Country Icon Pam Tillis Talks Touring, Acting, and Directing with The Q Crew Morning Show
In her 30-plus years in Country music, Pam Tillis has put together an extremely impressive resume. She's sold seven, count 'em, seven MILLION albums, had six number one singles, been nominated for seven Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards, 11 Country Music Association (CMA) Awards, and won two Grammys. She was the 1994 CMA Female Vocalist of the Year and has over one million listeners on Spotify each month. She's been in front of the camera as an actress with roles in a number of TV shows including L.A. Law, Diagnosis Murder, and Nashville, and she can currently be seen starring as Candy in the Crackle original series, Fairwood. She's also spent time behind the camera as a director for several music videos for young, up-and-coming artists. Even with all of that, she still finds time to make new music and perform in front of fans all across the country. That includes her upcoming stop at the Red, White, & Brauen Music Festival in Jasper, Indiana on Saturday, August 27th.
Despite her busy schedule, Pam was gracious enough to spend a few minutes with us recently to discuss her various acting roles, how she found herself in the director's chair, whether she prefers to be in front of the camera or behind it now that she's had a taste of both, and what we can expect when she takes the stage at the Red, White, & Brauen Music Festival in Jasper. Tickets are still available through the festival's website.
Take a listen to the complete interview with Pam in the player below, or scroll down to read the transcript.
(Ryan) Joining us now on the phone, a very special guest who has sold more than 7 million albums, six number one hits, two Grammy awards, seven ACM nominations 11 CMA nominations, and over a million monthly Spotify listeners. She's also going to play the Red, White & Brauen Music Festival up in Jasper on Saturday. It's the one, the only, Pam Tillis. Good morning Pam.
(Pam) How's everybody?
We are doing well. Sorry, does that embarrass you to have all those things rattled off like that? I never know.
It sounds like I haven't completely squandered my youth.
You spent your time wisely, there's no doubt about it.
(Leslie) And I'm kind of fangirling right now because I have to tell you that I didn't even like country music in my twenties. I was a big hair band and Prince, and I loved you. I got to see you in concert when you went on tour with Vince Gill in Terra Haute, Indiana years and years ago and I loved your voice so much and “Cleopatra Queen of Denial” was a female power anthem for me.
Thank you. Well, you know, I went through all those musical stages too, actually. So, I had the shoulder pads and the perm, and I did all of that for a while. I sang R&B, and rock, and kind of New Wavy Blondie and Gwen Stefani when she was with Missing Person, all that stuff. I liked it. But I came back to country and I've heard some people say that they didn't know they liked country music, but they liked me. And I wonder sometimes if some of my sensibility from my early rock and roll days didn't carry over just a little bit into my country.
I think so, I mean totally relatable, and your voice is something that anybody would like. I mean when you're good, you're just good.
Thank you. Thank you.
(Ryan) You're coming up to see us in Jasper on Saturday, for the Red, White and Brauen Music Festival and some of your buddies will be there, Aaron Tippin and Sammy Kershaw, the list goes on and on and on. How much touring are you doing these days? Are you doing a lot of shows still?
Yeah, you know, a fair amount. I'm not out as much as some of the kids are. I find that I do better and I can do a better quality show if I don't stay out all the time. Yeah, well, I know nobody wants to see you when you're all raggedy.
(Leslie) That's why we do radio. (Ryan) That's why we sit in the studio when no one can see us. (Leslie) That's right.
(Ryan) I know you're keeping yourself busy though, even outside the music world because you've done a lot of acting in your career as well, but you're in a new show now, right?
Yeah, that's a little side project. There's a show on Crackle. It's kind of a quirky comedy. It's called Fairwood. It's just kind of a funny little thing. I play one half of a mother-daughter duo. I'm the mother. And yes, it's just funny so people can check that out. And then I've also been doing a little bit of mentoring, working with some young artists, kind of helping them along since the lockdown started. And now back in early spring of 2020, I've directed six videos. Now, I'm pretty excited about that. It's just been on the different side of the camera. And so far I haven't directed a guy. So, I would like to do that. If any guys out there need videos, it's been all women, but I love the young women that I've gotten to work with. One of them is got a single at radio right now. Her name is Paige King Johnson, and I've done three videos for her. And I did a video for a young lady who got way up there on American Idol, Lauren Machete. And she's a sweetheart and the Render Sisters. So anyway, I like to stay busy. So that's been a fun little sidehustle, I guess you could call it.
(Ryan) So what drew you to go from in front of the camera to behind? Was it just a matter of having some experience in front of the camera and seeing what the directors were doing and just kind of like, I would like to try that, or I want to be in charge of something?
You know, it kind of didn't happen that way. It was a little bit organic. So, it started out with mentoring sessions where I would talk to young artists about their careers and about the game. I call it the game board. It's like the logistics of it all. How do you go from A to B to Z and how do you gain traction and all that stuff? It started out with that, and then some of the managers said, you have kind of a cool style. Can you help so and so with their look? And I started kind of doing that, and I ended up styling some photo shoots. And then the photo shoot thing just kind of…somebody called me and they said, well, can you help this? Would you be up for co-directing and writing a treatment with this co-director? The first one that came about, the co-director, he had to drop out of the project. So suddenly it was either move forward and figure out how to do it myself, or I would back out too. And I've never written a treatment. I kind of helped collaborate on my own videos, of course, but this is the first time I ever sat down and wrote a treatment and pulled it all together, put the crew together, and everything. And I kind of found out it scratched a little itch I didn't even know I had. I don't think of myself as the most organized person, but all of a sudden I was way in over my head in a project that calls for extreme organization and creativity. So, I loved it.
(Leslie) We have one of our radio personalities who does our PM drive, who came in here just to hear your voice because he apparently had quite the crush on you and still does on your voice when he was a little kid. He says maybe it was “Memphis Always” got to him. So here he is, he wants to say, “Hi.” (Travis) I got a crush on you. (Ryan) This is Travis. (Travis) Hi, Pam.
Hey, good morning, Travis.
How are you?
Oh gosh, I'm doing good.
(Leslie) You haven't aged a bit. You still look phenomenal.
I'm thinking of that Beatles song. Will you still love me when I'm 84?
(Ryan) When I'm 64? (Leslie) Yeah, he does. Yes. The answer is yes.
Remember that old Hank Williams song? Why don't you love me like you used to do? My hair is still curly and my eyes are still blue. That's me. Yeah. Thank you, Travis. That's kind. I love that I've got fans that have been with me for so many years. It's just incredible. And I don't know if you guys have noticed this, but there's so many younger kids, like millennials that love to go back and listen to nineties country and all that.
(Travis) Yes. They're calling it retro, and it makes me feel very old.
I'm retro. Oh, my God. I might retire before I get into…let's see what happens after retro?
(Leslie) Classic. (Ryan) Yeah. That's it.
(Ryan) Yeah. There you go. That's it. Before we let you go and we appreciate the time today, let's talk quickly about the show coming up in Jasper, the Red, White and Brauen Music Festival. What can we expect when you take that stage? Will it be a little mix of old, little mix of new, just kind of hitting the whole library? What are we doing?
Mixing it up. Doing some material from the new record. My new record called Looking for a Feeling and yeah, just a mix-up and some fun covers. And I haven't checked the deal memo, we call it, to see the show time, but we'll pack as much in as we possibly can. We always want to make sure everybody goes home hearing their favorites, for sure.
(Ryan) That is Pam Tillis. She will be at the Red, White and Brauen Music Festival in Jasper on Saturday. Pam, thank you so much for the time. We really appreciate it.
Thank you. You guys have a great day.