Grits & Glamour’s Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan Sparkle and Shine Together on “Dos Divas”
Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan, two of country music’s most illustrious and vocally superlative female artists, team up to make beautiful music as Grits & Glamour, and take time to rally behind the Louisiana SPCA
It’s an exciting moment in the landscape of music when a top-notch female recording artist/performer gives birth to a new album of marvelous tunes, but when you’ve got “dos divas” with a combined track record of 12 Number One songs, 28 Top 10 hits and more than 18 million records sold who unite for a wholly fabulous collaborative effort—look out world! Country music fans everywhere were tickled pink when Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan—two veterans of the country music industry who’ve rocked arenas around the globe, helmed world-class symphonies and earned multiple awards, including Grammys and CMAs—joined forces in 2009 to take their wildly successful Grits & Glamour Tour on the road, serenading and spellbinding audiences with treasures from their trove of classics, such as Tillis’ “Maybe it was Memphis” and Morgan’s “Something in Red.” The dynamic vocal duo then took the next logical step and recorded “Dos Divas,” a diverse collection of both duets and solo performances by Morgan and Tillis, featuring 14 well-crafted songs that range from heartfelt anthems such as “I Am a Woman” to rollicking romps like “I Know What You Did Last Night” (released on July 23). “Dos Divas” is an essential album for those who appreciate the soulful warmth of traditional country spiked with a contemporary, cutting-edge flair, compliments of two gals who fire on all cylinders when they do their thang.
And it’s a no-brainer to see why Grits & Glamour works so blissfully well: Tillis and Morgan are fun-loving, carefree country girls with their sense of humors intact, yet they’re serious, consummate professionals with powerful command over their God-given talents. They share myriad similarities, including their love for The Beatles and Merle Haggard, their common bond as daughters of country music legends (living country legend Mel Tillis and late Opry star George Morgan are their fathers) and their mad love for their adorable pet pit bulls. In fact, these darling divas have committed to be Honorary Celebrity Co-Chairs for the Louisiana SPCA’s 35th Annual Howling Success Patron Party & Gala, which will be held on November 2 at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans to raise funds for the many services and programs the organization has rendered for the animals in this state for an astounding 125 years. New Orleans Living had a remarkable time with both Tillis and Morgan, and thinks it’s high time for Grits & Glamour to hightail it to New Orleans and put on a show, but in the meantime will roll down the windows and crank “Dos Divas” up on the next drive!
Hi Pam! How proud are you of “Dos Divas,” Grits & Glamour’s new album? It really is amazing!
Tillis: Thank you, Christine! You put this record on a good sound system and it sounds great. We put a lot into it. It’s very diverse; there are some heart-tugging cuts on it, but there are also a few crazy moments that lighten it up. What was cool about the project is that the first time Lorrie and I toured together years ago, we didn’t know each other that well. We were really in the glare of the spotlight, it was a high-pressure part of our careers and we didn’t really get to bond very much. I’m so glad we waited a couple of years into this tour to record together because it’s a lot more reflective of who we are and of our friendship. It would have been kind of manufactured had we done it before we went on tour; now the record is a lot more personal.
Being on tour with each other must be a trip!
Tillis: It’s fun. It’s almost like you’re on tour with your college roommate! (Laughs). Working together on “Dos Divas” was a kick too. Lorrie and I actually wrote most of the song “What Was I Thinkin’” at the autograph table on tour. People kept coming through the autograph line with old pictures of us. We’d see a hairdo or an outfit and we’d say to each other, “Oh God! What was I thinking?” (Laughs).
“Dos Divas” is an album that pays reverence to the roots you share, but still keeps things fresh, interesting and modern.
Tillis: Growing up in Nashville inside of the business, we definitely have a lot in common, including our love for the sensibility of a certain ear of country music that we draw from. We have similar tastes and we love certain sounds from the 70s, 80s and the 60s too. Even though we were really little then, that stuff stuck in our subconscious and in our musical marrow.
It has been cool seeing you appear as yourself on ABC’s fabulous hit show “Nashville.” You’re such a natural for television.
Tillis: Well, I did have a little inside track, but yeah, that was really cool. It’s my buddy Callie [Khouri] who created that show. I have been lucky to be on there a couple of times now. It’s been really fun. What a nice cast! I’m kind of bummed that they killed off the mom of Hayden Panettiere because Sylvia [Jefferies] is a great girl. There are so many nice people on that show, and everybody wants to know what Chip (Charles Esten), who plays Deacon, is like. Everybody is great! Hayden, even though she plays a little witch on the show, is awesome, and so is Connie [Britton]. The whole cast is really cool, onstage and off. You’re like, “Really? You guys are this nice?”
Another thing that you and Lorrie have in common is an overwhelming love for your pet pit bulls, who are relatives…
Tillis: Oh do we! Yes, they are related; our dog is Lorrie’s dog’s baby. Not everybody understands these dogs so you have to speak up for them. Pit bulls are like people; I’m sure there are some pit bulls out there that are messed up, but you have to raise them properly, just like people. I think they’re gorgeous dogs. And can I just tell you, my husband and I are in love with our dog Pearl! Lorrie told me, “Trust me on this one, you will love this dog,” and she was right. I’ve talked to a lot of other pit bull owners whose dogs have the same type of loving temperament as Pearl. All Pearl has ever known is people loving her. She truly is a little furry angel. She’s spent a lot of time in the studio, sitting through a lot of overdubs and mixes, and she’s so good. Whenever we do a photo shoot, it’s really weird, but we think she likes the camera. She always wants to be in the picture. The first two minutes she’s shy, then it’s like, “Pearl, get out of the picture!” (Laughs). She’s an attention hound for sure!
