Both Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tillis grew up the daughters of country music superstars — Country Music Hall of Famers George Morgan and Mel Tillis, respectively. But, though they had that bond in common, Tillis tells Billboard the two didn’t know each other growing up in Music City.
“We went to different high schools. Somehow, we managed to not meet each other while growing up. I started to hear about Lorrie when I was in high school. You’d hear that Jerry Reed or Webb Pierce had a daughter that was trying to write or perform, and I heard about her. She was starting to do the Ralph Emery Show, and I was too. So, I thought ‘There’s another one who’s following in the footsteps.”
The two teamed up with fellow second-generation star Carlene Carter for a Kraft-sponsored tour in the 1990s, but still didn’t get to establish a close relationship. “We were on separate buses, and were at the height of our careers. We were both going 100 miles an hour. We’d show up at showtime, get the show done, and go off in our respective directions.”
However, a couple of years ago, the two paired up for the successful ‘Grits & Glamour’ tour, and a close friendship began to blossom. “This time, we made sure it was very much a team effort. We’re on the same bus, sometimes we share dressing rooms. We combined our bands, and the whole thing has become a joint effort, and we have really bonded through the project. It’s been really great.”
The tour has sparked the new album “Dos Divas,” which will be released tomorrow. While Morgan says that she and Tillis would love to take credit for the idea to record together, she said the thought of an album hadn’t really crossed their minds – until a key group spoke up.
“Oddly enough, it was something we hadn’t thought about,” she admits. “The fans had to tell us to do this. Every night in the autograph line, people would ask ‘When are you doing a duet album?’ Finally, after two years, we went ‘Yeah, D-uh, we need to do that.”
The album is a mixture of uptempo, fun songs like “Old Enough To Be Your Lover” and first single “I Know What You Did Last Night,” as well stark ballads like “I Envy The Sun” and “Ain’t Enough Roses.” Morgan says the wide variety of emotions is a testament to their personalities. “I think that shows who we are. Pam and I both have great senses of humor, but have also lived through some heartache. We love romance and everything about being a woman, and it just shows all sides of who we are.”
With both artists used to recording solo works, was there any clashing that took place in the studio? Not really, says Tillis. “We’ve both done this for so long that we know who we are. She knew exactly the songs that fit her, and I knew the songs that fit me. On the album, we just tried to let our unique personalities shine. It wasn’t a competition as much as it was backing each other up. I love to sing harmony, and got to sing it with her, and as a solo artist, we don’t get to do that. That was fun.”
Morgan echoed that sentiment, saying they wanted to keep it light and easy in the studio. “We both tried to make it a fun project. We have both reached a maturity in our careers where we are comfortable with who we are. Sometimes it was a case of ‘Pam, I think you should do this line because you can sing it better than I can, or vice versa. You get more comfortable and more mature in this industry over time, and we’ve reached that. It wasn’t a competition.”
The two bring the project full circle at the end of the album with a take on “I’m Tired,” a Mel Tillis song made famous by Webb Pierce. Pam credits Lorrie for unearthing a little known piece of history that inspired the two to cut the song. “I had heard Webb’s version before, but she had found on YouTube a clip of her dad and my dad singing the song.”
“We had to do it,” said Morgan. “It’s our personal tribute.”
-Chuck Dauphin, Nashville