Few artists have had longer or more colorful careers than Tanya Tucker. Country music's original teen sensation, Tucker landed her first top 10 hit, 1972's "Delta Dawn," at 13 and continued to chart during the next three decades with such hits as "What's Your Mama's Name," "Texas (When I Die)" and "Strong Enough to Bend."
On her new project, "My Turn," Tucker covers classics by legendary male artists including Merle Haggard ("Ramblin' Fever"), George Jones ("Walk Through This World With Me"), Hank Williams ("Lovesick Blues") and Buck Owens ("Love's Gonna Live Here," the album's debut single). Due this year from Saguaro Road, a Direct Holdings/Time Life imprint, the CD includes an endorsement from Jones, who says, "There will never be a more distinctive voice in country music than Tanya's."
You started your own label, Tuckertime Records, in 2002. What prompted you to sign with Saguaro for this new release?
It's a one-time thing. I'm not signed on as an artist. I had really wanted to cut new material, so I wasn't really excited at first about doing a covers project, but Time Life is such a great company. They know how to promote music and get records to the buyers.
Why cover songs popularized by male artists?
I've always loved guys' songs. When I'm cutting an album, songwriters pretty much know not to send me a female demo because I'm more attracted to male vocals and a male song. I'm not crazy about "poor little me" songs. My past pretty much speaks to the fact that I like strong men's songs and I turn them into strong women's songs. It seems to work for me. Women have the same needs, desires and pain as men do.
Do you consider this record a tribute to your father? [Tucker's father/manager, Beau Tucker, died in November 2006.]
I know that my dad would have loved for me to do these songs. He introduced me to this music back when I was a kid and I'm hoping he would have approved of this record. All the people at Time Life were interested in my ideas for the packaging of the record. I think it's the best packaging I've ever had. I'm holding my Dad's hat on the album cover, and that was a special thing for me. I've really had a hard time with [his death]. I don't think I've really come to terms with it yet. When you feel that way, you don't feel like doing anything, especially singing. So this record was a way to pay tribute to him.
What is happening with your TLC reality show, "Tuckerville"?
It's called "Tuckertime" now. I almost have six shows ready to go. We are looking for another network. Several people are looking at it right now. We've got lots of footage. It shows our move out of our Tuckerville ranch in Nashville and how hard that was. Then going out to L.A. we had a six-vehicle caravan, and it shows all our trials and tribulations on the way, and of course, being in Malibu and living there.
You became a major star when you were in your teens. Do you have any advice for current teen queen Taylor Swift?
I'd say, "Keep on doing what you're doing. You're doing a great job. And keep on writing, because if you decide you don't want to sing anymore, you'll have that writing money coming in and you won't have to worry about nothing."
What are your goals for the future?
I plan to do more songwriting. Harlan Howard always told me I was "a writer trying to get out of a singer's body," and maybe he's right. I've got a lot of songs in me, hits to be written, and I hope I get the chance to do it. I hope the business gives me the chance. If they don't, I'm going to take it anyway.