Tanya Tucker with Crystal Gayle
7 p.m. Thursday
First Council Casino
12875 N. Highway 77, Newkirk
7 p.m. Friday
Lucky Star Casino
7777 N. Highway 81, Concho
It was early 1972 when 13-year-old Tanya Tucker headed for Nashville to cut her very first record. By spring, “Delta Dawn” was a hit on every radio station in America.
“I was in Las Vegas when I heard ‘Delta Dawn’ and myself on the radio for the first time,” Tucker said. “It was the beginning of many more surreal feelings to come in life. I knew things were about to change.”
And change they did. Signed to a lucrative record contract, she was a fixture on country radio throughout the 1970s. Songs like “San Antonio Stroll” and “It’s a Cowboy Lovin’ Night” kept her at the top of the charts.
A much-publicized bout with alcohol and drugs sidelined her for a while, but in the mid-1980s, Tucker came back strong with another string of No. 1 hits, securing her status as a music legend.
Today, she’s still hard at work, returning to the Sooner state for shows at First Council Casino and Lucky Star Casino.
“I love Oklahoma,” Tucker said. “My father was from Oklahoma and we spent some time there in my early years when Daddy could get some work. So I’ve always loved you guys. ...You hold a very special place in my heart.”As she enters her 40th year in show business, Tucker is prepping a new disc and planning a major comeback.
“It’s been a long haul putting this album together, but I have felt so strongly about it over the last five years or so, and I haven’t been able to give up on it,” she said. “I think y’all are going to know why when you hear some of these songs. I’m dreaming for it to compete and hold its rank where it deserves to be, wherever that may be. My goal is to also hit every city I can, because this album may just be my best to date.”
Tucker grew up listening to the greats of country music, artists like Patsy Cline, Eddy Arnold and Tammy Wynette.
“My parents got me my very first phonograph player when I was about 9, which I still have to this day. I was and am still very diverse when it comes to my listening selections. And of course, I still have every record I played when I was growing up,” she said.
It’s been a roller-coaster career for the singer, now 53. Billboard charts aside, she has authored two best-selling books, performed at the Super Bowl, and starred in her own reality TV show, Tuckerville.
Like so many of her generation, Tucker recently faced the loss of a parent. As a result, one of her biggest hits has become one of the hardest for her to perform.
“There are some nights I have to skip ‘Two Sparrows in a Hurricane,’” she said. “Daddy passed away and my mother is 85 now. So it’s been a very difficult song to do. Then there are some shows it actually helps me through the night, knowing Daddy is listening and I’m also sending all that live audience energy back home to Mother. It really is a great feeling.”