My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Spotlight Artist: Suzy Bogguss

Suzy BogusAledo, Illinois native Susan Kay “Suzy” Bogguss was born on December 30, 1956. She was performing in a hometown church choir by age five and playing piano, drums, and guitar by the time she was a teenager. In high school Bogguss was active in the theater program and was crowned homecoming queen in her senior year. She would go on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in metalsmithing from Illinois State University.

Bogguss played guitar and drums in Quad City area coffeehouses during her college years and began touring the United States after graduation in support of Suzy, a now rare LP she sold at her shows. She moved to Nashville in 1985 where her work as a demo singer landed her a job as feature female performer at Dollywood. The high profile gig encouraged Bogguss to record a demo cassette of her own that she sold at the theme park. The cassette caught the attention of famed record exec Jim Foglesong, who quickly signed Bogguss to a recording contract with Capitol Nashville.

Three singles were released in the late 80s, although none managed to make a mark on the charts. Somewhere Between, Bogguss’ first album for the label, came in the winter of 1989 and included the top 20 single “Cross My Heart” as well as a cover of Patsy Montana’s anthem, “I Wanna Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart.”

Now under the direction of Jimmy Bowen, a more refined sound followed. Her second album yielded no hits, but a guest appearance on labelmate Lee Greenwood’s album resulted in a top fifteen duet. By her third release she was finally making major headway. Aces, released in 1991, had four hit singles including the mesmerizing tile track and career hits “Someday Soon,” “Outbound Plane,” and “Letting Go.”

At the 1992 CMA Awards Bogguss was given the Horizon Award, an honor she no doubt richly deserved. At the time it was viewed as a shocking upset because she was nominated against Trisha Yearwood, whom the industry deemed the frontrunner and only winner. It got so bad that Yearwood went into the ceremony thinking there was no way she could lose. Then Naomi Judd called Bogguss as the winner and that was that (She and Yearwood were nominated against Brooks & Dunn, Pam Tillis, and Billy Dean).

Two more highly successful albums followed. Voices in the Wind brought Bogguss her highest charting single with the #2 “Drive South.” Something Up My Sleeve brought her two more big hits with “Just Like The Weather” and her signature tune “Hey Cinderella,” which began a friendship with her co-writer Matraca Berg that continues to this day.

Bogguss changed directions in 1994 opting to release a subtle album of duets with Chet Atkins entitled Simpatico. None of the singles charted nor did the record become the commercial success all involved were hoping for. This could’ve been due to a management shift at Capitol or the lingering effects of an ongoing feud with her labelmate Garth Brooks (between him and the label). I’ve also heard that Capitol was accused of spending too much of their promotional muscle on Brooks, thus leaving their ‘quieter’ artists (i.e. not global superstars) in the dust.

In the wake of her declining commercial fortunes, Bogguss retreated from the spotlight in 1995 to begin a family with husband (and songwriter) Doug Crider. Her next release Give Me Some Wheels came during a changing landscape for females in country music and proved her undoing. Her next album, Nobody Love, Nobody Gets Hurt would be her last for Capitol. An eponymous album was released on Platinum Records in 1999, but it didn’t fare any better.

For the better part of the last decade, Bogguss has been recording passion projects. A dream about Asleep At The Wheel vocalist Ray Benson producing a western swing/Jazz album led to their collaborative effort Swing. The more contemporary Jazz infused Sweet Danger followed shortly thereafter. The latter included “In Heaven,” one of the best singles of her career and a stunning return to form. Her latest project, American Folk Songbook was born out of inspiration Bogguss gleamed while on tour with Garrison Keillor. It’s her way of exposing new generations to that catalog of music, including such classics as “Shenandoah,” “Wayfaring Stranger,” “Red River Valley,” and “Ol Dan Tucker.” The album was met with glowing reviews upon release in 2011.

While she doesn’t have any new music on the horizon, Bogguss continues to keep a heavy touring schedule, opting for small intimate venues and even performing at some restaurants off the beaten path. She’s been one of my favorite vocalists since I was a kid and I’m over the moon to join my colleagues in spotlighting her music for the next month.

9 responses to “Spotlight Artist: Suzy Bogguss

  1. Michael A. June 3, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Nice summation of Bogguss’ career, Jonathan. I’m really looking forward to revisiting her discography this month.

    Interesting lineup of nominees for the 1992 Horizon Award. Based on quality I’d have voted for Yearwood but, over time, B&D proved more commercially successful. In 1992, I think Yearwood’s future success was a little questionable. Hearts in Armor wasn’t as successful as her debut album and its follow up (The Song Remembers When) only yielded the monstrously successful title cut plus one minor Top 30 hit. Tillis’ time in the spotlight was far too short. Dean was pretty much country’s reigning hunk at the time. (I think he may have even been on the cover of Playgirl.) Randy Travis was going through a bit of a “stud” phase then too. I’d take any of them over 2013’s Horizon Award nominees.

  2. Andrew June 3, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    I had a chance to meet Suzy last fall when she was in town for a concert. She was so nice and has a great sense of humor. The show was great too.

  3. Razor X June 3, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    When she released her first album, I thought she would become a much bigger star than she actually did. She has a beautiful voice and she certainly deserved more attention than she got back in the 90s.

  4. remotecontrolled June 4, 2013 at 7:52 am

    Good article – happy to say that there is some new music on the horizon though. No final details have been released but Suzy is working on a new album at the moment which I imagine will be coming out this year – she’s been talking about it on Twitter and Facebook. Keep an eye out for it! 🙂

  5. Paul W Dennis June 4, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    I think I always liked Suzy more than the general public did – her albums all contained thoughtful songs, with occasional old-timers thrown in. Also she has the most beautiful eyes !

    My favorites of her albums are SIMPATICO with Chester B Atkins,and SWING. Both albums were released after she’s stopped focusing on chart success

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: