Born on December 30, 1956, in Aledo, IL; married Doug Crider (a songwriter and engineer), 1987; children: Benton Charles. Education: Illinois State University, degree in metalsmithing. Addresses: Booking agent--Suzy Bogguss Concerts, Attn: Suzy Fan Mail, PMB 186, 8161 Hwy. 100, Nashville, TN 37220. Website--Suzy Bogguss Official Website: http://www.bogguss.com.
The youngest of her family by eight years, Suzy Bogguss didn't mind growing up as a latchkey kid in the small Midwestern farming community of Aledo, Illinois, explaining in Country Sounds that she "had a lot of freedom and there was really nothing to be afraid of." This sense of independence was later expressed in the singer's recording of "Letting Go," about a college-bound daughter and her mother adjusting to changes in their relationship. This predicted a move Bogguss herself made: after graduating from Illinois State University with a degree in metalsmithing, she left to make her living out West.
She scheduled and promoted her own gigs and soon built up a following in bars, coffeehouses, and on college campuses in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. Though she lived out of her van, she was quick to tell the New Country Music Encyclopedia, "I wasn't really a rebel. I was just adventurous. My mom always knew where I was ... sort of." Much of that time she was on stage, strumming her Taylor guitar and delivering songs in a clear soprano that Country Music's Michael Bane reported "has echoes of Linda Ronstadt, echoes of Kitty Wells, and a little touch of Billie Holiday."
In 1985 Bogguss moved to Nashville, where she quickly got jobs singing at a restaurant and on demo tapes. She soon became a headliner at the Dollywood amusement park and was discovered there by Liberty Records (then Capitol Records) and signed to a singles deal in 1986. Her first hit was a cover version of the 1953 Patsy Montana classic "I Want To Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart," which reflected her own penchant for the "western" in country western. In fact, on a trip to California to visit her grandparents when she was 12, Bogguss had met the family's good friend Roy Rogers, and Bogguss told the New Country Music Encyclopedia that Rogers "had a real profound influence on me."
In 1987 Bogguss recorded her first album, Somewhere Between, which featured liner notes by legendary country guitarist Chet Atkins praising her voice, and garnered her the Academy of Country Music's Best New Female Vocalist award in 1988. The year 1987 also marked her marriage to Doug Crider, whom she had met when she performed his song "Hopeless Romantic." He has helped engineer her albums, and continues to provide her with songs.
Bogguss's second album, Moment of Truth, was released to tepid sales in 1989. Stereo Review's Alanna Nash felt that it lacked the grit of the artist's debut. This was perhaps due to the influence of Liberty's new label head and the record's co-producer, Jimmy Bowen, and to what has been termed "tasteful production" by some, but was derided as "faux Reba McEntire Vegas arrangements" by Bane, in a review of a later album. Bogguss's own explanation for the album's poor showing was that she hadn't asserted herself enough in the recording studio. She told Sandy Lovejoy of KNIX Country Spirit, "Maybe I wasn't hungry."
Other profitable ventures were indeed occupying her time---designing jewelry to sell while she was on the road, and putting together deals to market her own line of clothing in partnership with California-based Baguda Wear. Or maybe Bogguss was just avoiding confrontation. She had established a reputation for being easygoing in the studio, admitting to Lovejoy, "It has always been a part of my character to try to make a lot of people happy. I mean, I was the homecoming queen!"
Bogguss's strength and self-reliance ultimately enabled her to pressure Bowen to locate first-rate material for her third album, Aces. She also came up "with the unusual technique of recording in a large room in the studio instead of a small booth," according to David Zimmerman in USA Today. Bogguss revealed of the new method, "It gives my voice a real big sound. I never felt comfortable singing in a booth, and now I sing like I'm onstage." Her redoubled efforts paid off; Aces went gold at about the same time that Bogguss won the 1992 Horizon Award from the Country Music Association. In fact, she had been so confident that the album would do well that she booked studio time for her next project, Voices in the Wind, before completing Aces. In the meantime, she had been nominated for a 1991 Grammy Award for "Hopelessly Yours," her duet with country stalwart Lee Greenwood.
Voices in the Wind went gold in short order. Bogguss's video of the Nanci Griffith song "Outbound Plane" also received considerable airplay and exposed the singer to a wider audience that became captivated by her torch-like delivery and intelligent selection of songs. Songs like John Hiatt's "Drive South," from her 1993 release Something up My Sleeve, harkened back to the vibrancy of her earlier work.
