll advices and accordingly do not have evidence of wage payments received within 60 days before the date of the filing of the petition."

Although the bankruptcy filing didn't list a monthly income, he said the monthly income for the filing was derived from a 12-month average of performance income stated on his 2006 tax return. Some income reported for tax purposes was not included because it isn't anticipated in future years. "I do not anticipate any increase in my future income," he said in the filing.