Suzy Bogguss: Back with Lucky and better than ever

by Lindsay Hilton

Suzy Bogguss knows how to tell a story. Since starting out as a solo singer and folk troubadour in the 1980s she has been serenading her own heartfelt stories and those of other country and blues balladeers ever since.
Her success transcends musical genres, as evidenced by a long list of awards for her prolific career in music. The CMA, ACM, and Grammy Award-winning chanteuse has released a number of highly acclaimed albums since her 1989 major label debut, Somewhere Between, including an assortment of Top Ten singles in the 90s and her 1991 album, Aces, which was certified platinum. Over the years Bogguss has put her own spin on traditional American folk songs and given her candied voice to Johnny Cash, Judy Collins and Duke Ellington.
Her performance repertoire runs far and wide. In one set Bogguss will cover one of Patsy Montana’s yodel ballads and the stately “Beautiful Dreamer” by minstrel Stephen Foster, then follow that with a few cowboy ditties and some of her own folksy work.
Her first song to be played on the radio about 25 years ago was “Somewhere Between,” a Merle Haggard cover. On her newest album, Lucky, Bogguss comes full circle; all of the album’s songs were written by Haggard. However the newest album, like most of the singer’s other covers, is not a tribute. Bogguss is a natural storyteller, trailblazer, and above all a good listener. Haggard’s songs have been covered by a retinue of male artists over the years and Bogguss wanted to offer a new edge to age-old feelings.
“His songs are so universal that they go back and forth between people’s feelings,” Bogguss said. “What I really wanted to illuminate is not only that this guy is awesome to see live and awesome to listen to on his records, but his songs are very relatable for somebody else to communicate to other people.”
The album, which features folk, blues, and jazz undertones, will be released through Bogguss’ independent label, Loyal Dutchess, Feb. 4.
“I like to collaborate and I love to continue to press on with the learning experience. It is challenging yourself in one way, but I am not a maverick. I feel that is how Merle has always done it.”
Lucky was funded using donations from fans on Bogguss raised 150% of her $50,000 goal, and just as her new album harks back to her first, the way in which Lucky was funded also mirrors the funding process of her first. “Way back in the day when I was driving around in my camper truck I made my first record in Peoria, Illinois and I started raising money in the bars,” Bogguss said.  “I got loans from people who were my avid fans. I love the concept that now people can do this.”
Bogguss is playing at the Green Frog Feb. 18, and fans can expect some of her steadfast hits, some golden covers, and of course some of the new stuff. “We’ll be doing a little bit of everything. It’s a very eclectic show,” she said.