In 1993 Bogguss appeared on The Tonight Show and Live With Regis and Kathie Lee. She performed "Take It to the Limit" for a Walden Woods benefit album of Eagles covers, and the swing tune "Old Fashioned Love" for a Bob Wills tribute album. In 1993 she also honored her mentor, Patsy Montana, on the CBS television special The Women of Country, and co-hosted the TNN/ Music City News Country Awards with Ricky Van Shelton and George Jones. She also mounted a sold-out national tour with Dwight Yoakam. Bogguss seemed to be relishing the exposure, telling Margie McGraw in Country Sounds, "When I'm 65 or 70 years old and sitting on my porch, I'm not gonna be sitting there going 'Remember when Boyd lost his bike?' I'm gonna be remembering when I was in Brazil, playing at a rodeo in front of 65,000 people."
Later in the 1990s, Bogguss no longer drew crowds of that size. The recordings she released weren't always suited to the brash "young country" radio formats of the period. After 1998's Nobody Love, Nobody Gets Hurt, Bogguss parted ways with the Liberty label. But she retained a strong core of admirers in the music industry, and she found backers for the release of an independent album, Suzy Bogguss, in 1999. A pause in her career in the early 2000s coincided with home responsibilities centered on her young son, Benton Charles.
In 2003 Bogguss signed with the Compadre label and went to Austin, Texas, to record Swing. The album was produced by Asleep at the Wheel frontman Ray Benson, a friend to Bogguss since her early touring days in the West. Benson injected a slight Western tinge into what was essentially a jazz album, and critics and audiences reacted warmly to the album, which mixed standards and originals from the pen of Nashville songwriter April Barrows. People declared that "Bogguss has the phrasing of a big-band singer and the timbre of her voice evokes Helen Forrest, the best of the white female swing-era vocalists."
In 2004 Bogguss followed up Swing with Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, a Christmas album in the same vein. The year 2005 saw her involved with Kid Pan Alley, a Nashville project that put top country songwriters together with groups of children in a group songwriting process, and then enlisted vocalists, Bogguss among them, to perform the resulting compositions. Though her days at the top of the country charts seemed to be over, Bogguss remained a member of the country music community with a deep commitment to quality work.
by John Morrow and James M. Manheim
Suzy Bogguss's Career
Performed throughout the West, early 1980s; performed at Dollywood amusement park, Pigeon Forge, TN, c. 1986; signed with Liberty Records (then Capitol), 1986, and released single "I Want To Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart"; released album Somewhere Between, 1987; co-hosted TNN/Music City News Country Awards, appeared on The Women of Country, CBS-TV, and toured with Dwight Yoakam, all 1993; released Simpatico (with Chet Atkins), 1994; Give Me Some Wheels, 1996; Nobody Love, Nobody Gets Hurt, 1998; Suzy Bogguss, 1999; signed to Compadre label; released jazz vocal album Swing, 2003; designed jewelry for sale at concerts; marketed own line of clothing for Baguda Wear.
Suzy Bogguss's Awards
Academy of Country Music, Best New Female Vocalist, 1988; Country Music Association Horizon Award (with Lee Greenwood), 1992.
- Selected discography
- Somewhere Between Liberty, 1987.
- Moment of Truth Liberty, 1989.
- Aces Liberty, 1991.
- Voices in the Wind Liberty, 1992.
- Something up My Sleeve Liberty, 1993.
- (Contributor) Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles Giant, 1993.
- (Contributor) Asleep at the Wheel: A Tribute to the Music of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys Liberty, 1993.
- (With Chet Atkins) Simpatico Liberty, 1994.
- Give Me Some Wheels Liberty, 1996.
- Nobody Love, Nobody Gets Hurt Liberty, 1998.
- Suzy Bogguss Platinum, 1999.
- Swing Compadre, 2003.
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Compadre, 2004.
- Richards, Tad, and Melvin B. Shestock, New Country Music Encyclopedia, Simon & Schuster, 1993.
- Billboard, June 19, 1993.
- Billboard Bulletin, April 9, 2003, p. 2.
- CMA Close-Up, November/December 1992.
- Country Music, November/December 1992; January/February 1993; November/December 1993.
- Country Sounds, March 1993.
- Entertainment Weekly, September 24, 1993.
- First for Women, April 5, 1993.
- Hollywood Reporter, December 9, 1992.
- KNIX Country Spirit, February 1993.
- Music City News, November 1992.
- Nashville Banner, February 2, 1993.
- New York Times, December 6, 1992.
- People, August 19, 1996, p. 26; May 18, 1998, p. 41; June 30, 2003, p. 37.
- Stereo Review, March 1991.
- Tennessean (Nashville, TN), March 14, 1992.
- USA Today, November 4, 1992.
- "Biography," Suzy Bogguss Official Website, http://www.bogguss.com (March 27, 2005).
- "Suzy Bogguss," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (March 27, 2004).
- Additional information for this profile was obtained from a Liberty Records press biography, 1993.