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My 15 Minutes With the Fabulous Jeannie Seely at CRS 2020

Photo courtesy of Jeannie Seely

She’s a country music legend.  She’s worked with so many of the greats over the years and she has stories for days, how does one possibly interview someone like Jeannie Seely in 15 minutes?  I’ll tell you how. You cover her latest project, of course, and believe me, it’s worth a lot more than 15 minutes, but you hit the highlights and then hope there’s a little time for some extras.  

If you’ve been a long time country fan, you know Jeannie Seely.  If you’ve been to the Grand Ole Opry, chances are good you’ve seen her there.  She’s one of the best of the best and she’s also the sweetest, funniest, coolest ladies ever.  I could listen to her forever, but CRS is a virtual assembly line of interviews, one walks out, another walks in.  That’s exactly how it goes. Time was precious, so I did my best. Have a seat and enjoy our conversation.

Think Country:  Hi Jeannie. So, what’s new besides you taking over the world?

Jeannie Seely:  (Laughing) Well, let’s see, I’m really excited about a new album.

TC:  That’s exciting!

JS:  This is especially exciting for me.  Don Cusic, who is a music professor at Belmont, contacted me and he said, “I would like to do a podcast with you because your story is so unique,” and I said, “My story is that interesting?” He said, “Your past has been crazy.”  So, anyway, he produced an album that will be on Curb Records and released June 5, 2020, and they are talking about doing a digital single release first. I’m hoping that happens and that it will be my duet with Willie Nelson.

TC:  Oh, my goodness.

JS:  So, I’m super thrilled.  I’m thrilled over every guest that’s on the album with me.

TC:  Are there a lot of guests?

JS:  Yes, and he (Don Cusic) said, “I want some talking points,” and I said, “Well, I can talk.”

TC:  Well, you are a woman, it’s what we do.  (Laughing)

JS:  (Laughing) Yes.  One of the things that’s really special to me, are you familiar with Waylon Payne?  

TC:  I am not, but you can tell me about him.  

JS:  Waylon Payne is a young artist, writer and actor.  His father was Jody Payne who played guitar for Willie Nelson for thirty-something years.  His mother was Sammi Smith.

TC:  There’s a name I know.

JS:  Sammi was my friend so I remember when Waylon was born.  He was in to do the Opry and he said, “I know you recorded this song with my dad on his album, would you sing ‘Old Flames (Can’t Hold a Candle To You)’ on the Opry with me?”  So, I’m like, “Whoa, yeah!” It was so funny looking at him across the microphone after all those shows I opened for Willie Nelson singing that song with his dad. So, it was just something, and then I was listening to the playback on the Opry on the way home and I thought our voices blend pretty well.  Talk about a talking point.

Photo courtesy of Grand Ole Opry and Jeannie Seely

TC:  That’s a talking point for sure.

JS:  So, I invited Waylon to record that on the album with me.

TC:  Does he resemble one or the other of his parents?

JS:  Yes, I think he’s built wiry like his dad, but his face is a lot like Sammi’s.

TC:  Is it a little like looking into the past when you look at him?

JS:  Oh, I’ll tell you, it’s just something to be around him.  He’s a very, very talented writer too. I’m trying to think of the movie he was in, I can’t think of it right now, but anyway, that’s one of the guests on there that I’m very proud of.  Also, Ray Stevens. Love Ray Stevens!

Photo courtesy of Jeannie Seely

TC:  That makes me so happy.  My late mother-in-law, she loved Ray Stevens.  He was her favorite.  

JS:  Oh, what’s not to love?

TC:  Is he as funny and likable as he seems like he’d be, because I haven’t met him.

JS:  Yes, every bit, and if you haven’t been out to the CabaRay (Ray Stevens CabaRay) you need to go

TC:  I haven’t been there yet, can you believe it?

JS:  It’s such a great show and the food is wonderful.  I’m just trying to find time in this crazy schedule to get back out there.  Also, there will be my buddy Bill Anderson. He and Roger Miller wrote “When Two Worlds Collide”, which has always been one of my favorite songs, and Bill and I perform that on a lot of the road shows we do together, so I asked Bill to record that with me.

Photo courtesy of Moser Photography and Jeannie Seely

TC:  I’m sure he didn’t say no.

JS:  No, and I’m so happy about that.  I love Bill Anderson. Of course, I had to add a little “rogueyness” to it, so who better than Lorrie Morgan?  A little girlfriend rogue. We did a song Tim Atwood wrote called “That’s How I Roll”. It gets a little spunky.

Photo courtesy of Jeannie Seely

TC:  You need a little spunk.

JS:  Rhonda Vincent came in and sang harmony with me on one.  The Whites are on there.

TC:  Oh, The Whites are an Opry staple.  They must be like family to you.

JS:  Of course, Rhonda just gave me a number one bluegrass record with “Like I Could”, a song I wrote with Bobby Tomberlin and Erin Enderlin.

TC:  So amazing!

JS:  Yeah, I’ve never had a number one bluegrass record.

TC:  Well, there’s a first time for everything, right?

