Suzy Bogguss Gets Creative With New Music, Cookbook and More

An album, a cookbook – and much more on the way!

Written by Bob Paxman
Suzy Bogguss Gets Creative With New Music, Cookbook and More
Suzy Bogguss; Photo Credit: Amy Dickerson

Suzy Bogguss isn’t one to be, well, bogged down, even during pandemic shutdowns. Like most of her peers, she’s been relegated to the home front during the last year due to COVID-19 restrictions. But resourceful artist that she is, the “Hey Cinderella” singer has made the most of her off-the-road time, with some exciting projects in the works for summer and beyond. They include a new album, a cookbook, and a celebration of one of her legacy albums. On this day in early March, Bogguss took a break from recording to share the vital details with Sounds Like Nashville.

“It’s been so weird,” she begins, summing up her roller coaster-type year as dictated by the pandemic. “I’ve had some gigs that have been moved three times already, and some are now going into 2022. It’s always been my goal to be booked three quarters out,” she adds with a laugh, “but this is a little ridiculous. At least some of my fall shows look like they could be happening.” Bogguss thinks back to a year ago, when COVID-19 began to take its toll on the music industry, with tour dates suddenly becoming canceled and recordings put on hold. “In April of last year, it started hitting me that this was more serious than we thought,” Bogguss says. “Pretty soon, I realized that I couldn’t do my club shows, my Christmas shows, which I love, or my Chicks With Hits tour with Pam Tillis and Terri Clark. I told myself that I’ve really got to work my tail off now.”

She also had to get a little creative. That’s hardly a new challenge for the multi-talented singer, who has utilized her college degree in metalsmithing to develop her own line of jewelry as a side business. Bogguss and her husband, producer and engineer Doug Crider, devised a clever idea for an album that took its inspiration from being homebound during the pandemic. “We went to different rooms in the house to record the album,” Bogguss laughs. “We have a studio over the garage, so we don’t have to leave the house. One part was actually recorded in our dining room and then we moved over to the laundry room.”

Bogguss, who’s proficient on guitar and piano, kicked off the album by playing every instrument herself. But there was a certain sameness with that. More directly, Bogguss admits, “I was bored out of my mind. I decided to bring in some other musicians like Chris Scruggs, who really can play anything.” Bogguss proudly notes that social distancing rules were followed to the letter. “We were masked,” she points out. “We had our coffee breaks outside, we ate outside, did everything safely. It’s been kind of an experiment.”

Throughout the recording process, Bogguss has been releasing songs and videos from the project as part of another creative brainstorm, a fan subscription service called the Inner Circle. For $10 a month, Bogguss conducts Zoom calls with Inner Circle members, and gives them access to videos and new music. “Every week, we put up new videos,” she tells Sounds Like Nashville. “Some of these are behind the scenes videos, where fans can watch Doug and I mixing a song, or see how tracks are sent from one city to another. It’s like they’re going along for the ride. They get things that most people are not privy to. They are basically funding the project and they get the content before everyone else.” Besides bonding with their favorite artist, the Inner Circle subscribers have developed a special kinship through the service. “They are very close to each other,” Bogguss says warmly. “It is so amazing. Some have never met each other but they have become friends. They talk about other things besides music. It’s like having a group of cheerleaders,” says the former high school homecoming queen with a pleased chuckle.

Through this fan interaction, Bogguss is keeping her legions invested in the project, since they have a relative stake in it. She has yet to set a timetable for the album’s release, but looks toward early summer as a reasonable goal. “They’re getting one song at a time, but eventually, they’ll be able to buy the whole thing,” she says. “I’m imagining the album will be ready by the summer.” Meanwhile, she’ll add to her fan engagement with her weekly “Wine Down Wednesdays” livestream, which features performances and special guests like her close friend Kathy Mattea. “That’s been good for me,” she says. “It keeps my voice in shape and helps me interact with the fans.”

Bogguss also has another tasty project on the burner, you might say. She’s putting together a unique item, a cookbook devoted to soup recipes. The idea actually hearkens back to her college days at Illinois State University. “In college, we used to have soup parties in the dorm because we didn’t have any money,” she recalls warmly. The cookbook also took inspiration from a couple of birthday rituals. Each year on her birthday, December 30, Bogguss livestreams a soup recipe demonstration. “I also have been throwing a party for myself on my birthday for the last 12 years,” Bogguss explains. “The party became about 70 to 100 people. Kathy Mattea comes, along with [Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s] Jeff Hanna and [songwriter] Matraca Berg, my bluegrass buddies like Sam Bush, Pam Tillis – we all have a great time. I always made this vegetable soup for the party that everyone loved. Now, every year I challenge myself to do something wild along with the vegetable soup. The cookbook will have some of my recipes and some that I have collected over the years. There will be recipes for Texas chili and lentil soup that I’ve picked up from some of my artist buddies.” Bogguss is currently shopping the book around for a publisher, and has not yet announced a release date.

The latest item on the “Someday Soon” singer’s boundless list is an anniversary celebration of her classic album Aces. The record, which hit the charts in August of 1991, is considered Bogguss’ masterwork, spawning three Top 10 singles – “Outbound Plane,” “Letting Go,” and the title cut – and receiving overwhelming critical praise. The album’s success helped Bogguss secure the 1992 CMA Horizon Award (now called New Artist of the Year). Aces came at a particularly creative period in country music, which saw female artists like Bogguss, Kathy Mattea, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and others find an audience with their lyrically deep songs and meaningful subject matter. Bogguss remembers that the women served as their own inner support group during that time.

“That female camaraderie is something I’ve been championing for years,” she notes. “People think that because we’re females that we’re catty and jealous of one another. And it’s just the complete opposite. We always tried to boost each other.” She notices a reprise of that bond with the contemporary women of country music, who are speaking up for equal radio play for female artists, among other issues  “It’s nice to see that happening again with the women in country music,” Bogguss declares.