It’s easy to understand why Suzy Bogguss has such a great love for Western music, even though she was born and reared in Illinois.
She spent many days as a young girl visiting recording, TV and movie stars Roy Rogers and Dale Evans at their home in Apple Valley, Calif.
“My grandparents lived on the same block with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and I’d go over and have TV dinners with Roy and Dale,” the country music star said in a call.
“They also went to the same church as my grandparents,” Bogguss added. “Here I was, a 12-year-old kid who couldn’t believe I was hanging out with Roy and Dale.
“I’ve traveled a lot in the West, and I’ve always done a lot of Western material. Any time that Michael Martin Murphey does a Western music festival, I’m on it.”
Bogguss’ first single release on Capitol Records in 1989 was a remake of Patsy Montana’s yodeling hit I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart.
That 1935 recording would put Montana on the map as being the first country female to sell a million copies of a record.
“I got to meet Patsy for the first time in 1988 at (Country Music Association’s) Fan Fair, and we became friends. She came to my fan club parties in Nashville for several years during Fan Fairs.”
Bogguss will be performing her Christmas show at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, at the Imperial Theatre for the Morris Museum of Art’s Budweiser True Music Southern Soul & Song series.
Tickets are $24, $19 and $13 from (706) 722-8341 or imperialtheatre.com.
The show is just a couple weeks before her birthday Dec. 30.
“I didn’t have any birthday parties growing up, but my mom was great to separate my birthday from Christmas,” she said. “I never felt like I suffered from my birthday being so close.”
Bogguss – known for her hit singles including Aces, Drive South, Letting Go, Outbound Plane, Just Like The Weather and Hey Cinderella – not only will be singing Christmas songs but also some of her hits and traditional songs from her 2011 album American Folk Songbook that she recorded and produced. It was engineered by her husband, songwriter Doug Crider.
The CD of 17 familiar songs – including Shady Grove, Shenandoah, Red River Valley, Froggy Went A-Courtin’, Wayfaring Stranger, Rock Island Line, Swing Low Sweet Chariot and Wildwood Flower – comes with a companion book written by Bogguss telling the stories about how the songs originated and having piano sheet music and guitar chords for the songs.
“I am not schooled to write like a journalist,” she said, “but I just figured I could do it as long as I was doing it from my heart and not trying to be a historian. I learned so much from the experience of doing my first book, especially a lot about the hardest songs to pin down as to how they came about like Shenandoah that has so many different verses and variations.”
The book-and-album combination can be found in Cracker Barrel restaurants.
Growing up in the small town of Aledo, Ill., Bogguss came to love music especially from her mother, a secretary.
Her dad was a machinist for International Harvester. She graduated from Illinois State University in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in art with her primary interest in metalsmithing.
“One of the girls on my dorm floor was from Chicago, and she had taken some classes in high school in metalsmithing,” Bogguss said. “She started showing me some of the stuff she had made. I also had been going to Mexico with an aunt during my high school years, and I was fascinated with silver jewelry.
“Being from a small town, I didn’t realize that somebody had to make this stuff. I was so green. I also knew about Elton John and other big performers, but it never occurred to me that somebody like me from my small town could make a living making music.”
Bogguss’ love of decorative arts would lead to her making her own stage wear and jewelry and to designing a leather apparel collection in 1993, which was carried in Nordstrom department stores throughout the western U.S.
Her love of music would lead to nine albums over 10 years for Capitol Records and to many more albums for her own record label.
She would win the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Female Vocalist award in 1989, the Country Music Association’s Horizon Award in 1992 and a Grammy Award for her contribution track (Ah, May The Red Rose Live Always) on the 2005 traditional folk album Beautiful Dreamer, The Songs Of Stephen Foster.
“I have recorded about 140 songs on 14 albums,” Bogguss said.
“I feel so lucky I still like the songs that I sing that were hits, and I don’t get tired of singing them. I don’t want to be sounding on stage like I’m thinking about shopping at Dillard’s when I really should be concentrating on singing the lyrics.”
CAREY BACK IN CONCERT: Former North Augustan Carey Murdock will be back in town for a concert at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, at M.A.D. Studios, 307½ 11th St. Tickets for the all-ages show are $10 in advance or $12 at the door. Call (706) 836-5683.
Murdock, who performed at New York City’s Bitter End nightclub and Nashville’s Bluebird nightclub and six countries in Europe earlier this year, just finished a tour of New England states. He will be back performing at the 2013 A Day in the Country festival in May.
South Carolina singer-guitarist Jacob Johnson, who has been opening up for Edwin McCain, also will be with Murdock.
CHRISTMAS WITH ELVIS: Carolina Christmas, a musical event benefiting Toys for Tots, begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at Mi Rancho restaurant, 4645 Jefferson Davis Highway in Clearwater.
Tickets are $15. You can reserve seats by calling Terri Futreal at (803) 474-2411.
Elvis tribute artists Cliff Wright, of Athens, Ala., and Jeff Lewis, of Nashville, Tenn., will perform. There also will be tribute performances of songs by Conway Twitty, Johnny Cash, Ronnie Milsap and Glen Campbell.