Alecia Nugent returns with her first album in 10 years. "The Old Side is Town" is produced by Keith Stegall (Zac Brown Band, Alan Jackson and Clay Walker) and it showcases Nugent's diversity as she transitions from stately Country crooning ala Connie Smith to the salty earthiness of Loretta and a dash of Reba sass. Throughout it all is the remarkable presence that defines Nugent, and her experienced voice and thoughtful nuance are welcome anytime. The new album is now available for purchase now on iTunes / Apple Music and her website.
A native of Hickory Grove, Louisiana, Alecia became the lead singer of her dad's group, The Southland Bluegrass Band, when she was in her teens. She went on to record three albums for Rounder Records in the early 2000s, toured the U.S. extensively, and performed shows in Switzerland, Italy, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Austria, The Netherlands, and Canada as well.
Now based in Nashville, Nugent was awarded SPBGMA Female Vocalist of the Year honors (2007, 2008, 2010, 2011), and won the IBMA Album of the Year award for MUSICIANS AGAINST CHILDHOOD CANCER. She has performed 71 times on the Grand Ole Opry. She loves baseball, Peanut Butter Fudge Balls, fishing, and refinishing old furniture.
Q: Alecia, thank you so much for doing this interview with us. Tell us a little about your background -- I believe you grew up with Southern Gospel and bluegrass, tell us about the music that influenced you.
A: Hi Tim, thanks for asking me to be a part of your publication. Yes, I grew up in both gospel and bluegrass. My mom played piano in church, so as a kid my family would sing special music standing around the piano. I can remember most Sunday mornings, dad would wake us early to practice a song. He taught me and my two older brothers to harmonize by having mom play the notes until we learned our part. Dad played the upright bass and sang in his bluegrass band which was more of a gospel band than bluegrass, so in the summers we traveled to bluegrass festivals where dad would have us kids on stage for a song or two.
Q: You released three fabulous bluegrass albums with Rounder Records. How did you get to work with Rounder?
A: Thank you! In the year 2000, still singing in my dad's band, I was given the opportunity to record a solo album by a promoter in Mississippi named, Johnny Stringer. I asked Carl Jackson to produce it, and after picking songs we recorded it in 2001. Soon after it was finished, and released independently, Carl contacted Ken Irwin at Rounder along with the help of Eddie Stubbs. They offered me a deal, and we signed.
Q: After those albums, you did not release any new music until now. What happened?
A: In 2009, shortly after the third album was released, I decided to move back home to Louisiana to finish raising my daughters. My intention was to continue my music from there so I could spend more time with family. In 2011, as I was picking songs for the next album, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer, so I decided to put music on hold to focus on family. After he passed in 2013, I was too busy with what my life had become as a single mom with three teenage daughters to even think about going back to music. Then, when my youngest daughter moved out after graduating high school, I found myself an empty nester, and the music was calling my name again. So, I moved back to Nashville in 2017 in hopes to find my way back.
Q: Why did you choose to return after 10 years with a country rather than bluegrass record?
A: I've always wanted to record a country record, because most of my vocal influences came from country artists. When the opportunity presented itself to record again, I was given total creative control, so I decided to do something different and show my country roots.
Q: Tell us how was this new album birthed?
A: I was at the Station Inn one night, listening to some friends play, when the band asked me to sing a song. When I went back to my seat, I was approached by a gentleman asking if I was the same Alecia Nugent that sang Paper and Pen. He said he loved that song, and after talking a while, he asked if I had plans to record again. When I explained to him, I no longer had a record deal, he offered me a job working for his company, which led to more discussions about recording. Finally, he offered to bank roll the new project.
Q: How did you get to work with Keith Stegall? What did Keith bring to the record that you appreciate?
A: I knew I had to choose the right producer for a country album, so I asked Keith to work with me. In our first meeting, he asked what kind of sound I wanted for the project and I my reply was "a classic country sound." Then, after he heard the song I co-wrote about my dad, he said he would help me set appointments with other writers so we could write specifically for the project. One year and 20 songs later, we decided it was time to pick the songs, and set a date for the studio. Having Keith as producer, allowed me to join with industry folks that I had no access to on my own...the songwriters, musicians, studio and engineers. I'm very grateful for Keith and all that I learned and experienced during the my time working with him.
Q: The title track of the new record was written by Tom T. Hall. What's the story behind this song?
A: Yes, it is one of my favorites written by Mr. Tom T. but I'm afraid that's a story he never revealed to me.
Q: How does your current album speak to your fans especially in this pandemic?
A: I believe this pandemic has made us all stop, self-reflect, and hopefully attempt to improve our lives from within. We are all guilty of becoming so busy in our lives with things that don't matter (this side of glory), that once they were taken away, we're reminded the importance of our core values. Values involving our relationships. God created us for each other, whether it's family or friends, and he created us to be the church...his church. This album brings the listeners back to the meaning of our loved ones, how life and death affects us, and just how broken we are in between. The good news is...there is hope, and his name is Jesus.
Fans can learn more and stay social with Alecia:
Facebook: @Alecia Nugent Music