JS:  And she’s so awesome.

TC:  Are you still writing?

JS:  I’m just kind of starting to get back into it.  I got away from it for several years and I’m just recently getting back into it again.

TC:  Did you just have the inclination to do it or did someone encourage you to?

JS:  Well, so many of the young artists and writers have been asking me to write with them, but see, I had never set an appointment to write like they do now.

TC:  Now everybody has a schedule.

JS:  Exactly.  I always thought, “How do you make an appointment to know that your brain will think creatively two months from now at two o’clock on whatever day?”

TC:  That sounds like something I heard Travis Meadows say before.  He said he can’t know that he’s going to be able to write a song at 10 AM on a Thursday about a truck.  He doesn’t work that way. That kind of thing happens when it happens, not everyone can schedule it.

JS:  Well, that was me.  After a show I used to have a drink of scotch and write a song.

TC:  That’s when the ideas flow, right?

JS:  Right, but I had this idea and Bobby and Erin kept encouraging me and saying, “You don’t need to be intimidated around us.”  So, I got this idea and I called them and they liked the idea, so I said, “Okay, let’s set that appointment,” and it was six weeks out.  So, I knew if my brain just numbs, at least I had an idea, but it all fell together so quickly, and it was such a great experience. I want to try and do some more.

Photo of Erin Enderlin, Jeannie Seely and Rhonda Vincent courtesy of Rhonda Vincent

TC:  That’s exciting.  So, you’re still doing the Opry, because that’s just home for you.

JS:  Yes, that’s home.  That’s a way of life for me.  Unless someone’s coming to town specifically that I need to be there, I never bother them of when I want to be scheduled or whatever, because that’s a tough enough job.  I just always tell Gina (Keltner) and Dan (Rogers), “If you need me, I’m here if I’m not on the road.”

Video courtesy of JeannieSeelyWebsite and YouTube

TC:  They must love you for that.

JS:  Gina said, “I appreciate that.”  It’s like, if I’m home I’d just assume be at the Opry.  If I’m not on the road I’d just assume be at the Opry as anywhere, and I live so close.

TC:  A hop, skip and a jump, right?

JS:  Yeah.  I bought a little cottage down on the bank of the river years ago.

TC:  Yeah, I was there when your nephew, the motocross racer was there.

JS:  That’s right!  When Cole (Seely) was there, I remember!  

TC:  It’s the cutest little place too.

JS:  Did you know Cole just retired?

TC:  He did?

JS:  Yes!

TC:  It must be nice to retire that young, wow.  So, what’s he gonna do now?

JS:  I don’t know.  He just said he wanted some time to party with his friends before he gets too old and they do.  Of course, that regimen and training to do what they do, and for anyone that’s just joining us, Cole Seely raced for Honda in Supercross and it’s such a life!  

TC:  I remember him saying it’s really rigorous.  Who would ever guess, but he said it’s like being in the Army.

JS:  Yeah, it’s one of the toughest sports there is and they have to really be in shape, but anyway he said he got hurt really bad two years ago and he said last year was gonna be his last year but he didn’t tell anybody.  He didn’t want to go through that, but he’s just taking some time to hang with the guys.  I’d like to see him become a commentator.

TC:  Oh, he’d be great at that.

JS:  Sure.

TC:  The people that have lived it are usually the best at talking about it, right?

JS:  Right, and he’s used to the camera now, I was so proud of how well he handled that.

TC:  He’s a good looking guy, so he’d be camera-friendly.

JS:  Oh, yeah.  I’m anxious to see what he comes up with.  That was an exciting thing when he was here and raced at Nissan.  They asked me to sing the National Anthem and I got the Exile boys to do it with me.  It was thrilling.

Soundcheck with Exile courtesy of Jeannie Seely

TC:  So much fun.  It’s always so nice to see you.  You’re such a pleasant person.

JS:  Thank you, I’m just enjoying life.  I know how blessed I am to have pretty good health and this longevity in this career I thought would be over so long ago.  It’s just like when they called me and asked about doing a show for Willie’s Roadhouse (Sirius/XM Radio). I was like, “Whoa!  Where did that come from?”

Image courtesy of Sirius/XM and Jeannie Seely

TC:  That’s fantastic too.

JS:  I’m so proud to be a part of Willie’s Roadhouse.

TC:  It’s a good show you do.  You do a good job.

JS:  And you’ve listened?  

TC:  Yes, I’ve listened.  You can only listen to the same thing so much, so with Sirius/XM you jump around a little bit.  Willie’s Roadhouse is a great station.

JS:  It’s been funny, we talk about a little bit of everything, and this lady wrote to me and she said, “I love all the guys too, but I can Google and find out what they tell me.  I like what you tell me. I want to know what’s going on in your life and your house and all that.” I’ve gotten a lot of laughs out of it. Back in the fall I said, “Well, I’ve started my Halloween decorating.  I don’t have much done except for my pumpkin wearing a thong.” That got a lot of comments.

TC:  (Laughing) That’s great.

