LIFE IN FULL BLOOM

Lorrie Morgan's new DVD - and her marriage - are oh-so-rosey

Story by Wendy Newcomer • Photo by Chuck Jones

Everything's coming up roses for Lorrie Morgan. She's got a new marriage to fellow singer Sammy Kershaw, a new single, "The Color Of Roses," and now a new DVD of the same name that's due in stores March 12.

"I've always wanted to record a live concert but I didn't want it to feel like it was staged," declares Lorrie, sitting in a booth at her HotChickens.com restaurant near Nashville. So Lorrie - who says she works best under pressure - decided to put herself to the test.

"I told my band, 'We're not doing anything over. We're taping it as is.' I never even went to a rehearsal," she admits. But she wasn't shirking her responsibilities - she simply didn't know if she'd be able to sing the night of the taping.

"I had been on total voice rest for three weeks," explains Lorrie, who'd suffered a hemorrhage on her vocal cords. "I had to cancel five shows last year because of my throat. It was pretty scary. But the DVD had already been scheduled so we thought with voice rest it would be OK for the shoot.

"I was scared to death I wasn't going to be able to pull it off," she reveals. "I thought, 'What happens if I walk out here and nothing comes out, and they've spent all this money putting the show together?' Fan club people had even come from out of town to be there."

But Lorrie's voice was in fine form and the show went off without a hitch. "My band really showed their true colors that night," she notes. "They were dead-on. They looked good and sounded good."

During the DVD taping, Lorrie thrilled the audience with hits including "I Didn't Know My Own Strength" and her signature song, "Something In Red." But she also performed classic songs such as "My Favorite Things" and "Fly Me To The Moon," backed by Nashville's Belmont University School of Music Orchestra. She even put her stamp on a country classic, Jeannie C. Riley's 1968 hit "Harper Valley P.T.A.," a song about small-town gossip.

"I really love that song," confesses Lorrie with a smile. "I wish I had had the opportunity to record it because it is so true about my life. I wish I could have re-written it and changed the names of places and people.

"I've been doing it in my shows," she adds. "I introduce it by saying, 'Most of y'all probably realize that most of my adult life has been in the tabloids.' And of course they all start laughing. Then I say, 'Well here's a song I used to hear when I was a little girl that didn't mean too much to me at all until I got older. Now it has taken on a whole new meaning.'"

Lorrie and Sammy have, in fact, been the subject of tabloid gossip. But the tough-yet-tender singer - who describes life as a newlywed as "awesome" - is determined to have the last laugh. "Sammy and I have had a few really good fights that we've gotten through," she states. "But he is my best friend. And best friends fight, they cry and get 'poopy' with each other.

"So many people have said, 'You've been married four times and divorced three times. What do you know about marriage and how do you know this is different than the others?' Well, it's just something a woman feels. We just click. It felt right.

"And he's tough," adds Lorrie. "He is as strong-willed as I am. It's a good challenge. I've never really had anybody stand up to me. That's quite different. And he's never had anybody stand up to him. So it's teaching us the softer side of life."

Since leaving longtime record label BNA in 2000, Lorrie has discovered a newfound freedom in her artistic life. And she's currently in discussions with another label. But singing isn't the only thing on Lorrie's agenda.

"I want to do all kinds of things," she says, eyes lighting up. "I'm only going to do about 60 dates next year. The rest of the time I want to dedicate to other dreams of mine. I'm a painter. I have about eight more oil paintings to get done before I have my first art show.

"I would like to direct a DVD for Sammy," she continues. "And I want to direct his next video. Being an artist, I think it would be great for me to direct another artist because I know the importance of letting an artist shine. I also want to be a makeup artist. I'd like to do makeup for other entertainers' videos."

Lorrie recalls a story from her childhood, when her father, Opry star George Morgan, attempted to get his family's attention at the dinner table. "We were all sitting around the table talking and yelling," she remembers. "Dad was a very calm gentleman. Finally he just put his fist down on the table and said, 'Hey!' - we all stopped - and he said, 'My age demands respect.' And I have lived by that.

"I feel I have reached the point in my life where my age demands respect," declares the 42-year-old. "I've learned, I've paid my dues, I've listened, I've watched. I know what I can do. There are things I want to do and there's no reason why I can't. Not just me but anybody. If you do it with a good heart and a good attitude and for the right reasons, you can do anything."

Gold and platinum plaques adorning the walls of Lorrie's successful restaurant are proof she's done a lot. "I've lived a dream in the music industry," she confesses, gratitude lacing her words. "Everything I've ever wanted and more has happened to me musically. The business is changing. I'm changing too. So, however it goes is fine with me. I can find my niche.

"I know I have the potential to be what I want to be."

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