Amanda Smith | Feb 1, 2016, 2:14 p.m.
Fresh from a four year break from the music scene, Tanya couldn’t be happier to be back on tour and returning to Plant City – a place she says, conjures divine memories.
“Oh, I experienced the work of God at the Strawberry Festival,” Tanya shares with a laugh. She recalls being too sick to perform while preparing for a Strawberry Festival appearance many years ago, and in the hopes of not disappointing her fans, she vividly remembers praying for guidance.
“I said Lord, send me a miracle,” Tanya shares, “and sure enough, Nancy and George Jones knocked on my door and found me sick as a dog. Miraculously, George offered to cover my first show, and by the second I was well enough to perform. That kind of thing never happens – it was definitely Godly.”
That musical comraderie is one of Tanya’s favorite parts of a festival with no shortage of famous headliners, including the Golden Boys Frankie Avalon, Fabian and Bobby Rydell, entertaining this year’s fans on Tuesday, March 8.
With over 24 headline entertainment artists performing every year on the Wish Farms Soundstage, Strawberry Festival General Manager Paul Davis says, “We believe that with this wide variety of artists and all the other entertainment we offer, truly everyone can have a fun time at our festival.”
“I’ve definitely had a lot of good times at the Strawberry Festival,” Tanya says fondly. “It’s one of those places you can experience a really great fan base, because our fans come, and they bring their kids, and some of them even bring their grandkids. It’s pretty cool singing to three generations.”
With fans aging anywhere from 5 to 95, Tanya may well be considered a lasting queen of country – a genre she grew to love, and shine in with the help of her own previous generation. Her late father and manager Beau Tucker was quite the country fan and is considered very instrumental in launching her career. In 2009, she honored her father by releasing My Turn, a collection of covers of country standards, all originally sang by male vocalists. Receiving excellent critical acclaim, Tanya’s 24th studio album was one of her most personal projects, with all My Turn songs handpicked in tribute to her father.
“I picked the songs my daddy always wanted me to sing,” explains Tanya.“This is really a tribute to him, because he was with me throughout my entire career. He’s now with God above but I know he’s watching over me still and loving these songs and this record.”
With highlights including Ray Price’s Crazy Arms and Emmett Miller’s Lovesick Blues, My Turn clearly demonstrates her father’s influence on her career, but Tanya shares additional signs that revealed country music was her destiny.
“I guess it was God’s plan because country was all I ever knew,” she shares.“There was one little radio station in the little town I grew up in, in Arizona, so that’s all I heard. I don’t know, I just loved it.”
In 1974, when the influence of that little radio station and a country-music-loving father landed 15 year old Tanya on the cover of the most well-known music magazine in the world, Tanya now admits being more than a little naive about the gravity of claiming the cover of Rolling Stone.
“At the time, I had no idea how big it was to be on the cover of Rolling Stone,” she admits. “I was so young I had no idea.”
Tanya’s Rolling Stone cover story ran with the headline, “You’re Gonna Hear From Me,” and hear from her we have. For over four decades, her sultry voice and vivacious stage presence have helped to make her one of the most admired and respected female vocalists in the country music genre, with a resume boasting two Academy of Country Music Awards, two Country Music Association Awards, two Country Music Television (CMT) Awards and a staggering nine Grammy nominations. Recognized by CMT as one of the 40 Greatest Women in Music, Tanya has even been inducted to the Texas Music Hall of Fame.
With an awards list a mile long, Tanya represents far more than just her accolades – it’s her fiery stage presence that truly sets her apart. In a matter of minutes, she can showcase exquisite vulnerability exuding from the emotional lyrics in a number of heart-breaking ballads – and then suddenly she’s all sass – demonstrating a flirtatious and sensual side that keeps fans screaming for more. It’s this chameleon-like emotionality that has kept Tanya a crowd favorite so long, and among the many reasons to be excited that she has emerged from a four year hiatus.
“I’ve been enjoying my home, my three children, my horses and my animals,” Tanya says of her time off, which ended in July of 2015. “It was great to take a break, but now I’m so happy to be back out there. I’m bringing a new band, new music. Fans are really going to see me fresh.”
It’s not all novelty, Tanya assures. “I’m definitely bringing out the old favorites,” she says. “We’re gonna go on a trip down Memory Lane. There’s really too many to do in one show, I’ve already gotta plan to come back!”
See Tanya Tucker live at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, March 11 at this year’s 11-day Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City. See a complete list of performers and purchase tickets at flstrawberryfestival.com or stop by the Amscot Main Ticket Office located at 2209 W. Oak Ave., Plant City. To purchase tickets by phone, call (813)754-1996. Follow the Festival on social media: #berryfest16