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Nashville Songwriters Matraca Berg


has won accolades for You And Tequila, a co-write with Deana Carter that was a chart-topping duet for Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter last year. The first song she wrote when she was 18 went to number one in 1983 and there have been plenty more hits since then—a few being We Danced Anyway for Deana Carter, Everybody Knows for Trisha Yearwood, The Last One To Know for Reba McEntire, Give Me Some Wheels for Suzy Bogguss, You Can Feel Bad for Patty Loveles, Wild Angels and Cry On The Shoulder for Martina McBride, and I Don’t Feel Like Loving You Today for Gretchen Wilson. But Matraca, who will be touring the UK in November in


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support of her latest album, LOVE’S TRUCK STOP, doesn’t write songs in the hope of scoring hits. She writes them because she feels them, and has been somewhat amazed that some of her most deeply felt and personal songs have become major hits and touched listeners so deeply. It is her ability to get inside the emotions and the people that she writes about that marks Matraca as a writer and singer of the highest quality. Her songs speak directly to the lives of women and she sings with a passion and sensuality. “Well, I happen to be a woman,” Matraca smiles demurely. “I


don’t want my friends to be mis-treated. I know about women’s experiences, I know someone who was abused, I’ve experienced lots … divorce, re-marriage, and trying to retain a relationship.” As a songwriter nonpareil, Matraca Berg has blazed a trail


through Nashville. She has penned songs for Patty Loveless, Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire, Sara Evans, Linda Ronstadt, Pam Tillis, Gretchen Wilson, Dixie Chicks, Suzy Bogguss and numerous others. She cites Loretta Lynn, Bobbie Gentry, Dolly Parton, Carole King as early influences. Matraca was born on February 3, 1964 in Nashville,


Tennessee. Her mother, Icee Callaway Kirby, was a member of the Callaway Sisters, a quartet that performed on country shows


ashville born and bred Matraca Berg is highly respected as one of country music’s top songwriters. She took CMA’s song of the year award in 1997 for Deana Carter’s hit Strawberry Wine, and more recently


in Kentucky throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Icee moved to Nashville in 1964, an expectant single mother. She soon became an in-demand backup singer, and young Matraca grew up surrounded by music. Matraca’s step-father, Dave Kirby, was a well-respected Nashville session guitarist and songwriter and she has several other relatives still active in the music business. During her early teens Matraca would hang around the Music Row publishing houses and got to sit down at writing sessions with the legendary Bobby Braddock. The result was Faking Love, a 1982 country chart-topping duet for T.G. Sheppard and Karen Brooks. Enamoured by that success she dropped out of high school and relocated to Louisiana, where she became the keyboard player for the Kevin Stewart Band, a regional rock outfit. “My aunts were child stars and created a show, they did


marry and two of them split and became the Callaway Sisters. They went to Nashville and my mother became in high demand singing on sessions. As I grew up they took me to the studio, there was a little recording studio where I used to look through the glass at the giant performing studio. It was pretty awesome and I used to sit on the couch and watch what was going on and just watch my whole life. There wasn’t any doubt in my mind that was what I wanted to do and at high school people kind of thought who do I think I am? And by the time I was 17 I knew that there was nothing else that I wanted to do, at 16 I just couldn’t stop writing.” In 1985 her mother died and Matraca moved back to


Nashville raising her younger brother and sister and keeping the family together. At the same time Matraca’s own marriage broke up. She started working within the Nashville musical community and joined Neil Young in the studio during the OLD WAYS sessions and sang backup on his ensuing tour. It was at this time that she also started concentrating on her songwriting talents. Tanya Tucker made Girls Like Me the title song of her album in 1986, and she was nominated for a Grammy for The Last One To Know, which she wrote for Reba McEntire. Soon other acts including Highway 101, the Forester Sisters and Tom


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