It’s often said you don’t want to meet your heroes, but what happens when one of your heroes calls you and wants to work together?
For Amy Jack, the answer was simple: you jump at the opportunity, which is exactly what she did when approached by Merle Haggard many years ago. The result of the pairing is Jack’s debut album, fittingly titled Introducing Amy Jack, which comes seven years after work began on the album, and showcases a sonically diverse sound that even includes two covers of Haggard tunes.
We chatted with Jack about working with Haggard, having her songs featured during major television events, what she hopes listeners take away from the album and more!
Pro Country: With your debut album Introducing Amy Jack, you were scouted by Merle Haggard’s team to record in Merle’s studio and work closely with Merle himself. What did it mean to you to have Merle’s belief and desire to work with you?
Amy Jack: I was surprised when the phone call came in, but I was elated. For Merle to want to work with me on creating is the ultimate honor.
PC: What was it like for you to work with Merle on the album? What were you able to take away from the experience?
AJ: I was so curious to see what Merle liked and didn’t like in music. One song that I had written, that I initially wanted, he chuckled and told me it was an R&B song.
Merle, as you know, mastered many different genres from pop to country to gospel and so many more. He started in the 50s and evolved his music over the years. He thought my songs and the album were great and it was just the biggest complement.
PC: Though you began working on Introducing Amy Jack in 2013 and continued work with Merle into 2015, his unfortunate passing delayed the album’s release until early this year. After the emotions that came with losing Merle and the wait that ensued with releasing the album, what emotions were you feeling as the time came to release the album?
AJ: After he passed, I just tried to carry on as he would have with the album. At the end of the day, I wanted Merle to be pleased with me and the record.
PC: Merle suggested covering one of his songs on the album, and you chose to record “My Favorite Memory” and “Got Lonely Too Early.” What made you choose each of those songs to include on the album? What was it like to perform them in front of Merle?
AJ: I knew immediately that I wanted to include “My Favorite Memory” on the record. One of the things Merle valued most in an artist and a song was being able to sing it with feeling, and I knew I could do just that with the song. For “Got Lonely Too Early,” I wanted to have an up tempo song on the record, and as soon as I heard it, I knew I didn’t need to look any further. To perform the songs for Merle to hear brought out the best in me.
PC: In the past four years, your songs “For the Love of the Game,” “Shake and Bake” and “Born to Lead” were featured on the 2016 US Olympic Committee’s “Road to Rio” Tour, on Fox Sports and on the soundtrack to the NCAA’s Lombardi Awards, respectively. What has it been like for you over that span to see your music being embraced by the sports industry?
AJ: It’s such an honor to have my music chosen for these programs. A couple weeks ago, my song “Vegas Style” was played during a NASCAR race, and it’s just such a humbling experience. For me, this is as good as it gets.
PC: You’ve previously mentioned that “Got a Life to Catch” is your favorite song on your debut album. What is it about the song that is so special to you?
AJ: I think it’s such a cathartic song. It speaks for so many people who are needing to say they have a purpose in life and they need to get on with their purpose.
PC: “Lay Me Down in Oklahoma” is one of only three songs on the album that you did not have a hand in writing. How did you hear the song and what drew you to record it?
AJ: Roger “Ramsey” Corkill, a Texas radio promoter, sent “Lay Me Down In Oklahoma” to me and recommended that I record the song. Once I heard the song, I completely agreed. It’s such a well written song and is a little ode to the people in my home state of Oklahoma.
PC: What do you hope listeners take away from Introducing Amy Jack after listening all the way through?
AJ: At the end of the day, I hope the songs and words resonate with people. I also hope that people find a little happiness and joy in my music.
PC: 2020 has altered the plans of most artists so far. Of the things you can control, what are your plans for the rest of the year and beyond?
AJ: Right now I’m writing and recording music that I can’t wait to share with everyone!
*Find Amy’s music featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!*