- - Sunday, February 7, 2016

Country music is literally in Lorrie Morgan’s blood thanks to dad George Morgan. She started performing as a teenager, hitting the stage of the Grand Ole Opry at the tender age of 13. Three years later, when her dad unexpectedly passed away, Miss Morgan took over his band.

Over her four-decade-plus career, she has released almost two dozen popular albums and a slew of songs, including three number-one country hits: “Five Minutes,” “What Part of No” and “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength.”

But it hasn’t been easy. Several broken relationships (including six failed marriages) and a pile of heartbreak has followed Miss Morgan. But against all odds, she’s still here, with the singer releasing her first solo album in five years, the deeply personal “Letting You Go…Slow.”

Miss Morgan checked in to discuss her amazing career, challenging life and her love of Bob Dylan.

Question: You were literally born into country music. Did you ever think about doing anything else?

Answer: I love all kinds of music. My dad was a big crooner. He loved Dean Martin and Perry Como. I grew up loving all genres of music. But country music was my first love. Especially growing up at the [Grand Ole] Opry. It took precedence over everything else.

Q: What do you remember about your first time performing at the Grand Ole Opry at 13?

A: Not too much. [laughs] I was a wreck that night. I can remember standing on the side of the stage before my daddy called me out, and I was shaking. My knees were knocking. Finally, my dad called me onstage, and literally the only thing I remember is looking out at the one pillar post in the the Ryman [Auditorium] and focusing on that post. Because I thought if I looked at people’s faces, I would forget the words.

Q: When your dad died you were just 16, and you took over his band. How did you know what to do?

A: I really didn’t. I was winging it. [laughs] I really didn’t take over his band. I just started working with his band. I was covering other people’s songs. After about a year, I realized it wasn’t the kind of music I wanted to play. I wanted to stretch a little bit more. So I left that band and got my own band together.

Q: Your personal life hasn’t been easy. You once said, “Drama lets you know you’re still alive.” Do you believe that to be true?

A: I do. I don’t welcome it as much as I used to. I have gotten to the age where I am like, “Please, no more drama!” But when you do go through something that is dramatic and you come out on the other side, you do feel more alive. You feel like, “I’m a strong person, and I have conquered something. Survived.”

My life is a living country song. Without some drama, it’s hard for me to sing and put the passion in there.

Q: Has all that drama made you a better singer?

A: I think it has. I think it has made me a more passionate singer.

Q: Why was there a five-year break between your last solo album and your latest?

A: I think I had lost a little bit of my confidence over the last few years. That’s just because of the change in the music business [and] the way radio is. Radio sort of forgets. When you’re in country music and you start aging, they treat you that way.

My confidence started rebuilding when my shows started to sell out again. People were standing in line for autographs. Social media helped. Thank God for it. I have a lot of fans on social media. The fans brought the confidence back to me. I may be 56 years old, but I’m still hot. They just come in flashes now. [laughs]

Q: What does the title “Letting You Go…Slow” mean?

A: It’s about a breakup. Taking down your memories one frame at a time. And I’m not able to just turn the dial on the radio. I have to let you go slow.

Q: How did you decide what songs to record?

A: I’ve had most of these shows with me for 10 years. I knew when it was time to go in that these were the songs to do, and I was not taking no for an answer. When I called my producer Richard, I was hoping so bad that he would agree with me. Or I would have had to find a different producer. I believed so much in all these songs, and he did too. We were both on the same page.

Q: Among the tracks is a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay.” Are you a Dylan fan?

A: I’m a huge Bob Dylan fan! I love him! Have always loved him. When I decided to do “Lay Lady Lay,” I had to ask myself, “Am I crazy?” No woman has ever recorded “Lay Lady Lay.” The label asked me if I was going to change the lyric to “Lay Baby Lay?” I said, “Would you change the lyrics to a Bob Dylan song?” [laughs] “Cause I’m not!”

Q: Is there pressure in putting out a new album?

A: I’m not as worried about radio play or getting a number-one record. I hope radio embraces this album. I recorded this album for me and my fans. I believe in it so very much. I believe it is Grammy-worthy.

Q:What is the best part of being Lorrie Morgan in 2016?

A: I guess the best part is I feel good. I’ve got a great band together. I’m excited and looking forward to to getting out and playing this music for everybody.

“Letting You Go…Slow” is out Feb. 12.

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