You have to go all the way back to 2002’s Tanya to find the last time country icon Tanya Tucker released a proper album of new material; her classic covers album from 2009 notwithstanding. That’s 17 years to save up songs and inspiration, and now Tanya is ready to make a roaring return. Not just your average release from an aging country legend, Tanya’s new title called While I’m Living is being touted as a comeback record, and will be accompanied by a documentary film called Delta Dawn Then and Now: The Return of Tanya Tucker. The sister projects are meant to give renewed attention to one of country music’s overlooked stars, and one of the few women associated with country music’s Outlaw movement.
The new album will be produced by new 3-time Grammy winner Brandi Carlile, along with Shooter Jennings. Carlile previously produced a record for The Secret Sisters (and they may have a 2nd Carlile-produced record coming), and Shooter co-produced Carlile’s Grammy-minted By The Way, I Forgive You with Dave Cobb. Jennings also previously worked with Tanya Tucker on a re-recording of Hellbound Glory’s “Better Hope You Die Young” as a duet with frontman Leroy Virgil.
While I’m Living was recorded in Hollywood in January. Initially Shooter Jennings was to be the only producer, but he decided to bring Brandi Carlile in after starting the process. A camera crew followed Tanya through the recording of the album for the documentary. The film is also being executive produced by Carlile.
“For some reason, in country music, we have a way of not telling legends they’re legends until they’re 80, when we could have told them when they were 60 and they would have still had 30 years to teach us and stay in the spotlight and stay relevant to us,” says Brandi Carlile. “We wait until they’re so old, before we have these tributes for them, and it’s beautiful. But we should have done this for Willie when he was 60 and should have done this for Loretta when she was 60. So this record’s called ‘While I’m Living’ because I’ll be God-damned if we’re not going to tribute her while she’s living.”
Another famous producer also helped mentor the 60-year-old Tucker on how to approach the project: Rick Rubin, who took Johnny Cash from an out-to-pasture country artist forgotten by the popular genre to a legend for an entirely new generation. It may be wishful to think that Tanya Tucker’s reboot will reach the same heights, but it doesn’t hurt to swing for the fences and try. With ten #1 hits, another eight #2’s, and 39 Top 10’s total, Tanya Tucker has logged an incredible career going all the way back to her first hit “Delta Dawn” when she was only 13-years-old in 1972.
No release date has been set for the album or film just yet. Expect to hear something by this fall if not sooner.