Singer-songwriter Allison Moorer recently visited Voice of America to talk about her new album of cover songs, Mockingbird. VOA's Mary Morningstar has more.
Allison Moorer's latest album, Mockingbird, honors many of the artists who inspired her as a singer and songwriter. The title track is the only song Allison wrote for the collection. She recorded the project with producer and Americana musician Buddy Miller, who Allison credits with helping her choose 11 cover songs that she could best interpret. When asked how it felt to record tunes written by legends like June Carter Cash, Joni Mitchell and Nina Simone.
"I tried not to take it to heart too much, because if you do that, then you start to second guess yourself and everything becomes too heavy and too important, and then you miss the point of making music entirely," Moorer says. "So, I tried to just be really careful about the songs that I chose and make sure that they were songs that I could do convincingly and successfully, and picked the ones that hung together the best as a collection, as a record."
Allison is the younger sister of alternative Country singer Shelby Lynne. They grew up in Alabama, and were introduced to music at an early age. Their father was a bandleader and their mother taught harmony singing. Tragedy struck the family when Allison and Shelby were teenagers. In 1985, their alcoholic father murdered their mother, then turned the gun on himself. After graduating from high school, Allison moved to Nashville, and signed a recording deal in 1998. Her debut single, "A Soft Place To Fall," was featured in the film The Horse Whisperer. The song brought Allison an Academy Award nomination. But, she's never achieved chart success with her music. Allison admits she never fit into Nashville's mainstream Country scene, and that's fine with her.
"Some people have a problem defining exactly who I am because I don't fit into a category," she explains. "I'm a singer-songwriter. That's the best way I can put it. That means that I sing and write what I want to write. Wherever I end up, then that's fine. I'm happy to have whatever fans I can have, wherever they come from. If they come from Country, if they come from pop, it doesn't matter to me. I just don't consider it my job to define myself as part of any genre."
Allison is currently performing a North American concert tour with her husband, Grammy-winning singer Steve Earle. She also plans to join him on a European tour later this year.