Lorrie Morgan – InterviewBy William Simpson • Oct 23rd, 2009 • Category: Artist Interviews
Interview by William Simpson
StageShottz Magazine talked to country superstar Lorrie Morgan at Stroudavarious Records this week. The daughter of Country Music Hall of Fame member George Morgan, just released a “standards” album called “A Moment in Time” and has a new album of original songs due out in a couple of months. She has also been chosen for the part of Lula Rogers in the Broadway remake of the hit movie “Pure Country”. I want to personally thank Lorrie for taking the time to talk to us, she is one very classy lady. Be sure to pick up her new CD’s and if you are in the New York City area next year wondering what to do, be sure to catch her on Broadway.
StageShottz Magazine: You are so talented with two albums coming out this year and you have a part in the Broadway rendition of the 1992 movie “Pure Country”, as my Mother-in-Law would say, what do you want to be when you grow up?
Lorrie Morgan: I want to be like me. I’m very lucky in that this has been a great year for me and a lot of opportunity. There’s nothing like having a second career and this is like my second career, it just all came together again and it’s just really exciting for me right now.
SSM: How did growing up in Nashville, in the music industry, with George Morgan being your father affect your view of the music industry?
LM: I learned a lot of the ways of the business; I really knew a lot about what it was about. But it was actually a kind of a deception, if you will, because when I was growing up in this industry with my dad, the business and the music–it was all different. It seemed to be more of a personable business, everybody knew everybody. It was very close and plus the music was created differently as well, but growing up inside this industry would be like if a little girl wanted to be Cinderella and growing up in Disney Land. That’s how exciting it was to me, this is what I wanted to be, what I wanted to do. Every day I was around music or the music people or the entertainers or musicians, I was very lucky.
SSM: Who are your early influences that helped shape you to become the performer you are today?
LM: Well, my dad was my biggest influence. My dad, to me, was the greatest entertainer, he was smooth as silk and funny and serious, he was sincere and just; he was great. And my first real influence was him and then of course I love Tammy Wynette, I loved everything she was, everything she wrote about. She was a mentor to me, her life and my life are very parallel. So I grabbed a lot of strength from Tammy, from her singing, her songs and herself. But those are my two main influences, Dad and Tammy.
SSM: You found an incredible love in Keith Whitley, how was it emotionally to find a love that just exploded like it and then lose it, just as explosively?
LM: It was the most devastating time of my life. I mean, Keith, the thing that made it so hard about Keith’s alcoholism and his addictions was that Keith was a wonderful person, a nice person, even when he was drinking. He was never abusive, he was never violent, never raised his voice at me, so it was really a hard situation to say, you know, I’m not going to take this anymore; I wanted to stay, I wanted to be with Keith, I wanted to help him, I wanted to change him. So because he was so sweet and loving that when he left the way he did, my devastation for myself was only a fraction of what my devastation was for our kids: for Jesse and for Morgan. Jesse just being two, just couldn’t understand and was asking, “Where’s daddy?”, When’s daddy’s bus coming back?”. It was a very difficult time but I was sole breadwinner at that time after Keith died and I had no choice but to pick up and get out and work because I could have–very easily laid down and died right with him, it would have been the easy thing to do. Our kids helped me get through it, they gave me a reason, they really did.
SSM: You’ve had such a turbulent life, are there any re-do’s or would you keep everything just the same?
LM: I think there’s a few re-do’s I would go through and do some overdubbing if you know what I mean. For the most part, I would say 90% I don’t know of anything I would do different. Well, let’s say 85%, 85% of my life has been normal things, things you learn by. You get crazy every now and then and you can get stupid every now and then but for the most part I think I have been very blessed. I’ve been with some wonderful people, I’ve been in wonderful situations and I think if I had any one particular thing to change in my life, it would be that I would have been more on top of my money. I wouldn’t have trusted so many people with my money so that one day I woke up saying, “Where’s my money?” and everybody is going, “What?” That’s a very scary situation, that’s the one thing I think I would change out of everything. Relationships, everything. That one thing I would have changed. I would have been watching my money and not taking someone’s word for what it was and really stayed on top of my finances.
SSM: I was at Jones Jam this past spring for the ground breaking for Country Crossing outside Dothan, AL. Your Hot Chicken Café is scheduled to open in December. How did you get involved with Country Crossing?
