The hat still fits Canada’s Terri Clark

Country music star Terri Clark is in Vernon Wednesday to perform songs from her new Classic album as well as some of her past hits. - photo submitted
Country music star Terri Clark is in Vernon Wednesday to perform songs from her new Classic album as well as some of her past hits.
— image credit: photo submitted

Terri Clark’s got her hat back on.

The last time the Canadian country music star was in Vernon, during 2009’s Long Way Home tour, she had removed her trademark black Stetson for some of her publicity stills.

The move, she says, was a personal one.

Long Way Home was a sombre album for me. My mom had cancer at that time. She’s since passed away,” said Clark on the phone with The Morning Star.

Going through what she calls survivor’s remorse after her mother’s death, Clark eventually got back in the saddle to record 2011’s Roots and Wings. The album featured reflective songs such as Northern Girl, and a few party wranglers such as Trooper’s We’re Here for a Good Time.

“When a member of your family is terminally ill, it’s like a roller coaster ride, so when my mom was set free, musically and personally I went through a rebirth. I wanted to celebrate life again, so I put my hat back on,” said Clark.

About to return to Vernon Wednesday, Clark continues to celebrate the past and present with her new album Classic, which features songs she grew up on.

“Every song on Classic has ties into the past. It transported me to the time I sang with my grandparents or when I was nine singing Delta Dawn, or when my mom was singing with me.”

Then there’s the song, Two More Bottles of Wine, also on the album, which Clark says reminds her of the time she opened for George Strait.

Way before that experience, and even before moving to the Hat (Medicine Hat, that is) and Nashville, Clark grew up in the decidedly non-country city of Montréal.

The spawn of a musical family, Clark’s maternal grandparents, who raised five kids, were known country artists who performed in Montréal nightclubs.

Clark’s grandmother was nicknamed the Canadian Kitty Wells, and it’s her voice that can be heard singing Wells’ This White Circle on my Finger on Classic just before Clark kicks in with another Wells’ classic, It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.

Another song heard on the album goes back to when Clark was an elementary school student.

“One of the first songs I learned to play on my guitar was Tanya Tucker’s Delta Dawn,” said Clark, who even asked the Opry legend to visit the Nashville studio, where Clark recorded Classic, to reprise her 1972 hit.

Another one of Clark’s idols, Reba McEntire, also visited the studio to record a duet to her 1984 song, How Blue.

“I never would have thought when I was young that I would have Reba and Tanya Tucker singing their songs on my album,” said Clark adding Dierks Bentley also came in to record with her George Jones and Tammy Wynette’s Golden Ring.

“They were all so gracious with their time. I made a list of the names I wanted to sing some of these songs with me. I thought not all of them would be able to do it, but I ended up with two-times the number of duets that I had originally thought because they all said yes.”

After making a name for herself around Alberta, Clark first went down to Music City in ‘87, with the encouragement of her mother. After scoring a record deal in ‘94, she hit the road, a bona fide country star, and says she really hasn’t looked back.

Although she still lays her hat in Nashville to record and play the Grand Ol’ Opry (Clark became a member of the country institution in 2004), she rarely spends any length of time there these days as she is  either touring or resting at one of her homes in Canada, including the Ontario cottage where she likes to spend her summers.

“I went to Nashville to get into the industry and I’ve seen a lot of changes since with technology and the downloading of music. There used to be at least 10 labels down there, now there’s only two,” she said. “There are more cliques there now. It used to be the best, kept secret. Now it’s more Hollywood than it used to be.”

After splitting with her label some years back, Clark has independently produced her last three albums and says she has enjoyed the creative freedom. She, along with her longtime co-producer/engineer, Jeff Jones, worked together to bring Classic to life.

“I trust him with the details and the administrative stuff so I can stay focussed on the creative stuff and not slave over my vocals. You have to trust someone for that,” she said.

With her Canadian tour winding its way through B.C. this month, Clark is also looking forward to this summer when she returns to the cottage for some R&R, with a side trip to Ottawa to play for the Canada Day festivities.

“I will probably play Northern Girl for that one,” she hinted.

Fans attending her Vernon show can expect that song, along with a number of Clark’s other big hits, and, of course, those classic songs from her new album that have helped place her hat back where it belongs.

Wednesday’s concert with Terri Clark starts at the Performing Arts Centre at 7:30 p.m. Opening is up-and-coming country artist Kira Isabella. Tickets are $48, available at the Ticket Seller box office, 549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.


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