We often receive notes from from readers about their favorite artists who seem to have dropped off the face of the earth. Of course they are still clinging to the crust of our rapidly moving sphere; they just aren’t so visible in the music industry as perhaps they once were.
One such is Alecia Nugent, who was a prominent touring and recording artist for Rounder Records in the 2000s. She occupied a place between contemporary bluegrass and acoustic country, embracing both styles over the course of three popular recordings for Rounder Records.
Her career was an anomaly of sorts, in that she didn’t play an instrument, and hadn’t had a reputation as a songwriter. It was just her out front singing, with nothing to hold on to but a microphone. Naked, so to speak, in the world of bluegrass.
But ever since she was a young girl, it was something that audiences could readily forgive once they heard her sing. Pure and powerful, Alecia has a wide range and a lovely voice. She brings passion and sincerity to every song she sings, and after the release of her debut album in 2004, the rest of the bluegrass world learned what she had to offer – something that listeners in northern Louisiana had known for some time.
As a young girl, her dad and his cousins performed regionally as Southland Bluegrass Band, and they consumed little Alecia’s imagination right from the start. Growing up with music in her life, accompanying her dad, Jimmy, to band shows, she was eager to sing with them on stage, and was given the opportunity to do so on occasion even before she joined the band as a regular member as an early teen.
Nugent continued singing with the band as she grew up, married, and had children. But it was a strenuous divorce that actually got her into music as more than an avocation. Though she continued to work day jobs after the 2001 split with her husband, she made a move to Nashville not long after and began to catch the attention of folks in the biz. Bluegrass fans and promoters along the Gulf Coast were well aware of Alecia’s talent, but not so much in Music City.
With the financial assistance of one such promoter, a debut, self-titled project was recorded with Carl Jackson at the helm, released in 2004. Critical and radio response was very positive, leading to a second CD, A Little Girl… A Big Four Lane in ’06, again with Jackson producing, and a third, Hillbilly Goddess in ’09 produced by Jerry Salley.
Throughout this period, Alecia worked an aggressive performance schedule and dealt with all the issues of keeping a band together on top of maintaining joint custody of her three girls between homes in Louisiana and Tennessee.
But family called her back to the Pelican State when her father was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. At the time she was working on what would have been a fourth album for Rounder, and she left it unfinished to help care for her dad. In a recent conversation, Alecia said that she had initially planned on finishing and releasing that project, but life got in the way.
“When I moved back here I had no intentions of leaving the music business. I figured I could do it from down here. But it’s not like being in North Carolina or Kentucky. Louisiana is really remote in the bluegrass world.
We lost my dad in July of 2013.
I do hope to be able to get out there and complete this 4th record – but now is not the time. My youngest daughter is about to start her senior year in high school. The oldest is 23, and she has a daughter, so I am now a grandmother. My 19 year old is still at home with me as well.
I do want to return to it at some point, but right now, my life is full with two teenagers at home. That’s too many challenges to head out on the road. I have be mom right now.”
Alecia is working as the Advertising Sales Manager at her hometown newspaper in Alexandria, LA, The Town Talk, and was delighted to hear that several Bluegrass Today readers had written in to ask about her.
“Bluegrass fans have to be the most loyal people on earth. I’m not the kind to post a lot on Facebook, but I still get messages on there from fans saying that they would love to see and hear me again. I always make a point to respond to them.”
Speaking of the possibility of completing that fourth album, Alecia says that she isn’t even sure of her status with Rounder Records.
“I haven’t talked to them in the longest time, so I don’t know if I’m still considered a Rounder artist or not. I’d certainly rather finish this album with them. They have been very good to me.”
So at least for the time being, she is doing her singing at home, something she says her daughters also enjoy, though they profess no interest in singing on stage.
“They all love to sing, but not publicly. I tell them that if they would ever just get up on stage one time, they would love it.”
Let’s all hope that the time is right soon, and we get to hear some new music from Alecia Nugent.