Lorrie Morgan’s Enchanted Christmas
Sunday, Dec. 18
3701 Mount Vernon Ave.
It’s been a busy and successful year for country diva Lorrie Morgan. February saw the release of her first solo album in five years, “Letting Go … Slow,” followed by a re-recorded hits collection, “A Picture Of Me — Greatest Hits & More,” a month later.
In addition to recording, Morgan has been on the road performing her own concert dates along with doing her “Grits and Glamour” show featuring fellow country star, Pam Tillis.
December finds Morgan touring with her “Enchanted Christmas” show, which comes to the Birchmere on Sunday, Dec. 18. This is the country star’s third time in the D.C. area this year, but her first time playing the Birchmere.
During an early morning phone interview, Morgan talks about Christmas, her new music, her gay following among other things from the front porch of her new home in Portland, Tenn.
WASHINGTON BLADE: What can fans expect from your Christmas show?
LORRIE MORGAN: The only thing they can expect is I’m actually not doing any of my hits. It’s all keeping Christ in Christmas and it’s all about Christmas. I just decided you know what, I’m not here to promote my songs. I love Christmas. I’m very dedicated to that time of year and I feel like all through the year I do songs about me and now it’s about Christ so that’s what we’re gonna do.
BLADE: Do you have a favorite childhood Christmas memory?
MORGAN: People ask me all the time about my favorite childhood Christmas memory and I don’t have any, because they were all the best I ever had. Christmas growing up at our house was a magical time. My dad believed in surprises and magic and candy land and just created this fantasy for us children that was a double-edged sword because when we grew up, we were in for a big surprise (laughs). It was always a magical time for me. There were no favorite memories, they were all perfect for me.
BLADE: You’ve recorded two Christmas albums, the popular 1993 “Merry Christmas From London” and 2007’s “An Old Fashioned Christmas.” With touring the last few holiday seasons, do you plan on recording another Christmas album?
MORGAN: Not right now. My next album I want to do is a country oldies and the next one is a gospel album. I’m really looking forward to that. I don’t know when a Christmas album would be due. I don’t think I could ever top “Merry Christmas From London.”
BLADE: Would your country oldies album be similar to your 2009 country covers album, “A Moment In Time”?
MORGAN: Um, not as lush as “A Moment in Time.” I’m actually gonna do it as a duet album with Pam Tillis. She’ll be doing part of ’em and I’ll be doing part of ’em. It’ll be produced by Richard Landis, so I’m really excited about that. Very excited.
BLADE: Speaking of Pam Tillis, the two of you have been doing a successful tour for the past few years called “Grits and Glamour” and recorded an album together (2013’s “Dos Divas”). You have this great chemistry together on stage. Why do you two get along so well?
MORGAN: It’s funny (laughs) I don’t know if you’ll understand this or print it correctly, but we’re like a couple old broads walking around in a daze in a new music industry … blind leading the blind and we’re having a blast. We laugh at everything. We’re blessed, selling out crowds. I get tickled and she gets tickled and most of the time I get tickled about her. Pam is … we’re both perfectionists in our music. I’m more loose on stage and she about falls off her stool because she never knows what I’m going to say.
BLADE: You’ve released quite a few albums that while they’ve had great songs, they didn’t get the recognition they deserved. Do you ever get discouraged?
MORGAN: Oh yeah, I do, but it’s a natural part of the business (pauses). It’s kind of like living and dying. You know dying is a natural part of living and nobody’s on top forever and nobody can be on top forever and you never brace yourself for that moment when your like, “Damn, I haven’t had a hit record in 24 years.” (laughs)
BLADE: Your new album, “Letting Go…Slow” is a mixture of different genres that features originals along with a handful of covers. What inspired you to record this type of album?
MORGAN: Well, it’s been over five years since I’ve had a solo album of my own and these are songs I handpicked myself, songs I wanted to do for 20 some years and for one reason or another never got to do them. I don’t know, I don’t feel like there’s a reason or plan to release a country album. I just wanted to release these songs. The song that inspired the album is a song called “Spilt Milk.” I heard that song, God, 16, 17 years ago. I was at a benefit in New York City and the entertainer that night was Kristina Train and I never heard of her in my life and she came out and was just this class act with a great band behind her. She started singing “Spilt Milk” and my eyes started crying, I was like, “I’m out of control here.” I finally got to meet her this year at the Opry and she was so sweet and complimentary of our version of her song.
BLADE: Has “Spilt Milk” inspired you to maybe record a jazz album?