LM: Well, I met Ronnie Gilley through my ex-manager, Susan Nadler. I went down to Alabama with Susan and Wally Wilson and James Stroud. They laid out this plan of this Country Crossing, the city inside the city, where it would be a place for family, fun, and music and bingo. Just good old fashioned fun and eating and so they were like, “We would like for you to be part of it”, and I am thinking Okay, yeah me too…. but how real is this going to be? I mean is it really going to come to life? One thing I’ve learned about Ronnie Gilley, when Ronnie Gilley tells you he is going to do something, you can mark it down in your book, he’s going to do it. So I got to know Ronnie that way, and then Ronnie listened to my next album called “I Walk Alone” and fell in love with it and wanted to be involved with that album. He also heard my current album, “A Moment in Time”, and wanted to be involved in it. Our friendship just grew from the very first time we met, just going down to Alabama and being a part of everything from its inception and watching it grow and giving out ideas, my ideas, and Ronnie tasted my hot chicken and he said, “I’ve got to have a Lorrie Morgan Hot Chicken Restaurant down here.”
SSM: Speaking of your latest release, “A Moment in Time”, can you tell me about it?
LM: Well, it’s a pet project for me, it’s my baby. When Wally Wilson asked me if I would like to do the album, I first said no because everybody and their brother is doing one (a standards album) and mine is just going to get lost in the shuffle. So we put our heads together and we decided that we would try and make the album different from the rest being that we would go and record it as they used to do back in the olden days with no overdubs. And what went in the track is what your going to get on the album. We have some great musicians in Nashville which, as you probably are aware, we have the best musicians in the world here and we are very, very fortunate that they agreed to do the album with no overdubs. They were so gracious in saying, “Yes, if Lorrie is not going to re-sing it, we won’t re-play it”. So we went in and recorded the 14 songs in two days, because of their graciousness and their belief in their own talents, of course. But this was a very special album for us to go back in time and get some of my favorite songs from growing up, songs that were the reason I fell in love with country music. So, this is a baby to me, this is a very personal project for me.
SSM: So the 14 songs on this album, were they songs off of the list of the 100 great country songs that your Dad gave you when you were a child while trying to teach you about Country Music?
LM: Wally (Wilson) and I actually started with 1000 songs. I guarantee we listened to a 1000 songs and it was several month’s preparation into this album. Finally one day Wally said, “Lorrie you cannot record all these songs, you’re gonna have to narrow them down.” So I got it down to the final 25. I said, “Wally, I can’t go any further, you’re going to have to pick the final fourteen,” and he did. And you know it wouldn’t have mattered what he picked because I loved them all. Wally and I agreed on everything for this album. He is one of the easiest people I’ve ever worked with. He is a true musician and he is an artist, he’s a good singer too but he let me be artistic, he let me be the artist and we just didn’t disagree on anything.
SSM: Well, you mentioned your new soon to be released album “I Walk Alone”, tell me about it and when it will be released?
LM: That’s another one of my baby’s because this is an album I wrote all the songs on. I wrote the songs over the course of about a year and a half with my co-writers, Mark Oliverius and Kelly Lang. It’s kind of the soundtrack of my life, my life for the last two to three years. A lot of heartache in the album, a lot of tongue and cheek things, a lot of fun stuff but it is mostly growing wiser dealing with situations and just almost every song on the album was taken from true life with the exception of one or two and you’ll have to use your imagination on that. But anyway, it’s called “I Walk Alone” and we’ve been out on the road, selling it and its available on my website, www.Lorrie.com but it’s not in the stores yet. It should be in the stores in the next few months.
SSM: In the Broadway rendition of the hit movie, “Pure Country”, you have been chosen to play Lula Rogers, the manager of the main character, Dusty Chandler who is played by Joe Nichols. How did you get to be a part of that project?
LM: This is my third offer for a part on Broadway. And I finally said, “You know what, third time is a charm, I’ve got to look into this.” But the other times just weren’t right for me. The timing wasn’t right, my kids were still young, and I was just still living through the motherly guilt of having to work. They contacted my assistant and asked me if I would be interested to come in and audition for the part. We went up to New York and I first auditioned for Mama Ivy, which I would have been playing Joe Nichol’s mother and I got that part but they said, “You know what, I think you’re too young for this part,” thank God. So anyway, they said “Would you mind giving us a little bit of Lula” and I said, “Well, I haven’t really rehearsed for her, I haven’t seen her script, I haven’t listen to the song or anything” but I will do it. So I went back and rehearsed for about 10 minutes and came out and I got the part of Lula. We were supposed to go up in January to start rehearsals but it has been moved back to March. I’m going up next week to look at an apartment. So I’ll be living there for about a year and I’m kind of excited, I love the city and I like the country but I like the city, as well. So I’m pretty adaptable to things and this will be a challenge for me. I think the hardest part will be that I’m won’t be with my family. So I’m pretty excited about it. But I am taking my dogs with me; my two dogs a little pit-bull and my Chihuahua and my two fish and my frog.
SSM: Alright, so lastly, can you tell me something about Lorrie Morgan that the fans don’t know?
LM: Wow! Probably not, they probably know more about me than me. I’ve kind of been an open book for my fans and worn my heart pretty much out of my sleeve and I don’t think there’s much they don’t know about me.