Tanya Tucker has a long, successful, and fascinating career. She got her start in the late sixties and early seventies singing wherever she could. In 1972, she had her first number-one hit song with “Delta Dawn”. At the time, she was only 13 years old but performed with talent and a voice that were seemingly beyond her years.
In the first years of her career, Tucker had several hits. She would go on to mature from a child star/teen singing sensation into an adult recording artist, something that not many young performers do. By the end of the 1970s, she found a creative home in the outlaw country movement where. It all started with her version of “Delta Dawn.”
Tanya Tucker Records “Delta Dawn”
To condense an already-long story down, Tanya Tucker recorded a demo tape that landed in the hands of Billy Sherrill. Sherrill was head of A&R for CBS records. He was so impressed with the young vocalist that he signed her to Columbia Records. In the beginning, Sherrill wanted Tucker to cut “The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA” as her first single. She opted to record “Delta Dawn,” though because she had watched Bette Midler perform it on “The Tonight Show.” They agreed and the rest, as they say, is history.
Watching her perform the track for a studio audience gives us a hint of the performer she would become in later years. While it is obvious that Tanya Tucker is very young in the video her voice, as well as her confidence on the stage, make her seem much older. By this time in her career, Tucker was well acquainted with the stage.
Tucker Turns Outlaw
Tanya Tucker lived out her rebellious teenage years in front of audiences across the country. By the end of the seventies, she started to move toward the outlaw country sound and image. There are relatively few female artists within the subgenre and she is without a doubt the most famous among them.
This transition is most notable in her 1978 album “TNT”. The album sported a cover that showed Tucker turning up the sex appeal. The album itself is a little bit of country steeped in Southern rock. It matches the sounds of other outlaw acts of the time like Hank Williams Jr.
The final track and biggest country single on the album, “Texas (When I Die)” is Tanya Tucker’s ode to cowboys and the state of Texas. It’s that perfect combination of honky-tonk country and rock and roll that makes outlaw country so great.
Whether you love her for her outlaw image or her prominence in 90s country, there’s no denying that Tucker has been killing it since before she could drive.