CBSN

Clay Walker on building his "masterpiece"

Clay Walker says it has taken his whole life to make his "masterpiece," and he thinks his upcoming album might just be it.

The multiplantinum country singer recently finished recording his 12th record. Due in 2015, the as-yet-untitled studio set comes on the heels of 2012's "She Won't Be Lonely Long." Since that last release, Walker, 45, has spent time carefully taking in the country scene.

"Country music has changed so much in three years that if you hadn't heard country music you wouldn't recognize it today. It's very different. I feel like it's been great for the format, growing it and keeps it from getting stagnant," Walker told CBS News.

Being able to dissect "what's good and what's not" in country music, Walker says, has allowed him to fine-tune both the sound and what he wants to say with this upcoming release. The result? A record, he says, people will want to "sing along to."

"This album was built and made for two purposes: one was to rock the radio and second and just as importantly -- to please the fans that love country music," said Walker.

The Beaumont, Texas, native has been playing music ever since he was a kid, later entering talent competitions as a teenager.

"I stayed persistent. I came to Nashville when I was 17. I got turned down by every label. Went back [home], was very intimidated," he said.

But he didn't give up.

"I made a great demo and went by a radio station [in Beaumont], dropped it off," said Walker, who at the time was working as a desk clerk at a Super 8 Motel.

The program director firmly told Walker he couldn't play his music because they had strict playlist guidelines as a "reporting station" -- in that they had to report every song they played.

But on Walker's drive home, Walker says he was completely taken aback when the DJ came on the airwaves and said, "Ladies and gentleman, I may lose my job over this -- but this song deserves to be heard."

It was Walker's demo.

"He cranked it up," said Walker. "When I heard myself on the radio I knew at that point that I can hang with the big boys."

Walker cites persistence for his success, recalling an interview with Willie Nelson in which the country legend said, "If you knock long enough on that door, somebody will answer it."

The door opened for Walker, who's had hits with "Dreaming with My Eyes Open," "If I Could Make a Living," "This Woman and This Man" and "Rumor Has It."

The road, though, hasn't always been completely smooth for Walker. In 1996, he diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information between the brain and body.

"I was playing basketball with some of my band members and I was falling down all over the place, dizzy, double vision...and I couldn't feel my legs. My hand quit working...It was crazy," said Walker, who added, "They [doctors] said I would be in a wheelchair in four years and dead in eight."

He was able to beat that prognosis, he says, thanks to medication, a healthy lifestyle and a good caregiver. Walker's wife, Jessica, helps him with everything from making sure he's on track with his diet to taking his medication.

"It's great to know somebody loves you so much and wants to see you healthy. I want to be healthy. I want to be able to walk my daughters down the aisle and play with my sons in the yard and wrestle. And that's what anybody hopes for," he said.

Walker, who has been relapse-free for 16 years, founded the organization Band Against MS, a non-profit charity to help raise awareness and funds for the cause.

"I'm really focusing my attention on rehabilitation," said Walker. "The improvement of my physical strength at this point is amazing. I want to encourage the other people who have MS -- or any other debility disease -- that you can rebuild."

For more on Band Against MS go here. And check out the videos above for more on Walker's new album and living with MS.