JS:  Oh, yeah and we were talking about cooking, and my little engineer Matt was trying to sell me on the Instapot and I said, “No, I’m the Crockpot.  Put it in there and go and then you come home and it’s done.” He said, “Yeah, but this only takes 40 minutes,” and I said, “Yeah, but then you only have 40 minutes that it’s in there and you have to wait.”  So, we started asking everybody, “ Let us know if you like Matt’s Instapot or if you like my Crockpot.”

Photo courtesy of Instapot, Crockpot, amazon.com and Patti McClintic

TC:  I like the Crockpot too because you can get other things done while it’s cooking.  You can actually leave while it’s doing its thing.

JS:  Exactly.  Some lady came up to me in the grocery store and she said, “I don’t want to bother you, but I just wanted you to know I’m a Crockpot person.”

TC:  See? So, you knew that she was listening because she knew about your debate that was going on.

JS:  Yeah, it’s just so fun.  I’m really enjoying this show, and I can fire a shot at Charlie Monk every now and then.

Photo courtesy of Sirius/XM Willie’s Roadhouse and Jeannie Seely

TC:  And your sense of humor is so good.

JS:  I’m looking forward to Brenda Lee and I will be hosting the SOURCE Awards again here in Nashville.  That’s an organization that honors the women behind the scenes in the business, so it’s a wonderful thing.  I think this is 14 or 15 years now. Spending the time with Brenda, we just get a little crazy up there.

Photo courtesy of Jeannie Seely

TC:  You know, I’ve seen her host a couple things in recent times and saw her when she presented an award for the late producer Owen Bradley (Brenda Lee’s longtime producer) at the Musicians Hall of Fame Induction .  At that particular event she was all broken up, which is understandable, but any other time, her sense of humor hasn’t gone anywhere. She’s still funny. She’s my dad’s favorite. Her voice was always so powerful and unique, and she’s so small!  

JS:  She is, and she’s so fun.  She keeps saying, “I’m retired,” and I’m like, “Yeah, right.”  I’ve always loved her answers. Somebody said, “When are you gonna retire or quit the business?”  She said, “I’ll never quit the business, but one day, the business will quit me. When it does, I’ll be done.”  

TC:  That’s a great quote.

JS:  It’s true, you know, there will come a time when the phone won’t ring.  While it’s ringing, I just try my best to say “yes”. Years ago there came a time when Jack and I split the show and Hank and I got a divorce and everything was comin’ down, and it seemed like everybody went with the guys, of course, the good ole buddy system, and I couldn’t get anything.  I remember saying a prayer, “Lord, if you’ll ever let anybody ask me to do anything again, I will always say ‘yes’ and never say ‘no’.”  

TC:  You stuck to that.

JS:  Yeah.  I’ve tried to keep that promise.

TC:  You’re doing a good job.

JS:  Well, if I can possibly do it, I’ll do it.  We’re doing the Dottie West Birthday Bash again in October.  Last year when we honored Bill Anderson, in one night we raised almost $29,000.00 for the Musicians Emergency Fund.  This year we’re honoring Charlie McCoy. It’s gonna be a great night.

TC:  It will be a great night.  

JS:  Thank you for giving me more than a minute to talk.

TC:  Thank you!  I’d give you hours and hours if I could.

Pretty easy for me to say that Jeannie Seely is a busy woman.  She has a new album coming out June 5th. You can hear her radio show on Sirius/XM Willie’s Roadhouse Channel 59, and of course, she’s a Grand Ole Opry regular.  If you’re in town and planning a visit to the Opry, be sure to check the schedule regularly to see if Jeannie will be there the day you’re going. You may even catch her on the road.  Keep up with her on her website and social media pages for up-to-date tour information.  

Photo courtesy of 90 East Photography/Think Country

Photo courtesy of 90 East Photography/Think Country

Jeannie Seely Website: http://www.jeannieseely.com/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JeannieSeelyArtistPage/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/seelyofficial/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/seelyofficial

Willie’s Roadhouse on Sirius/XM Website:  https://www.siriusxm.com/williesroadhouse

Grand Ole Opry Website: https://www.opry.com/

*Featured image courtesy of 90 East Photography/Think Country

 

 

  

 

 

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Patti McClintic
I’m Patti. Rock music is my first love. My daughter, who was a country fan as a teenager, dragged me in when I'd drive her to school and we would have radio wars in the car. I'd have on my rock station and she would switch it to the country station. Guess who always won? As they say, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, so I did. patti@thinkcountrymusic.com First it was all modern country, but my parents were big Merle Haggard fans. I went along with them to a Merle Haggard/Phil Vassar show at the local fair and that was it. I was hooked on the Hag. Since that day, I've become a fan of bluegrass and I continue to explore all facets of the country genre. I guess you could say, I'm all in. When I'm not up to my neck in any kind of music, I enjoy genealogy, history, my granddaughters and my addiction, SongPop. I guess it could be worse, right? I'm a Buffalo, New York girl living in a Nashville, Tennessee world, and I'm livin' the dream with my husband, my dog and my two cats.
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