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Music – 1980 – Austin City Limits – Gail Davies


Gail Davies is an American singer/songwriter and the first female record producer in country music….as se is the daughter of country singer Tex Dickerson and the sister of songwriter Ron Davies….who established herself as a successful singer and songwriter during the 1970’s and 1980’s by scoring numerous Top 10 and Top 20 Billboard hits.  She was one of country music’s most influential artists….as she  became the genre’s first female record producer….for she has been cited as a role model for other female singers, including Suzy Bogguss, Kathy Mattea, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Pam Tillis…..and her son, Chris Scruggs, is a former co-lead singer and guitarist for the roots-country band BR549.

Her landmark album The Game was even more successful than her previous record had been. It featured a Top 10 single entitled “Blue Heartache”….as well as two Top 20 hits in “Like Strangers” and “Good Lovin’ Man”. Gail went on to produce I’ll Be There in 1980….which spawned three more hit singles. The title track went to # 4 on the Billboard charts followed by “It’s a Lovely, Lovely World”….with harmony vocals by Emmylou Harris….and Gail’s own composition, a tribute to her maternal grandmother entitled “Grandma’s Song”….as performed on this ACL special….and a true favorite of mine….cuz it reminds me of Granny Jean, Bone Daddy mother….a lady who never met a stranger…..who greeted all with a smile and love in her heart.  As a matter of fact….I always see a tear in Bone Daddy’s eyes when I play Grandma’s Song.  Gail Davies was nominated for a CMA and ACMA Award in 1981….and voted Country music’s “Best New Female Vocalist” by The DJs of America.    

The year 1982 showed that Gail Davies was not slowing down…. as she released her 3rd self-produced album Giving Herself Away. This record brought a new female perspective to Country Music with another Top 10 hit….which was written by Rory Bourke and K.T. Oslin, entitled “Round the Clock Lovin’ “.  Gail’s career took a short hiatus in the winter of 1982, when she gave birth to her only child, Christopher Scruggs, who is also the son of songwriter Gary Scruggs and the grandson of bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs.

Warner Bros. released Gail’s last album for the label What Can I Say in 1983. Although there were some sizable hits from this record, including two Top 20 singles “You’re a Hard Dog (To Keep Under the Porch)”….and a self-penned song entitled “Boys like You”….as Gail’s chart success was beginning to wane. The last single from this album, a duet with Ricky Skaggs written by Gail’s brother, Ron Davies, was entitled “It’s You Alone”….which was released just as Gail was preparing to leave Warner Bros. Records. With no support from the label it stalled at # 55 on the Billboard charts….when Gail signed with RCA Records in 1984 and released Where Is a Woman to Go….which was produced by Gail and James Taylor’s bass player, Leland Sklar….as this album featured two more hit singles in “Breakaway”….which went to # 15 on the charts…. along with “Jagged Edge of a Broken Heart”….which climbed to # 20….when the last single from this album….a duet with Dolly Parton entitled “Unwed Fathers” was said to be too controversial for country radio.  Written by John Prine and Bobby Braddock, this song barely made it into the Billboard Top 50.  Inspired by a trip to England in 1985, Gail formed a country/rock band called Wild Choir….as they released one self-titled album on RCA Records with three Billboard singles  “Heart To Heart, “Safe In The Arms of Love” and “Next Time,” written by Gail, Pam Rose and Mary Ann Kennedy. Although Wild Choir only released one album during their tenure, they have been cited as one of the incunabula of the “alt-country” genre, better known as Americana Music.  In 1989, Gail signed with MCA Records and produced an album of 10 self-penned compositions entitled Pretty Words….as the album garnered two more Top 50 singles in “Waiting Here For You” and “Hearts in the Wind”….while the song the record company chose not to release, written by Gail and Harry Stinson, was entitled “Tell Me Why”…..went on to become a hit for Curb recording artist Jann Browne.  

Undaunted by the lack of label support, Gail continued to produce great music….as she moved to Capitol Records in 1989 and released two critically acclaimed albums in The Other Side of Love and The Best Of Gail Davies….then Davies was hired by Capitol/EMI in 1990 to become Nashville’s first female staff producer….where she spent four years working with talented young artists like Mandy Barnett before starting her own record label Little Chickadee Productions….where she produced and released an album in 1995 entitled Eclectic….which was chosen by The New York Times as one of the “Ten Best Country Albums of the Year.” Other LCP releases include Gail Davies Greatest HitsLove Ain’t EasyLive and Unplugged at the Station InnThe Songwriter SessionsSince I Don’t Have You….which featured jazz legend Benny Golson….and Beyond the Realm of Words produced by Gail Davies and Chris Scruggs.  It becomes obvious that Gail Davies was one very talented lady….and we at ImaSportsphile are absolutely delighted to have this performance of hers on Austin City Limits in 1980.

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