NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 3, 2023) – Entertainment icon Tanya Tucker will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in the “Veterans Era Artist” category, the Country Music Association announced today.
“Hi, I’m Tanya Tucker,” read the cover of Rolling Stone dated Sept. 26, 1974, “I’m 15, You’re Gonna Hear From Me.”
By the time that rock and roll magazine hit newsstands, Country Music fans already had heard enough from the teenage singer from Seminole, TX, to know they liked what they heard.
Tucker was already an established Country act with three No. 1 singles to her credit. Eventually, she would place 41 singles in the Top 10 of Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart, including 10 chart-toppers. She would earn a dozen Gold and Platinum albums.
Nearly 50 years later, Tucker still has plenty to say. She also has one of Country Music’s most expressive voices, once described by journalist Robert K. Oermann as “somewhere between healthy, outdoorsy cowgirl and cigarettes-and-whiskey barroom buddy.”
Born Oct. 10, 1958, Tucker spent her formative years traipsing around the Southwest — Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Utah — with parents Beau and Juanita Tucker and their other children. Beau managed Tanya’s career from its beginning until his death in 2006. Because of him, Tanya wrote in her 1997 autobiography “Nickel Dreams: My Life,” “I grew up believing I could do anything.”
Homemade demos her father cut of 9-year-old Tanya didn’t generate any interest in 1960s Nashville, but in Arizona she appeared on “The Lew King Ranger Show,” a long-running Phoenix-based television talent show that also provided early platforms for Marty Robbins, Wayne Newton and Lynda Carter. She landed an uncredited role in Robert Redford’s 1972 Western, “Jeremiah Johnson.” While living and performing in Nevada, another demo landed in the hands of a Las Vegas agent who brought it to the attention of producer Billy Sherrill.
This time, Nashville took note. Sherrill signed Tucker to Columbia Records and put her in the studio with credulous session musicians in March of 1972. Even at 13, Tucker didn’t lack for grit. “Well, I know my part, boys,” she announced. “Do you know yours?”
Before the summer was out, Tucker had her first Top 10 single with “Delta Dawn.”
Tucker began her recording career with six consecutive Top 10s, three of which — “What’s Your Mama’s Name,” “Blood Red and Goin’ Down,” and “Would You Lay With Me (In a Field Of Stone)” — went to No. 1.
Tucker’s knack for picking hit material borders on the legendary, and back then her tastes leaned toward Southern Gothic — a spurned woman with a tenuous grasp on reality, an illegitimate daughter, a drunkard desperately searching for his estranged green-eyed daughter, a double murder, a love song that begins in a cemetery. Tucker came through Country Music like a Texas tornado with a “wild child” persona she sometimes lived up to. Her mature choices in material only added to her adolescent allure.
On her 16th birthday, Tucker signed to MCA Records where the hits continued with 1975’s “Lizzie And The Rainman” and “San Antonio Stroll,” and 1976’s “Here’s Some Love.”
She recorded with MCA for seven years, by which point the tales of her personal life, including a tumultuous, well-publicized relationship with Glen Campbell. Still, Tucker has said, “If I’d done half the things people say I do, I’d be dead.”
After recording briefly for Arista Records, Tucker brought her career back to life when she signed with Capitol Records in the mid-1980s. “Just Another Love” gave the singer her first No. 1 in a decade, and she followed that in short with three more chart-toppers: “I Won’t Take Less Than Your Love” with Paul Davis and Paul Overstreet, “If It Don’t Come Easy,” and “Strong Enough To Bend.”
In 1991, she won a CMA Award for Female Vocalist of the Year as she watched from a Nashville delivery room where she was giving birth to the second of her three children.
In 1994, she took home the CMA Award for Album of the Year for her contribution to the collaborative album, Common Thread: The Songs Of The Eagles.
During her career, Tucker has released singles written by Country Music Hall of Famers Bobby Braddock (“I Believe The South Is Gonna Rise Again”) and Don Schlitz (“I Won’t Take Less Than Your Love,” “Strong Enough To Bend,” “My Arms Stay Open All Night”).
In 2014, she was the subject of a Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum exhibition, “Tanya Tucker: Strong Enough to Bend.”
In 2019, she teamed with Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings to release her first album of original material in 17 years, While I’m Livin’. The album returned her to the spotlight, earning her the first Grammy awards of her career, for Best Country Album and Best Country Song (“Bring My Flowers Now,” which she wrote with Carlile, Tim Hanseroth, and Phil Hanseroth). Appearances at events like Bonnaroo and Stagecoach Music Festival raised her profile with a new generation of music fans. That comeback was documented in the 2022 film “The Return of Tanya Tucker.”
Tucker, of course, might counter that she’d never actually left. And now, as a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, she never has to. “People ask me, ‘How do you think you lasted so long?’” she told Billboard in 2022. “I won’t go away, so you’ll just have to put up with me.”
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