September 14, 1994 12:00 PM

After sharing a tour bus for two years with her 12-person band and entourage, Trisha Yearwood was feeling solidarity with sardines. “When you travel so much that you never have time to yourself, you begin to lose your sanity,” she says. “I got to the point where I needed a place I could go and just be away from everything. I wanted a bus that was just for me.”

With one gold and two platinum albums to her credit, the 30-year-old Georgia native was in a position to build her dream bus. Yearwood ordered a 45-foot, $250,000 bus shell made by the Prevost company in Quebec—the Mercedes of tour vehicles, with an ultrasmooth ride and high resale value. Three months later, last November, the gleaming red bus was delivered to Hemphill Brothers Coach Co. of Nashville for customizing. Hemphill spent three weeks polishing the chrome and applying the initials TY to the sides in 22-karat gold leaf.

But inside, the bus was still barren. Yearwood and company founders Joel Hemphill, 36, and his brother Trent, 34, began developing a floor plan, trading ideas by fax when Yearwood was at home in Nashville or on the road. “I wanted a queen-size bed, a desk with fax, large-screen TVs, a full-size refrigerator, a full shower,” she says. “I wanted the kitchen to be self-sufficient. Mornings are a good quiet time for me, and I didn’t want to have to worn” that the hotel is going to cut off breakfast.” (She does her own cooking.)

Fabrics and furniture came next. “I’m not a designer, but I do have definite tastes,” Yearwood says. “Most tour buses use dark, thick fabrics that make the rooms depressing. I wanted mine light and airy. The more chaos you have in your life, the more you learn to keep things simple.”

Prior experience informed her decision when it came to sleeping position. “I wanted my bed faced sideways with my head at the center line of the highway,” she says. “It makes for a much smoother ride.”

Hemphill’s tab came to $250,000, but it turned out the star couldn’t have it all. “I wish we’d found a place for a washer-dryer,” she says. “Then I wouldn’t ever have to get off the bus.”

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