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Clint Black: C&W Singer 29

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Can a boy born in New Jersey become a singing cowboy in Nashville? Maybe if he grows up in Texas, as Clint Black did. It also helps to sound like Merle Haggard. Back in 1989, Black’s “A Better Man” became the first debut single to top the country charts in 14 years. Says superstar tour partner Reba McEntire: “He looks you right in the eye when he speaks to you, no matter who you are. That’s very, very special.” Black, a bachelor with a “special girl” in Houston, just grins away the compliment. “When I was younger, people used to remark on my eyes and how they nearly close up on me when I smile. And I’ve smiled so much, I guess the eyes have just stayed that way.” But they opened wide one night when a fan came up to him with an unusual request. “She wanted something to remember the occasion of meeting me,” he says. “She had her nail clippers on her key chain ready to cut my nails.” Politely Black explained that “I didn’t have any fingernails to give away. I have to keep them real short to play guitar.” Fingernails? Not Black’s best asset. Take it from K.T. Oslin: “His butt always looks cute.”