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Tanya Tucker built one of the most successful careers in music through unflagging determination and undeniable talent. Her incredible success when she was just entering her teen years continued into adulthood, and she is among the all-time best-selling female vocalists in country music.
Tanya (tann' ya, not tawn' ya) was one of the first singers to bring rock and roll bravado to country music. She constantly takes chances musically and she's weathered all the vagaries of fame. If anyone can look back at their career with satisfaction, it's Tanya Tucker. She could easily lie back in a hammock and just enjoy the results of her success, knowing that she's proved herself.
Instead she recorded the thirtieth album of her career, "Complicated."
"Music is what I enjoy. It's constantly a challenge before me," she says to explain why she's not lolling in that hammock. "Making music and creating new music fills me with all kinds of emotions a little bit of fear, a hopefulness that people will like what I'm doing, some excitement in trying something different, a satisfaction in figuring out how to make a particular song the best it can be. There's always something more you can do, a way to make it bigger and better."
Her interpretation of lyrics and her choice of songs are a reflection of her life, Tucker says. "When I come into the studio for a new album, it's just naturally going to be different because time has passed. As you go on with your life and have different experiences you can't help but indulge them when you're singing. They are a part of you."
Tucker has also put her life experiences down on paper, in her autobiography, "Nickel Dreams" (Hyperion). Working with writer Patsi Bale Cox, Tanya has produced a book that takes an uncompromising, honest look at her life.
Tanya has plenty to write about. She decided at age six that she would sing, and told her father so. "I wasn't forced to do anything," she says. "My dad and I have always had an understanding. If I wanted something, whatever it was, he'd say 'well let's see what we can do.' He would never say 'No, that's impossible.' He would make it happen as long as I did my part."
Her part in starting a singing career meant traipsing through Nashville with her father Beau, trying to get someone in the music business to listen to her. Before she even hit her teens, Tucker would belt out songs for industry big shots and hear cold-hearted assessments of her talent spat right in her face.
Perseverance paid off, and at age 13, Tucker's rendition of "Delta Dawn" made her a star. In 1976, at age 15, she had her first greatest hits collection, a Grammy nomination and a Rolling Stone cover with the headline, "I-E, I'm Tanya Tucker, I'm 15, You're Gonna Hear From Me." The headline was prophetic. Unlike so many teen sensations, Tucker stuck with singing and continued to chalk up hits.
She signed with Capitol Nashville in 1985, and immediately made the top of the charts with "One Love At A Time... Just Another Love" and "I'll Come Back As Another Woman." With each album, she reinforced her status as one of country music's premier stylists. In 1991, four songs from her platinum-selling "What Do I Do With Me" became huge hits, including the Grammy-nominated "Down To My Last Teardrop." She won Female Vocalist of the Year honors at the 1991 Country Music Association Awards Show, but was unable to accept because she was in the hospital after giving birth to her son Beau Grayson. Her next album, "Can't Run From Yourself," also went platinum, and her video for "Two Sparrows In A Hurricane" won an Academy of Country Music Award in 1994.
She is the youngest woman in pop or country history to have a boxed set of her music available to the public.
In addition to her own albums, Tucker has contributed her talents to a number of tribute projects in the last few years. She is constantly in demand for guest appearances: She performed at the World Cup Opening Ceremonies in 1994 (to a worldwide television audience of two billion viewers); did the half-time show at the Super Bowl that same year and in 1996, and CBS chose her to sing the theme song for their NASCAR racing broadcast.
"I really don't think of myself as a star," she says. "I'm just a working mom. Still, things happen that amaze me sometimes. I went to Norway on tour, and I've never seen people act the way they did. It was like The Beatles or Elvis was on stage. There were 30,000 people screaming and crowding to the front of the stage. People were passing out. I counted 20 to 25 people being carried out. It was so strange. We had to stop the show to calm the crowd down."
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