Alecia Nugent is a true country southern lady. She calls Hickory Grove, Louisiana, home. Alecia became the lead singer of her dad’s group, The Southland Bluegrass Band, when she was in her teens. She went on to record three albums for Rounder Records in the early 2000s, toured the U.S. extensively and performed shows in Switzerland, Italy, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Netherlands and Canada as well.
I am so glad Alecia Nugent is BACK on her Country AND Bluegrass music ground. We have missed her! Alecia had stepped back from the limelight ten years ago. “It almost doesn’t feel real,” notes the songstress. “I went home for a visit and didn’t come back to Nashville for almost ten years.”
When Nugent left Nashville she never meant to leave music behind, but she found, as many do, that life had other plans of its own. She says, “I lost my dad, lost in love and grieved alongside my daughter for the death of someone she loved. But I am grateful for the time that I had with them. For everything there is a season.”
For Nugent, this album is full of life, an album full of death and all the brokenness in between. “I’ve tried to embrace it all and grow personally, spiritually and emotionally and here I am,” she recalls.
Under the wing of tried and true Country producer Keith Stegall, they have created a very special album, titled The Old Side of Town, that was released on Sept 18. ‘The title song, “The Old Side of Town,” was written by Tom T. Hall, who is Alecia’s former employer and mentor. Alecia also makes her debut as a strong songwriter with five out of nine songs on the project.
I recently got to catch up with her via email and I am so glad I DID!
PH: How long have you been working on this project?
AN: We started recording April 9th, 2019, but I’ve been writing songs for it since early 2018.
PH: What was the creation process for the music?
AN: It started with co-writing the song about my dad with Carl Jackson, then after meeting with Keith Stegall about producing the record, he helped me in setting more writing appointments with some of the writers on the record. I think the only one I set up outside of Keith’s office, was with Larry Cordle and Kevin Denney (other than the one with Carl). After we had 20-25 songs to pick from, Keith and I listened through the songs, and picked the ones we thought worked best for the project.
PH: What’s your vision of the next six months from this project?
AN: Release three or four singles from it, hopefully have some luck on the charts, and schedule tours for 2021 to promote it. I’d love to get the chance to play the Opry again. If I get to dream big, a Grammy nomination would be nice too! LOL
PH: What were the most challenging aspects or obstacles for this project?
AN: I’d say…probably my voice getting back in shape for studio. I’ve been gone so long, and not singing enough to keep the vocal cords warmed up. Keith had to send me home two or three times when we were trying to cut vocals. He’d tell me to get rid of that frog in my throat and come back the next day.
PH: Was quarantine an issue with the process or had you been working on it already?
AN: Actually, the record was done before quarantine began. We sat on it for months after it was finished because I was busy taking care of my mom after having some health issues. She went back home to Louisiana in April this year, and I took advantage of the quarantine to get the project ready for release.
PH: Smart lady! What were some of your favorite parts about bringing this project to life?
AN: Definitely, working with Keith, all of the songwriters, and the day of tracking out at Castle Studios. Tracking day was a bit intimidating for me to be in-studio with some of my favorite musicians, but they made me feel like I belonged right there with them.
Asked what she’d like her bluegrass fans to know about The Old Side of Town, she replies, “That it’s still me. We may have changed some instrumentation on this record, but the songs are still songs about life. I’ve always gone down that road. I’ve always tried to pick songs that are meaningful, and songs that people can relate to. I hope they don’t judge the fact that there is no banjo and that there’s a lot of steel guitar. I think for the most part, most people who enjoy bluegrass music are also interested in classic country, so this record’s just me, letting my roots show.”
It’s not secret Alecia is known for making compelling Bluegrass throughout her early career. The IBMA and SPBGMA award-winner and former Rounder Records artist marks her foray into Country with a surefire Country song. Robert K. Oermann, one of country music’s most celebrated critics said, “Like all great country music, ‘They Don’t Make ’em Like My Daddy Anymore’ springs from life. It’s honest and soulful and true. Alecia Nugent deserves your heartiest applause. She already has mine. Her re-emergence as a record maker has me tossing my hat in the air.”
The track list alone sounds like a country movie in the making. Nugent says she can hear the sadness while listening to The Old Side of Town, and in fact, one of the tracks is titled “Sad Song.” She explains, “I can’t say that every song in there is about my life, but a lot of it is. It’s an album full of life, it’s an album full of death, and it’s all the brokenness in between.”
Yet there’s also a sense of humor on “I Thought He’d Never Leave,” and the breakup songs are not always what they seem, as in “The Other Woman” and “I Might Have One Too.” In addition, “Too Bad You’re No Good” gives Nugent a chance to show her versatility with an upbeat song, which could go bluegrass or country. And throughout the project, she gives the musicians, including fiddler Stuart Duncan, guitarist Brent Mason, and steel player Paul Franklin, a chance to shine too.
Tom T. Hall, sums it up best: “It’s kinda strange but two of my best friends and great singers liked the same song: Alecia Nugent and George Jones. Both recorded ‘The Old Side Of Town’: two of my favorite records. I’m not taking sides, but one is better looking than the other one.”
Gotta love the honesty of a Grand Ole Opry member, Grammy winner, 2002 Kentucky Music Hall of Fame inductee, 2008 Country Music Hall of Fame, 2018 International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and in 2019 Songwriters Hall of Fame… Mr. Tom T. Hall. He also has great taste in music and friends.
Alecia Nugent Notes: Nugent was awarded SPBGMA Female Vocalist of the Year honors in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, and won the IBMA Album of the Year award for MUSICIANS AGAINST CHILDHOOD CANCER. She has performed 71 times on the Grand Ole Opry.
Facebook: @Alecia Nugent Music
Instagram: @Alecia Nugent
Video links: https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=XgRM1-CXbpE
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Story by Preshias Harris