Memories like that all come to the forefront for Reed on her new album, Today Is Mine: A Tribute to My Father, a collection of songs written and performed by her dad, who died in 2008. The project has been on her bucket list for quite some time.
"A few years ago, a friend of mine named Richard Smith started having a tribute to Dad every year. He asked me if I considered doing any of my father's songs. I said, 'Of course.' So we wound up cutting this in his studio. Everybody was really happy to jump onboard, because everyone loved Dad. All of the guys either worked with Dad or they just knew him. I'm not a musician, I'm a singer, so I always told myself that if I ever recorded an album, there were certain songs I wanted to do. Dad was a very masculine writer, so it was kind of a challenge in selecting the songs. You can change 'he' to 'she,' but you don't want to start rewriting things. I wanted to show everyone that my dad's talent wasn't just confined to country music. He was all across the board. I am so proud of it."
When asked what it was about her father that endeared him to people, she didn't hesitate. "His heart and personality," she said. "He loved people. He really did. As much as I thought I realized it, I didn't truly realize until after he passed away about how much they loved him. People like Tommy Emmanuel, Brent Mason or Thom Bresh would call him the Mozart of his time. Everyone that met him said he touched their life in some way. I listen to people's stories, and it was just beautiful. He was just Dad to me. When he and Mom would come home, they didn't talk about business. He'd watch a ball game, ask for ice cream or whatever. I have just realized over the past few years what an impact he had on so many people."
One song that she had to be talked into recording was the 1970 classic "Amos Moses," of which she said, "I had never ever considered doing it. It just wasn't really my style as a singer." However, she's pleased with how it turned out. "The scratch vocal is what is on the record. We played around and had so much fun with the swamp sounds. We pulled it off." She has fond memories of the night her dad wrote the song, saying he would run each line of the first verse by her. "I was about 9 or 10 when he wrote it. I was just grinning and giggling. He said, 'That's a hit.'"
Reed says her father was exactly like his public persona. "He was so funny and had the quickest wit. I wish I had half of his wit. I realize now how fortunate I was to have the memories of watching him with that guitar around the house." She also has cherished memories of her dad's movie roles. "I think the Snowman in Smokey and the Bandit was one he was born to play, but I would have to probably say [my favorite was] Gator, because he was a bad guy. It was so different, and he did it so well. He was a bad guy in Survivors as well as The Waterboy. I can't pick one. I loved them all."
The album closes out with "A Friend," which features archival recorded footage of Jerry Reed. "I wanted to do a song that everyone who had participated in the album could sing together. A friend of mine mentioned the song. I hadn't thought of it. I was able to get Dad's original tracks from Sony, and we used his vocal and his funky electric guitar. Brenda Lee, Bobby Bare and Ray Stevens all came in and sang, as well as Suzi, Ray's daughter, who I grew up with. And then so many great players like Charlie McCoy, Wayne Moss, Brent Mason, Tommy Emmanuel and Thom Bresh. That song is so special to me. It turned out so well."
Reed and many of those players will appear at the Fourth Annual Tribute to Jerry Reed on Thursday night at Nashville's Cannery Ballroom to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.