It can be interesting sometimes how great minds think alike. If you need proof of this, talk to Terri Clark about her new covers disc, entitled “Classic.”
“The president of my record label in Canada came to me and asked if I would do an album of country classics,” she told Billboard, adding that the idea was one that she had dreamed of for a long time. “Of course, I just did back flips.”
“Classic” allows Clark a chance to share some family musical memories, as she does on the cover of Kitty Wells’ “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.” The track kicks off with an archival recording of the deep catalog Wells hit “The White Circle On My Finger” from someone the singer is very familiar with.
“The intro is actually my grandmother. She and my grandfather played country music professionally in the clubs of Montreal. They would wear the hats and the fringed outfits. They looked like Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. They opened shows for Johnny Cash and George Jones, and my grandfather tells tales about sitting up all night drinking whiskey with Little Jimmy Dickens.”
She added, “Country music is such a legacy in my family. They actually did some recording back in the 50s in a studio with their band. A friend of my grandmother handed me this vinyl album one day when I was a teenager and said ‘Your nanny is singing on this. I want you to take good care of it.’ At the time, I still had a turntable, so I put it on and started to listen to it. I thought ‘Someday when I’m a famous country singer. I’m going to do something with this.’ A lot of people think it’s Kitty until they read the liner notes and find out it’s my grandmother.”
Recording Reba McEntire’s 1984 hit “How Blue” took Clark back in time on a personal level, as Clark recalled her album My Kind Of Country. “She’s on the cover in blue jeans, belt buckle, and a vest looking like a rodeo queen,” related the singer. “You look at my image, and I’m still wearing that stuff. There was such a clarity and genuine purity to her voice that I loved. I would sit in the kitchen while my mother was cooking dinner and sing ‘How Blue,’ and do the harmony part. I would try to sing both parts.”
Clark didn’t have to harmonize with herself this time, as McEntire joined her live on the track. “Fast forward to today, we were in the studio, and she was singing that part standing next to me. She sang through it in thirty seconds, and then said ‘Well, what else do you want me to do?”
Other guests on the album include Jann Arden (“Leavin’ On Your Mind”), Tanya Tucker (“Delta Dawn”), and Dierks Bentley — who plays the George Jones part to Clark’s Wynette on “Golden Ring.” Of her collaboration with Bentley, Clark said “Dierks loves traditional country, and he’s one of the artists that honors that in so many levels.”
When asked if she felt any pressure putting her stamp on the eleven cuts on the disc, she struck a realistic tone. “I can only open my mouth and sound like myself when I’m not trying to mimic somebody else. You can’t really think about it too much, and you just have to be natural. There’s an unspoken respect with every one of these songs that you don’t try to paint over the Mona Lisa. The original versions of these songs will always stand the test of time. I’m just a bit of different voice bringing them up to 2013.”
The disc is available via her website at www.TerriClark.com, Amazon, and iTunes, as well as at Barnes & Noble. The singer will be touring Canada through the end of April to promote the release, and will be hitting the U.S. later in the year.