MORGAN: Oh yes! I plan on doing everything. I’m excited about it.
BLADE: You released a second album this year, “A Picture of Me — Greatest Hits & More.” How did that come about?
MORGAN: Well, a label contacted me from California and they wanted to redo, remake the hits, which is always kind of weird to me. The only thing that interested me in doing it was I got to put new songs on the album. I got to do a lot of Keith (Whitley) songs.
BLADE: Any plans to do a whole album of Keith Whitley songs?
MORGAN: I want to, but it’s a fine line to what people think you’re doing it for and just being respectful. My son (Jesse Keith Whitley) is following in his dad’s footsteps and he’s doing great. I’m gonna save that stuff for him.
BLADE: When did you first notice you had a gay following?
MORGAN: God, it’s been a long time, a long time! Let me see (pauses) it’s been probably 30 years (laughs).
BLADE: What do you think the appeal is?
MORGAN: I think they know I’m real. I don’t judge people. I love music, I love singing about real issues and life and women just don’t go through that stuff, men do as well. I’ve had a lot of gay friends all my life. One of my best friends is gay and we have the best time when we’re together that I can ever have with anybody. I guess it’s just the appeal that I don’t judge, I really don’t give a damn what your sexual preference is, I really don’t care. You know what my favorite movie is? “Birdcage.” I love that movie, me and my best friend always … he calls Miss. Albert because I’m always like, “I need a Pirin tablet” (laughs). I love that people are lightening up and seeing that this is not a bad thing. I’d like to delve back, I don’t know if anybody ever has, but I’d like to delve back to the early days of Christianity or before and see (pauses) I’d like to see when people first started feeling those emotions. Wouldn’t you?
BLADE: Yeah, it would clear a lot of things up. I think so much of how you treat people has to do with how you’re raised and your surroundings.
MORGAN: I think a lot of it and most of it. What doesn’t bother me is the love. When you love somebody with your heart and soul, I don’t think God can look down on that. I just don’t. Now if you walked around hating people and looting, killing people, that’s not good. But softness and being kind to people, nurturing someone. I don’t believe God looks down on that. I did a gay pride festival a couple years ago and it was one of the most fun shows I’ve ever done in my life. These people knew ever word, they were dressed like me, we were excited, they were excited and we had the best time.
BLADE: Quite a few years ago, you said, “Drama is something that lets you know you’re still alive.” Do you still feel that way?
MORGAN: I do, you know, the older I’ve gotten I thought the drama would settle down, but there’s a new kind of drama now. I had a friend of mine who told me that every seven to 10 years you go through changes with your body that open your eyes to learning what you had questions to for years. Now there’s a new drama in my life, not so much romantic drama, boyfriend/girlfriend drama, now it’s losing people you love, it’s a different age of my life and kids growing up, and grandkids and worrying about different things. With each part of your life there becomes a different drama you have to deal with. Yeah, it still lets you know you’re alive. You have tears and you have heartbreak and I feel sorry for people who don’t have a friend who they have loved and have lost because there’s no way to describe that feeling of overcoming, but you gotta learn to live with it and it makes you a stronger and better person.
BLADE: I feel you gotta lose a little bit to gain more in the long run as you get older.
MORGAN: Well you are right. Let me tell you something sweetie, it only gets better. It does. When I hit 40, my girlfriend told me it’s like magic. You wake up and you’re 40 and (laughs) I get it now! I wake up and I’m like, “Oh my God, I know all the answers to the questions I had all these years.” Then you hit another slump and you’re an idiot again (laughs). Then you find out that every five, seven, 10 years, you hit this new horizon that puts you at another level and it’s interesting to sit back and let it happen.
BLADE: You’ve accomplished so much in your professional and personal life. What are you most proud of?
MORGAN: I know it’s corny, but it’s gotta be my children. What they lived through at the height of my career and they were little. I always tried to make their basketball games and their proms and their school picnics and I did really damn good. You know, I would cancel a $60,000 date to make my son’s basketball game. I didn’t care at that time. They were and they are the most important things in my life. My daughter is a wonderful mother and she’s full of funny, loving ways. My son is wild as a damn buck, but he’ll give you the shirt off his back. He’s just a good ol’ southern rocker boy. My grand kids and what we have, what Randy and I tried to make is a peaceful place our kids can always come. I’ll never turn my kids away. Are they perfect? No, show me someone who is. To me they are. My son gets to go on the road with me a lot. He sings a couple songs when he’s not working. I just love those kids! They are my life.