The Life of Pie
I was born in
Jacksonville, Texas as Susan Taylor and spent most of my summers
with grandparents in Longview listening to my mom and her sisters
sing harmony on church hymns.
Singing seemed natural to me, but I was so shy that I could only sing songs to the family while standing behind grandma’s kitchen door.
moved to Oklahoma when I was 4 and at 9, I started guitar lessons
with Dick Gordon in Tulsa, OK. With Dick’s help, by the time I
I was performing at the recitals and concerts he produced. Elvis Presley was my favorite singer to emulate, and one night at the Tulsa IOOF hall as I was singing,
“Love Me”, I stopped to grab the microphone (like I’d seen Elvis do), and a woman in the front row squealed loudly! I’m sure she thought it would thrill me,
but it scared me so badly that Dick had to step in and help me recover so I could finish the song!
By the time I
was 14, I was a regular on the “Sun Up” show which aired each
morning on a local Tulsa television station. The hosts of the show
send me to NYC for music and acting studies, but mom declined. We moved to Corpus Christi, Texas not long after that where I quickly found a
group of local musicians, Paul Butts, Pete Rose, and Gene Bryant, and we banded together to form Corpus’ first folk music society.
I immersed myself in old English/Irish ballads and American folk songs, and when folk became pop, I was in heaven.
Along came Michael Merchant and the two of us
formed a folk group, performing mostly at school and civic
functions. In 1964, when I became a
senior at W.B. Ray High School, Mike headed off of Penn State University, and I began performing solo at the Del Mar College hootenanys,
where I met a couple of singer/pickers named Don Williams and Lofton Kline, and we started a trio called the Pozo-Seco Singers.
Mike came back to Corpus for Christmas break after his first semester in Philadelphia and brought some original songs along. One of them was called,
“Time.” I made him teach me all the chords and the lick and the lyrics. I basically learned it in one afternoon, because I knew it was so special.
In 1965, my
old pickin’ pal Paul Butts took up the position of manager for the
Pozos, and he took us to Gold Star Studio in Houston to cut
Mike’s tune for a local label called Edmark Records. Mike went along and played the upright bass, and it became a regional hit for us. Joe Mansfield,
promotion man for Columbia Records, heard the song and signed us, and in 1966, “Time” charted #1 on Los Angeles, Chicago, and
Boston radio stations, followed by four albums on Columbia. Paul eventually stepped aside allowing Albert Grossman to manage us,
and we toured extensively over the next five years, changing our lineup several times with Ron Shaw replacing Lofton Kline, and for the last couple
of years, Don and I worked as a Pozo-Seco duet with backup musicians like Brad Campbell from the Paupers on bass and Teddy Irwin on guitar.
In 1970, Don
and I retired the Pozos, and I met Allen Reynolds who produced a
solo album with me on JMI Records. While at JMI,
Allen and I co-produced 3 Don Williams chart singles for the label and I got to play mandolin on Bob McDill’s classic release,
“Stories”. McDill and Reynolds also made me a co-writer on “Sugar Cane” because of that mandolin.
same time I opened a craft shop called “The Craft Cranny” and
invited 50 craftsmen from all over the state to help us
create a craft fair in Middle Tennessee. We had about 1,500 people show up at our little shop on Bandywood Drive! There simply
weren’t any craft places in town back in the early 70’s. The shop was sold and the new owners moved to West End Ave changing the name
to the American Artisan. They continued the craft fairs and it is now the largest one in the Nashville area.
Once folk music became less favored by the
Nashville community, I began to grow a bit restless as an artist and
songwriter, and in 1972 moved to
New York City honing my songwriting skills while playing clubs like Folk City, O’Lunney’s and The Bottom Line with my band, The City-Country Band.
Bette Midler came in to Folk City one night to hear me play, “Back in the Bars Again,” and she asked if she use it in her “Clams on the Half Shell”
review. I was so excited!! It’s still one of my highlight moments in NYC. During that period, Tanya Tucker, cut one of my tunes called,
“Round & Round the Bottle” on her “Here’s Some Love” album, along with a Richard Manegra/Pie song called, “Take Me To Heaven.”
In the early
80’s, I moved to the Berkshires in western Massachusetts and began
playing local folk clubs like The Red Lion Inn. I began making
back to Nashville a couple of times a year to write with Allen Reynolds and Dickey Lee. Allen and I wrote, “Full Grown Fool,” which Mickey Gilley,
recorded for Columbia and it climbed to #16 in the country charts. Dickey and Allen and I penned “Peace Within”, and The Forester Sisters,
recorded it. Dickey and I also wrote a gospel tune called, “Just Like Angels”, which was released by The Lewis Family and nominated for the gospel Dove Award.
In 1986, I returned to Tennessee and bought a
“20 acre-more or less” hill side farm about 60 miles southeast of
Nashville. Allen and I
continued our friendship and when he started a publishing company called Forerunner, I was signed as a writer. That’s when I met Herb McCullough
and Debbie Nims and we wrote “Oh, Mandolin,” a song that I’m convinced will someday be a bluegrass classic. Of course, part of my confidence is
because Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike recorded it with such sweet perfection. They even got Tim O’Brien to play mandolin on it!
Most recently, independent artist,
Hendrix, recorded the title cut
from my “Long Ride Home” CD on her “The Art of Hanging Wallpaper”,
Wilory Records release and Herb’s and my, “Walkin’ On The Moon” on her “Celebrate the Difference” children’s CD.
When I’m not singing solo, I often perform
Eben Wood, an
old Ray class of ’65 alumni buddy. We hooked up in Corpus via
I was there representing the Pozos at a fund raiser for Del Mar College in 2005 and we hit it off immediately!
Shortly after that trip to Corpus, Eben
reconnected me with Kathy Harrison, another Ray ’65 graduate.
Something clicked for the three of us and
we began forming the framework for PuffBunny Records. Our first release was “So Little Has Changed” followed by a live album and
video from a Pie/Eben performance at Hondo’s on Main in Fredricksburg, TX. Eben and I are currently working on a jazz project with a spring release date in mind.
This is the
best time of my life! The music feels better than ever and I’m
creating it with incredibly talented friends who share the same
kind of dreams and goals! I thank my lucky stars for all of you who’ve continued to listen over the years and will always be my inspiration.
In music & light, Pie