The Nashville, Tenn., singer and songwriter presents original songs and new takes on American classics
During a concert in 2008, Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Suzy Bogguss and radio personality Garrison Keillor invited the audience to join them in singing "Red River Valley."
"Then it hit me while I was standing on stage with Garrison Keillor," Bogguss says. "I had grown up with great music teachers. I had two who were really passionate and cared that kids were participating, but when I looked out in the audience, I saw all the younger people just standing there when we were singing the old folk songs. They could sing Beatles songs and even The Everly Brothers, but when we came to 'Red River Valley,' they were like, 'Huh?' "
The realization that folk songs were being overlooked in the wanning music education system prompted Bogguss' 2011 album, "American Folk Songbook," a collection of "all the songs from your fifth grade songbook," she says, including "Shenandoah," "Froggy Went A-Courtin'," "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" and, of course, "Red River Valley."
To accompany the album, Bogguss also wrote a 96-page songbook, filled with illustrations, sheet music and the histories of each of the songs.
Bogguss, who is based in Nashville, Tenn., will present several of these folk songs, in addition to her radio country hits, songs from a forthcoming album, and "parlor trick" — aka yodeling — songs, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, at the Music Recital Hall on the Southern Oregon University campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland. She'll be accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Chris Scruggs, grandson of Earl Scruggs, and upright bassist Charlie Chadwick, inventor of the folding bass.
Tickets cost $25 or $28 and are available at Music Coop in Ashland or www.gaiaconcerts.com.
Bogguss estimates she has released about 15 albums in the last two decades. The most recent ones were released on her own Loyal Duchess label, as will her forthcoming, 12-track album, "Lucky."
The album, named after Merle Haggard's "I Always Get Lucky with You," is a compilation of songs by Haggard and is set to be released in February.
"As a singer, they are some of the most beautiful melodies I have ever sung in my life," Bogguss says. "They are rangy. You can swoop on the higher parts and the lower parts. Well, I don't know when I've ever sung as low as I did on this album."
"In Between" by Haggard was Bogguss' first song to hit the charts and the title of her first album, released in 1989.
Although Bogguss' initial successes were tied to chart-topping country songs, such as "Someday Soon," "Outbound Plane" and "Hey, Cinderella," she also plays swing and jazz.