When asked about her “Grits and Glamour” tour coming to Chandler Saturday night, country sensation Pam Tillis was sure to emphasize its relaxed, laid-back atmosphere.
“It’s a musical dialogue,” Tillis said of the interaction between her and her tour mate, Lorrie Morgan. “She’ll sing a song, I’ll sing a song, and the songs play off each other. It is very much like the audience is a fly on the wall and they are watching old friends do what they love to do: sing, make music, and have a good time.”
Despite being the daughter of country legend Mel Tillis, she assures that she had a normal upbringing. One of her fondest memories, though, is when she got the chance to perform alongside her father at the famous Grand Ole Opry at the early age of 8. Since then, Tillis has gone on to win two Grammy Awards, sell over 7 million albums, and was even inducted into the Grand Ole Opry herself in 2000.
Tillis recalls a long list of inspirations, which include the likes of Dolly Parton, Roger Miller, and of course, her very own father. In 2002, she made a tribute album to him, titled “It’s All Relative,” where she performs a collection of his most beloved songs.
“It was a labor of love,” Tillis said. “I wanted to remind people what a great songwriter my dad was. They kind of know him as this funny guy, but I think people forget that he is just an awesome writer.”
The record is just one of 10 albums that Tillis has recorded in her celebrated career that spans nearly 30 years. She takes pride in being one of the first women to produce her own album in Nashville, and forged a path that has influenced many musicians to this day.
“In terms of being an artist, I think it is a great time for being a woman,” Tillis said. “(The industry) has changed so much since my dad came out. Look at Taylor Swift, she is not having any trouble being a woman!”
Tillis is currently hard at work on multiple recording projects, including an album with two fellow female artists that make up the Pam Tillis Trio, along with a rework of her “Greatest Hits” album featuring a modern sound.
“I am not going to say it has been remastered, it has been re-everything,” Tillis laughed. “It sounds really great.”
When she is not recording music or touring the nation, Tillis keeps herself occupied with a variety of projects — tending her personal garden at home, taking care of her new puppy, and launching an all-natural skin care line called “Pam Tillis’ Wildflower Honee.”
“I like to dabble,” Tillis said. “I believe in healthy living and I think some of these things I have been doing are kind of an extension of that. Food, skin care, and positive music, you know.”
Despite all of her ambitious undertakings, Tillis cherishes time spent with family and understands when she needs to take a breather.
“I am very aware that you cannot be ‘all-go-all-the-time,’ and that you need to find your quiet moment,” she said. “If you do not do that, the music and everything suffers.
“I think I am becoming the queen of the 10-minute vacation,” Tillis jested, as she geared up for a quick workout before a long day of traveling.
Whether she is on the road or in the studio; cooking in her kitchen or concocting natural remedies, fans can always expect something fresh and invigorating from the one-and-only Pam Tillis.
• Patrick Ryan is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. He is a sophomore at Arizona State University.