Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.

When a co-writing session begins with one collaborator angrily wielding a shotgun and a bottle of Crown Royal, one wouldn't expect the pairing to end in an engagement and an impressive new album. But then again, Tanya Tucker has never been a typical country artist.

Ever since she debuted at age 13 with the hit "Delta Dawn" in 1972, Tucker has forged her own unique path. "I feel like I've been going to college all those years. Now I've graduated and am finally doing what I want to do," she says of launching her own Capitol Records-distributed label, Tuckertime Records, and releasing "Tanya," her first album in five years.

She credits fiancee Jerry Laseter with encouraging her to record again. A successful songwriter with cuts by Tim McGraw, Aaron Tippin, and others to his credit, Laseter had known Tucker for years when his sister suggested they write together. Laseter was running late for their first co-writing session, and Tucker was not pleased.

"I was sitting on the top of the house with a shotgun and a big bottle of Crown Royal," she recalls. "I said, 'You're late!' He was scared to walk in. When he got there I was going to shoot over the top of their heads, but I was afraid I'd miss and kill his friend."

But there's a happy ending. The two have a 3-year-old daughter and plan to marry next year. Their creative efforts recently birthed another labor of love, "Tanya," due out today (Sept. 24).

Capitol VP of sales Bill Kennedy calls Tucker's new album "classic Tanya." Indeed, the collection demonstrates the quality of material and evocative vocal performances that earned Tucker the Country Music Association's 1991 female vocalist trophy and 30 top-10 country singles.

Tucker says she felt more comfortable than ever during recording. "I was doing what I wanted to do," she says. "I picked songs I could sink my teeth into and was confident about doing. I've never used [recording studio software] Pro Tools in my life. I thought that was something Home Depot sold."

"Tanya" was co-produced by Laseter and Barry Beckett, with Tucker and Roger Murrah serving as executive producers. The album features songs from such top writers as Marcus Hummon, Bob DiPiero, Hank Cochran, and Gary Burr. Laseter co-wrote seven cuts, and Tucker co-wrote one.

Tucker currently has a handful of tour dates scheduled, kicking off Oct. 8 in Cass Lake, Minn.

Here are Tanya Tucker's upcoming tour dates:

Oct. 8: Cass Lake, Minn. (Palace Casino)
Oct. 9: Sloan, Iowa (Winna Vegas Casino)
Oct. 10: Valentine, Neb. (Rosebud Casino)
Oct. 11: Horton, Kansas (Golden Eagle Casino)
Oct. 18: Athens, Ga. (Classic Center)
Oct. 26: Nashville, Ind. (Little Nashville Opry)
Nov. 15: Wheeling, W.Va. (Capitol Music Hall)





Excerpted from the Sept.28, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.

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