2008 Edition: #65 (-2)
In the liner notes of her debut album, the legendary Chet Atkins wrote that “her voice sparkles like crystal water.” An apt description of Suzy Bogguss, indeed. Her pure and clear voice has always been a perfect fit for a wide range of material, whether she’s singing old Western songs or modern-day swing.
Bogguss was barely out of college when she started to follow her muse. With a group of friends, she spent the summer after her graduation criss-crossing the country with an amp and a guitar, going into random clubs and asking if she could play for the night in exchange for enough cash to cover expenses.
The novelty wore off quickly for her friends, who went back home when the summer was over, but Bogguss persevered. She recorded an LP to sell at her shows, and soon became a regular on the midwest coffeehouse circuit.
When she finally got up the gumption to move to Nashville, she put together a demo cassette. She got her big break when she landed a performance slot at a new theme park in 1986 – Dollywood. A label executive from Capitol Records caught her show, bought her cassette and offered her a contract.
One of her first singles was a cover of “I Wanna Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart,” which found the young singer bringing the yodel back to country radio, or at least to the small handful of stations that played it. When her next single “Somewhere Between” cracked the top 40, she was given the go ahead to record a full-length album of the same name. Strong critical acclaim followed, along with her first real hit, “Cross My Broken Heart.” In the spring of 1989, the ACM named her Top New Female Vocalist.
Her second album was a big setback, as Moment of Truth produced two low-charting singles and mediocre reviews. But she found her voice the next time out. After a duet with Lee Greenwood on “Hopelessly Yours” went to No. 12, her cover of “Someday Soon” matched that mark. That lead single from Aces helped launch her only platinum album to date, and after she scored top ten hits with “Outbound Plane” and “Aces,” she won the 1992 CMA Horizon Award, defeating a field that included Trisha Yearwood, Brooks & Dunn, Pam Tillis and Billy Dean.
The label was in a rush to capitalize on that win, so she quickly recorded a follow-up album, Voices in the Wind. It was slapped together so quickly that they tacked on the fourth single from Aces, “Letting Go,” rather than launch with a new single. Still, that album went gold, thanks to the big hit “Drive South,” which remains her highest charting single to date.
Bogguss released one of her best albums, Something Up My Sleeve, in 1993. It showcased her writing more than previous efforts, and produced a pair of top ten singles. Of those two, “Hey Cinderella” became one of her signature songs. Her cover of “Take it to the Limit” on the Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles tribute album earned her another CMA award, as she shared the honor for Album of the Year.
After an interesting side project with Chet Atkins (Simpatico), she took two years off to begin raising a family. When she returned to the country market in 1996 with Give Me Some Wheels, the scene had changed and she had lost her slot at country radio. After another album with Capitol in 1998, she parted ways with the label.
As she switched to the independent scene, she took more liberties with her music. In 2003, she released on of her best-reviewed albums ever, Swing. Produced by Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel, the album was a top ten jazz hit. In recent years, Bogguss has been teaming up with Matraca Berg and Gretchen Peters for what they call the “Wine, Women and Song” tour, playing to enthusiastic audiences across the United States and England. In 2007, her Sweet Danger project was also a jazz hit, peaking at No. 4 on the Top Jazz Albums chart.
Bogguss reached another critical peak with her 2011 release, American Folk Songbook, which featured fresh interpretations of folk standards. She followed this with a tribute album to Merle Haggard, Lucky, that was endorsed by Haggard himself. In 2016, she revisited her breakthrough album, Aces, on its 25th anniversary, releasing Aces Redux. The album duplicated the original with acoustic-based recordings.
- Someday Soon, 1991
- Outbound Plane, 1992
- Aces, 1992
- Letting Go, 1992
- Drive South, 1992
- Hey Cinderella, 1993
- Somewhere Between (1989)
- Aces (1991)
- Something Up My Sleeve (1993)
- Swing (2003)
- American Folk Songbook (2011)
- Lucky (2014)
- Academy of Country Music Association
- Top New Female Vocalist, 1989
- Country Music Association
- Album of the Year
- Common Thread: The Songs of The Eagles, 1994
- Horizon Award, 1992
- Album of the Year
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