With “An Acoustic Evening with Pam Tillis” playing at the McPherson Opera House this Friday, people already know there will be a solid night's country music entertainment to be had.
With "An Acoustic Evening with Pam Tillis" playing at the McPherson Opera House this Friday, people already know there will be a solid night's country music entertainment to be had.
Tillis, the daughter of country music legend Mel Tillis, has a long, successful track record in country music, having started out writing Barbara Fairchild's 1978 release "The Other Side of Morning."
Tillis signed with Arista Nashville in 1989, and her albums "Homeward Looking Angel," "Sweetheart's Dance" and "Greatest Hits" all achieved platinum status.
Tillis is joined in this current acoustic tour by master fiddler Bethany Olds and multi-instrumentalist Mary Sue Englund.
For Englund, 2013 has proven to be a busy year, and not just as a member of Tillis's touring trio as it has seen the release of her book "I Am a Woman."
Inspired by and expanding on the song by the same title she and Thom Shepherd co-wrote, the linen-bound coffee table book presents photographs and quotes from 51 women from history.
The book also features an audio CD with Englund's performance of the song, which also was featured on her latest album "The Beat Goes On."
Englund, who is celebrating her 10th anniversary touring with Tillis, said that, when she and Shepherd initially started writing the song, they didn't know what it would be about.
"I started writing down qualities of women in our lives," Englund said. "I was inspired. Both my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law had been diagnosed with breast cancer. It became a song about being a survivor, and about speaking to women's challenges. When we got standing ovations when we played it, we knew we had something special."
Along with the lyrics of the song, the book features inspiring and thought-provoking photos and quotes from women such as Helen Keller, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Madame Curie, Gloria Steinem, Rosa Parks and Venus Williams, among others.
The page with the lyric "A whisper by the fire" presents Wilma Rudolph's quote, "My doctor told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother." Rudolph had come back from childhood polio to become a two-time Olympic champion. The right hand page presents a vintage photo of Rudolph a fraction of a second before crossing an Olympic finish line.
"I wasn't even going to record the song myself," Englund said, "but I went into the studio and sang a scratch vocal. I sang through it twice, and another artist in the studio started crying. It was one of those magical things."
The song also has seen life as a duet by Tillis and fellow country musician Lorrie Morgan, who have released their version as a single from their album "Dos Divas." Onstage, Englund and Tillis perform the song as a duet at every performance.
While she has been encouraged by the book's success, Englund said she's been surprised by it, too.
"I've been getting a crazy good reception," Englund said. "We've had people buying the book and using the coupon in the back to go online and buy another 10 or 20 at one time to give as gifts."
Englund said the book's success has been gratifying since she and her husband had to finance it themselves after the original publisher was forced to back out of their deal.
"I pulled out my nest egg and ended up having to fund it myself," Englund said. "I found some amazing historical photographs to license, and I wanted it to be a good quality book. There were moments when I was afraid, but my bandmate Bethany said, 'God's calling you to write this book.' So I did."
Englund said after their Friday evening performance, the trio will come out for a meet and greet with the public.
"It's really nice to meet people afterwards and get feedback," Englund said. "A concert can shift your emotions. After 9/11, my husband and I went to see Aerosmith. We had been depressed and scared, but just going to that concert shifted us into a more positive place. It's always good to know that, as performers, we're really making a difference. We're servants. We're here to entertain. It's all part of the gig. We're thrilled to come, and grateful for the people coming out."
The book "I Am a Woman" will be available for purchase at the show for $25 each, and Englund said all autographs and photos will be free.
The book also is available via Englund's website www.iamawomansurvivor.com for $25 with free shipping. When ordered online, the book contains a 20 percent off "Thank you" coupon good for any subsequent orders made on the website.
"An Acoustic Evening with Pam Tillis" will take place at 7:30 p.m. this Friday at the McPherson Opera House. Tickets are available online at www.mcphersonoperahouse.org, by phone by calling (620) 241-1952 or by purchase at the Opera House Box Office.
"An Acoustic Evening with Pam Tillis" is sponsored by The Trust Company of Kansas, Doug and Kathie Unruh and Williams Energy Services.