Suzy Bogguss was poised to be country music's next big thing. After winning the CMA's Horizon Award in 1992, she sold more than two and a half million albums on the strength of six top-ten singles. But Bogguss's eclectic and ever-evolving musical stylings left her stranded somewhere outside country's mainstream. Simpatico, the artsy 1994 album she recorded with guitar legend Chet Atkins, earned widespread critical praise but faltered commercially, and 2003's Swing, co-produced by Western swing icon Ray Benson, found Bogguss charting out jazzier territory. We recently caught up with Bogguss and asked about her genre-hopping ways.
Westword: Do you still consider yourself a practitioner of country music?
Bogguss: I love country music. I play the Grand Ole Opry every couple of months, and I keep it country there. I have had such an opportunity to try different styles. My friend Robert Earl Keen told me once that I shouldn't apologize for being a singer. It's what I always wanted to be. I did not have aspirations to be a "country star." I always wanted to tell a story, and that's what led me to Nashville: great songs.
What does the title Sweet Danger mean? Is your music dangerous?
The title comes from a streak of mischief that I have. I have many times put myself in a situation that I'm not sure of the way out. It charges me up to be challenged by the consequences of my impulsiveness. I have another side of me that is totally Suzy Homemaker, and I want to keep my senses sharp so I don't get lazy.
You explored jazz on Swing, but Sweet Danger is still a very different sound. Why did you decide to make this record?
I know that a lot of people hear jazz influences on the new CD. My co-producer, Jason Miles, is a pro in that world. I think of the music here as a fresh approach to the '70s singer-songwriter records, like Carole King and James Taylor. I was ready to write for this CD, and the first few songs we produced led me to these melodies.
What can people expect at a Suzy Bogguss show?
You can always count on me being pretty spontaneous. I said on stage the other night, "We'd like to do something we've never done before," and my bassist blurted out, "Like follow the set list?"
Visit Backbeat Online for more of our interview with Suzy Bogguss.