Suzy Bogguss is a Grammy-winning singer with eight Top Five hits under her belt. But for her latest release, the legendary country artist turned her focus to Merle Haggard’s catalog of work. The result is Lucky, a 12-track collection of Haggard-penned songs including “Today I Started Loving You Again,” “The Bottle Let Me Down” and “Sing Me Back Home.” On Friday, December 11, Bogguss will return to Birmingham for an 8 p.m. performance at Workplay. She recently spoke about Lucky by phone on a tour stop in Indiana.
Weld: Tell us about the inspiration for recording Lucky.
Suzy Bogguss: They’re all songs that Merle Haggard wrote. I wanted to illuminate his songwriting. He’s such an icon and a powerful artist that sometimes it’s hard to remove his presence, his voice and the image of his face and that’s what I was hoping to do.
Weld: Has Merle heard the album?
SB: Marty Stuart gave him the record for me because Marty was playing at Merle’s daughter’s wedding. I had just finished the mastering with Marty’s soundman so they took the record out there. Merle called me and he said, “The whole family sat down and listened to the whole thing and we loved it.” He loved the different arrangements of the songs. I was walking around the house with the phone on my ear, hyperventilating and thinking, “Oh my God, Merle likes the record.” [Laughs]
Weld: The promotion of this record was largely fan-funded through Kickstarter. If you will, talk about that experience.
SB: It’s been a long time since I’ve had the luxury of a big promotion team and I really wanted to give this one a push-off. The [Kickstarter] money paid for touring to New york and L.A. and we did a big party in Nashville. A lot of people pre-ordered the record and some people wanted to give more so I did more like writing handwritten lyrics and I did three private performances in people’s living rooms. So, you could buy in at whatever level and I felt so supported, like somebody cared that I was going to make a new project and they wanted to help me get it out there. I feel rejuvenated by the fans saying, “We want to hear what you’re going to do next.”
Weld: The way you funded the album’s promotion is yet another example of the new model and new avenues available to artists these days. The barriers between artist and fans have been largely removed.
SB: It’s kind of how I started and there is a level of trust with that. I don’t divulge everything that I do on social media, but it’s such a valuable tool. Back in the day, I had to write 200 postcards and now I can get email addresses and let them know about it. I’ve had people contact me on Facebook and get me gigs. It’s a tool and it’s really helpful.
Tickets to the show are $20 – $25 day of the show – and can be purchased at www.workplay.com