She’s been called Country’s Wild Child, the Texas Tornado, the Madonna of Country music, and a country outlaw and legend. Tanya Tucker has a couple of new titles now: comeback artist of the year and Grammy winner.
The Texas native brings her “Bring My Flowers Now Tour” to the Heights Theatre on Sunday, March 29, an event that sold out as quickly as tickets went on sale. The tour is named after the title song of Tucker’s comeback album last year, which garnered the CMA, ACM, and CMT awards, and four Grammy nominations with two wins for Best Country Album and Best Country Song.
The album was a collaboration without country artist Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings, Waylon’s son. Carlile has been a Tucker fan her entire life, admiring her go-it-alone attitude and ruggedness.
Speaking of life long fans (including this writer), I first saw Tanya Tucker on television on a Saturday morning in 1972. The 13-year-old was making a guest appearance on The Larry Kane Show, a local version of American Bandstand carried on channel 13. She sang the provocative “Delta Dawn” and I was hooked and have followed her career ever since.
In the late 1970s, Tucker took an interest in rock and roll with the albums TNT and Tear Me Apart. Country radio didn’t approve and she was pretty much banned from the airwaves for over a decade. The album cover and accompanying centerfold was scandalous in its day and is still talked about today.
TNT earned Tucker a 1980 Grammy nomination in the Best Female Rock Vocal Performance category. Donna Summer won for Hot Stuff. During this era, Tucker had a torrid affair with Glen Campbell, 20 years her senior, which included countless tabloid headlines and was fueled by cocaine and alcohol.
The “Texas, When I Die” singer launched a comeback that included a free concert at Miller Outdoor Theatre in the late 1980s, the first of many times I would see her perform live. My best friend took some amazing pictures that day.
One of the most memorable performances Tucker gave was at Astroworld’s Southern Star Amphitheater. The stage was covered but rain at the open-air venue was blown onto the stage. While singing, she slipped and landed flat on her rear end but held onto the mic and finished the song on her back. The crowd went wild, cheering her on until the end of the song.
In 1992, Tanya Tucker had one of her biggest hits with “Two Sparrows in a Hurricane.” That’s the same year my younger sister lost her bout with cancer. My mother loved that song and said it reminded her of her daughter’s family and their struggles.
I, along with my mom and niece, Tara, attended a Tucker show at the Arena Theatre that year. Mama was moved to tears when “Sparrows” was sung. That show was the first time I noticed a significant lesbian presence in a Tucker concert. Tucker does, indeed, have a large gay fan base, which she embraces. She was a judge on season two of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Since those memorable performances, I’ve seen Tucker at Rodeo Houston, the Pasadena Strawberry Festival, Moe’s Place in Katy, and the Fort Bend County Fair.
Being a life-long fan, I’ve introduced Tucker to as many friends as they will allow. My oldest friend Jackie is a fan and has attended several shows with me. Mychal and I drove to Lake Charles several years ago to see Tucker at the casino. He had never really heard of her but has since downloaded many of her songs on his devices, especially “It’s a Little too Late”.
Last year, Eman and I attended a show at Stampede Houston, and he was impressed not only by the singer but with the large contingent of gays in attendance. Despite the size limits of a honky-tonk, Tucker entertained the crowd for over two hours.
Since those auspicious early days, Tucker, 61, has become one of the most influential people in country music, amassing 23 Top 40 albums, 56 Top 40 singles and 10 number 1’s.
On “Bring My Flowers Now,” Tucker’s voice has been described as a comforting mix of wisdom and weariness. It has grown raspier since her teen hits and shows the miles of a well-lived but imperfect life.
Appearing with Tucker at the Heights Theatre is a singer-songwriter, Erin Enderlin.