Tanya Tucker wasn’t the headliner Saturday evening (9-17) at Born & Raised Fest in Pryor, Oklahoma. She wasn’t even the warmup act for the true headliner Cody Jinks. It was Brothers Osborne who did those honors. But with the swelter of the late afternoon sun blazing down on her and her band, Tanya Tucker turned in the memorable performance of the weekend that exquisitely symbolized why this woman is worthy of induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. And she even had a little help from her dog Stella.
Tanya Tucker is nothing short of a modern living Queen of Country Country Music, who deserves all the rights and privileges that such a designation bestows. She proved this in Pryor, Oklahoma on the grounds of the famous Rocklahoma festival where Born & Raised is held. Words fail to express just what a majestic, iconic, uninhibited, and regal woman of country music Tanya Tucker proved herself to be in the 45-minute performance under adverse, extremely hot conditions.
Her set at Born & Raised Fest had it all, from performances of “If Your Heart Ain’t Busy Tonight” and “Texas (When I Die),” to the Grammy-winning “Bring My Flowers Now” from her career resurgent record While I’m Livin’ released in 2019. Tanya’s bulldog Stella came out on stage with her about halfway through the set to the delight of the crowd. Tanya even had a little table set up like a wet bar beside her, because of course she did. And it all culminated in a performance of “Delta Dawn,” which is how Tanya Tucker’s career commenced when she was just 13 in 1972.
Tanya Tucker has lived many lives and seen it all in country over the last 50 years. Along with many other accolades and accomplishments, it’s her her longevity that has made her career so remarkable. She amassed ten #1 singles, another nine #2’s, and 35 total Top 10 hits during her commercial heyday, including 24 Top 10’s from the mid 80’s into the late 90’s in her career’s second resurgence, starting as more of an “Outlaw” singer, but still landing big mainstream success.
After her Brandi Carlile-produced album While I’m Livin’ was released in 2019, Tanya Tucker has now been enjoying a 3rd wave of attention, which is one of the reasons she was playing the main stage of a huge Texas/Red Dirt-oriented festival as opposed to one of Oklahoma’s casino performance halls. This is no nostalgia act. Tanya Tucker is cool, and to a wide cross section of country music fans. There has been a very Johnny Cash-like arc to her career.
Her career also included the high-profile romances with Glen Campbell, Merle Haggard, Andy Gibb, and Don Johnson, which of course gave the gossip columns all kinds of material. It’s included “moments” on major awards shows and other accolades that made her a household name. But what Tanya Tucker’s career has yet to see is official induction to the Country Music Hall of Fame.
With the Hall of Fame institution’s extremely austere approach of only inducting two performers per year, Tanya Tucker has already been pushed out of contention in the Modern Era category, and is now being considered in the Veteran’s Era. With this rigid induction system in place, there always seems to be that one artist who feels perennially snubbed each year when the Hall of Fame inductions are announced. It was Hank Williams Jr. for years. Now it is Tanya Tucker.
But there is absolutely no question this woman should be in the Country Music Hall of Fame, and sooner than later. She proved this in Pryor. And they damn well better get it done soon, or they may as well bulldoze Nashville to the ground and start over.