It’s been over five years since Lorrie Morgan has released a new solo country album, but her fans’ wait comes to an end with the February 12 release of her new album Letting Go…Slow on Shanachie Entertainment. The twelve-track set features previously unheard material alongside covers of classic hits by Patsy Cline, Bobbie Gentry, Vern Gosdin, Larry Gatlin, Bob Dylan and Earl Thomas Conley. The award-winning recording artist recently took some time out of her busy schedule to discuss the new project with media via conference call.
Why the half-decade gap between projects? Morgan admits that it was a long, slow road leading up to the release of this album. “I actually had, I guess, a downfall in my career and my confidence, and I just didn’t feel like any of the songs I was hearing was right for me. I didn’t feel like my voice fit into the category anymore. So I just sang and I practiced and I sang and I practiced everyday and did different songs, whether it was operatic or rock ‘n roll or country. I would do all kinds of vocal exercises until I felt like I had the vocals I needed, and then of course I’d been looking for the songs and holding on to some of these songs for about ten to twelve years. So I knew I was ready to go in. I knew it was time.”
Morgan explains that she and producer Richard Landis were “very cautious of every song, every instrument that was put on the album,” making it clear that her artistic integrity came first. “We didn’t particularly cater or think about radio. We went in there and did songs that were Lorrie. The fans are gonna go on iTunes or Amazon or my website to get this album, and if radio embraces this album, God bless. I certainly hope that they do and we get some kind of miracle. But if it doesn’t, I didn’t sell myself short, and I think the fans have always known me for that particular quality.”
Morgan’s musical roots run deep as the daughter of late country legend George Morgan, and she warmly recalls fond memories of going to the Grand Ole Opry with her father every Friday and Saturday night while growing up. “Dad used to come pick me up from school and tell the teacher that I wasn’t feeling good because I would beg him if I could go to a recording session with him during the day,” she says with a laugh. “He would come pick me up and take me to eat lunch and take me to recording sessions and I’d get to sit there in the engineer booth and listen to him record, and that was like my all-time high with my dad.”
Being the daughter of a beloved performer, however, has not hindered Morgan from forging a musical identity all her own. “You just have to persevere and do your own thing. Make your own music. I know it’s basically a male-run business, but women have a lot to say and we draw a lot of strength from each other. I think there’s a lot of songs out there for women that are real important. If you always record something that somebody tells you to record, you’re missing getting your message across.”
Morgan describes country music’s gender imbalance as being “very discouraging to a lot of us women,” adding “I don’t know how it happened, when it happened. It must have happened when we were all sleeping somewhere that men kind of took over the charts. And I’m very proud for them. I really am. Most of them are my very good buddies. But if I turn my radio station on, which I very seldom do, all I hear is males. That’s all I hear, is male songs. And I don’t know how to get it back other than people are going to have to start calling and realizing that the women have some beautiful songs and some great things to say out there.”
She recalls, “Back when I first started going to the Grand Ole Opry, women weren’t even allowed to host the show…Jean Shepard finally put her foot down and said ‘I’m not going on unless I host the damn show.’ And they let her! They let her host the show, and ever since then women have been able to host the shows on the Grand Ole Opry. So I kind of think it’s going to have to be the same kind of ordeal. We’ve got some things to say, and we deserve some top spots in these charts as well.”
As a four-time divorcee and the widow of late legend Keith Whitley, it’s safe to say that Morgan has lived out the lyrics of more than a few country songs, but she says that her family and her faith have always sustained her through the toughest times in her life. “I’ve always had a feeling that God would pull me out from whatever rock I was under, and unfortunately some people don’t have that. I have a very close family and friends and a very close connection with God. When I lost my husband Keith, I wanted to lay down and die. I did. But in thinking of my children, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bear the thought of being without them and them being without me…
“There’s days I do want to give up – don’t get me wrong – I really do. Especially in this business. It’s not a business for sissies. You get old and you get tired and you don’t have the record deals you have anymore and things really get you down. But you got to call on your friends and God to get you through it. I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve been one of the lucky ones that have been able to march through those fires.”
Through all of her highs and lows over the years, Morgan expresses that she is very happy with where her road has led her today. “I am the happiest I’ve ever been in my life with my husband and my dogs and my great friends. I’m very happy with the music I’m making, my band that I have. I’m ready to go! I want to go to Europe, I want to go to go all over and play places I’ve never played before, so I’m ready!”
For more information on Lorrie Morgan, visit www.lorrie.com. Letting Go…Slow is now available for pre-order on Amazon.
Great article, Ben! I’m glad that she addressed her voice exercises, because from what I’ve heard from the album so far, she’s sounding better than she’s sounded in a long time! Good for her for being able to successfully strengthen it.
On a related note, Loretta Lynn is sounding amazing on her new album, based on a couple of tracks that I’ve heard from it, she’s sounding better than she’s sounded in many years too!
Thanks, Leeann! Kevin was actually the one who suggested that I ask Lorrie about how she strengthened her voice for this project, and I’m glad I did, as it drew some interesting comments. This album is definitely her best vocal turn in years.
And yay for Loretta! Cannot wait for that album.
Nice article, Ben. I agree with Leeann — I just started listening to the album before I started reading the interview and I immediately noticed that she sounds better on this than she has in quite a while.
The album isn’t bad but she made a major mistake in not changing the lyrics to Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay”. Between that error and the reggae beat , the recording is downright creepy.