Jeannie Seely started turning heads at the Grand Ole Opry back in the mid-1960s, when she showed up in a mini-skirt for her Opry debut.
I brought a different look, not something I set out to do. I had moved to Nashville from Los Angeles in the early ‘60s and the mini-skirts had come in out there. I’ve always liked what is in style. So that was part of what raised eyebrows, not only my sound, but my look. They weren’t unkind to me, they just didn’t understand it at first. I guess everybody’s okay with it now!
This year, she’ll be celebrating her 50th anniversary as an Opry member and releasing a brand new album. “Written in Song” will be available starting January 13 and features 14 tracks written or co-written by Seely. Special guests include Connie Smith, Marty Stuart, Jessi Colter, Jan Howard, Kenny and Tess Sears. You can order the album here.
Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs was the motivation for the new project, encouraging Seely to head into the studio and record her own versions of the beloved songs originally recorded by others over the years. A prolific songwriter for decades, Seely has had songs recorded by iconic artists including Merle Haggard, Dottie West, Ernest Tubb, and Ray Price.
One of the reasons I wanted to do it was to honor those who believed in my music way back.
Her music has stood the test of time… and with good reason.
When you talk about real things, that is timeless. We don’t change that much from generation to generation. I think that everybody can identify with these songs still.
Recorded at Hilltop Recording Studio just outside of Nashville, Seely enlisted the help of Opry band members to play on the album. Fellow country stars also appear on the album, including Jessi Colter who joins Seely on the track “We’re Still Hangin’ In There Ain’t We Jessi.”
It was a story about what I was going through with my ex-husband Hank [Cochran] at the time, who was a great writer, but he was very erratic; it was like living on a roller coaster. I’d heard a story about something that happened with Waylon and Jessi at the same time. I realized that all of our other friends had just gotten divorced, Jessi and I were the only two hanging in there trying to live this crazy lifestyle.
Although Jeannie and Hank divorced, she did find love again with Gene Ward. But she found their song first. While she was working a show with Jack Greene, she was getting ready and painting a fresh coat of polish on her nails – a pre-show ritual. And before she knew what was happening, the idea for the melody and lyrics for “My Love for You” came to her so quickly that she dropped everything to write it all down.
I had nail polish all over my knuckles, the table, the tablet… I didn’t know where that song came from or who I wrote it about. But that was the premonition I was going to meet him one day.
Today, she’s loving life and excited for the future.
I’m trying to get back into writing. As changes in my life and career came about, I had to take over more of the business end. I ran out of time for one thing and maybe incentive for a while. But I am so thrilled that so many of young artists and writers asking me to write with them.
And when it comes to the Grand Ole Opry, she’s thankful that the institution has such a rich musical diversity.
I hope they always continue to keep the same mix of the traditional and the new sound, the bluegrass, the semi-gospel. To me, there should be room at the Grand Ole Opry for all of them.
You can catch her performing at the Grand Ole Opry throughout 2017. For more information, head to www.jeannieseely.com.
“Written in Song” Track list:
- Sometimes I Do
- He’s All I Need
- I’m Never Gonna See You
- Anyone Who Knows What Love Is
- You Don’t Need Me
- My Love For You
- Leavin’ And Sayin’ Goodbye
- The Pain Once You’re Gone
- He Always Got What He Wanted
- Life Of A Rodeo Cowboy
- Enough To Lie
- Who Needs You
- We’re Still Hangin’ In There Ain’t We Jessi