The Louisiana SPCA is 125 years old this year, and it’s fabulous that Grits & Glamour will help celebrate this milestone as Celebrity Co-Chairs for Howling Success in November.
Tillis: I am so happy to be a part of the celebration! For years I was on the go, moving so fast that I didn’t have time for a pet. Now that I have an animal best friend who’s like a family member, I feel like it was a missing part of my life and my personality. Pearl’s been so healing in our household. It’s a sensitivity that came to me later in life and it’s just so important to me. It’s almost biblical. Like Jesus said: Whatever you do unto one of the least, you do to me, and I think that applies to animals as well. It’s like we’re supposed to be good managers and good stewards on this planet and we’re supposed to care about others and animals. I am really supportive of all the Louisiana SPCA does for our furry kinfolk in New Orleans and beyond.
Hi Lorrie! “Dos Divas” is such a spirited album with a good balance of fun songs along with some beautiful, poignant stuff. And the album cover looks like y’all have a touch of “Thelma & Louise” going on there!
Morgan: Oh, you have no idea! (Laughs). You’re right, it is a real girlfriend album. The day we did that photo shoot out by the lake, we had a blast. We had such cool outfits, great high heels, hats, gloves, jewelry and sunglasses—it was like playing Barbie all day long. The first single is out now, “I Know What You Did Last Night,” and it is definitely, “Girlfriend, I know what you’re up to. I saw you, because I was right there with you!” (Laughs).
When you were considering the songs for “Dos Divas,” you must have had to pay attention to how songs would turn out having two women perform them as a duet.
Morgan: Yes! One is a ballad called “I Am a Woman.” I think we’ll get a lot of activity with it. It feels like a big song. It’s a well-written song by Mary Sue Englund and Thom Shepherd, and I think it’s going to wind up being a female anthem. It’s everything women are and everything women are about. It’s funny because we both heard the song and both wanted to do it. Pam was like, “Are we crazy? This is a great duet! This is about us as women.” We both picked the lines we wanted to do. We are both givers, so if Pam wants to do something, I let her do it, and vice versa. We don’t argue about who’s got what line; we both know each other really well and we know who would do certain lines better. It just works.
It’s fantastic that you and Pam brought Grits & Glamour and now “Dos Divas” to fruition. Teaming up as a female duo is a really fresh, fun idea.
Morgan: It’s awesome! You know, we found a real friendship that I think we would have never found unless we had hooked up for this project. We’d been out on tour with each other for almost three years, and finally decided to get smart and record an album together. It’s a great album; we’ve each got solo songs on it and we do six duets together. I think we’ve reached that point in our lives when we’ll record what we feel like we need to record. We’re comfortable with who we are as women, and we’re having a great time out there doing what we love.
You and Pam are carrying on the legacies of both of your fathers, country greats George Morgan and Mel Tillis.
Morgan: It’s crazy how surreal things become sometimes. We both channel into our fathers so much when we’re on stage. There’s a video of my dad and Mel doing a song Mel wrote called “Oh Lord I’m Tired,” and we found it after we had been touring for about a year and a half together. My Dad was sitting on the exact same side of the stage that I sit on and Mel was sitting on Pam’s side. Just their chemistry and the way they connected with one another…watching that and then looking at Pam on stage, it’s like, “Wow, this is so frickin’ cool!” We are really channeling some legacy.
You and Pam have a lot of connections, from loving makeup, clothes and shoes to your musical loves such as the Beatles and Merle Haggard. Another big connection is that you love your pit bulls, who happen to be relatives!
Morgan: We sure do! I’m their dog’s grandma and they call me “Glam-Maw!” (Laughs). I rescued my pit bull about three and a half years ago when he was a puppy and I fell in love with him. He has such an incredible, soft personality. One day out of the blue, Pam and her husband Matt started looking for a dog, and Matt said, “Tell me about pit bulls.” I said, “Well, Weezy is the only pit bull I’ve ever had, and I’ve never been so in love!” Weezy is named after the rapper and Pam’s is named Pearl, after Minnie Pearl. Pit bulls are very misunderstood. They’ve gotten a bad rap, but they’re really good babies.
In Louisiana, many stray dogs are pit bulls or pit bull mixes, so it’s perfect that you and Pam are Celebrity Co-Chairs for the Louisiana SPCA’s Howling Success Gala this year.
Morgan: Oh, it all kills me! I can’t even watch the ASPCA commercials on television. They tear me up. I love animals—all animals—every single one. Anything we can do to help the little creatures find homes—I’m in. I even want to start fostering dogs. I have two Great Pyrenees and my pit bull, and we just lost a little Chihuahua this spring to a hawk. We absolutely love our animals so anything we can do to help those babies in New Orleans is fine by me!
I hear that you really love New Orleans…
Morgan: Oh, I do. It’s a great place to have fun. I was married to Sammy Kershaw for about six years, and we went down to New Orleans quite a bit. Sammy was going to run for Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana. I was with him during that time and learned to love all of the Creole and Cajun stuff about Louisiana. I mean, who doesn’t love to go to New Orleans and walk the French Quarter and eat? Everyone loves New Orleans!