Tanya Tucker – Classic | Edgy | Unpredictable

by | Mar 25, 2016 | Cover Story

photos courtesy of Webster  Public Relations 

After four decades of worldwide tours, chart-topping hits and trail-blazing sounds, country icon Tanya Tucker’s voice is synonymous with her story.  As if her life’s experiences have been etched into her tone, Tanya sounds deep, complex, gritty and fulfilled with each word.
“It’s still me,” she said with a hearty laugh, “a little more raw and unplugged.  But I still love great music, and I’m still out here doing it.”
Breaking into the music scene at age 13, Tanya has produced 26 studio, live and compilation albums along with countless singles.  Her sound has evolved from pure, soulful country to cultivate a rock edge, paving the way for growth and change in the genre as a whole.  Throughout a lifetime of change, ups, downs and rebirths, Tanya stayed loyal to one vision: her songs would speak for themselves, no matter what.
“I’ve lived with some of my songs for 45 years now,” Tanya said, “and you can get tired of a song.  But I keep relearning them.  When I sing them now, I can expand on how I present the song, and it’s like I’ve done a little circle.  The music means something different to me now because, when I first sang some of these songs, I was just a kid.”
With soft blonde waves and that soulful stare, Tanya first stomped her way onto the music scene with her debut single “Delta Dawn.”  Hiding her age, Tanya and her team focused on the young artist’s ability to surpass the depth of a normal teenager.  They thought, if the public knew she was just a kid, Tanya would be discounted.
“Yes, I was a child star back then,” Tanya recalled, “but it didn’t feel like it.  Even then, I always sang mature songs.  I didn’t really have that childlike image, so I didn’t have to leave one image and transition to another one.”
In her early career, Tanya’s father served as her mentor, imparting advice that Tanya still falls back on today.
“He said, ‘You have to give twice as much feeling as the person who recorded this (demo),’” she recalled.  “Because I was young, they wouldn’t believe it was coming from a kid unless I really chowed down on it.”
With her dad’s words in her heart, Tanya quickly captured the country’s attention.  Nominated for Best Female Country Vocal Performance, she came near to a Grammy with “Delta Dawn.”  In 1972, she earned “Top New Female Vocalist” from the Academy of Country Music and secured her first No. 1 single the following year with “What’s Your Mama’s Name.”  Achieving an unusual feat for a country artist, Tanya appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone in 1974 with the headline: “Hi, I’m Tanya Tucker, I’m 15, You’re Gonna Hear From Me.”
“My dad always said, ‘You don’t have to be a great singer, but you gotta be a great performer,’” Tanya recalled.
Five years into her career, Tanya decided to take a chance with her image and her sound.  It was time to shake things up.
“I always had country in me, but when I was 18, I wanted to experiment a little,” Tanya said.  “Did everyone give me hell for that.  But you know what, it was the first gold record I had.”
At the height of her career, Tanya’s next album, T.N.T., featured her signature rock edge and, eventually, paved the way for an entire genre of sounds and performers.   The gold-certified album peaked at No. 2, and served as her transition to a collaborative relationship with Glen Campbell and a new label.  The late 80s and 90s continued to bring incredible high points, carrying her to new heights and career-defining hits.  After decades of being in the spotlight, on the road and in front of the mic, Tanya eventually considered a break from music.
“I was up in Colorado with my daughter and my horses, and I thought for a while I just wanted to quit.  I enjoy life, and when I start not enjoying it, I know something’s wrong,” Tanya said.
But Tanya’s fans wouldn’t have it.  After receiving an outpouring of pleas to get back on the road, Tanya returned to Nashville for an exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and then – to music.
“I went from zero to 200 miles per hour,” she said.  “It’s a lot like riding a bicycle.”
Today, Tanya is working on new music and a tour, delivering the same sassy, soulful rock country sound fans have been drawn to for decades.  Her next stop?  Tanya will perform at the Santa Clarita Valley Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons in Valencia on Saturday, June 4 at 8 p.m.
“In a small way, this is more real,” Tanya said of her upcoming performances.  “I’m looking forward to coming back to Santa Clarita.  I have lots of good friends out here, and I love the fans.”
For more information about Tanya Tucker, visit www.tanyatucker.com.  To purchase tickets, visit www.canyonspac.com

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