Alecia was nominated for Emerging Artist of the Year in 2004 by the International Bluegrass Musicians Association, but that doesn’t mean she appeared out of thin air. She has been delighting audiences with her singing onstage since she was a child, and she has always been immersed in her musical heritage.
Jimmy Nugent started the Southland Bluegrass Band in Hickory Grove, Louisiana, in 1972. That was the year his daughter Alecia was born. In order to support his family, Jimmy performed only as a hobby, but after a full 40-hour work-week, the whole family traveled to Bluegrass festivals in nearby Mississippi and Arkansas to perform and enjoy the other bands.
Dad would regularly sit down Alecia and her two older brothers with their mom Carolyn at the piano to sing Southern Gospel songs and teach them Bluegrass harmonies. Both of Alecia’s grandfathers also sang and were song directors in their respective churches. Alecia grew up surrounded by music, as are her three daughters. Her girls are still too bashful to appear onstage, but Alecia hopes to have her own family band in the future.
As Alecia and her brothers and cousins were growing up, they would sometimes be invited to sing in Jimmy’s band. Alecia says, “the first time I heard that applause, I was hooked.” With her singing talent burgeoning and the desire to perform blossoming, Alecia began to take a larger role in the band. She became the Southland Band’s lead singer in her late teens.
Alecia also loved Country music and as she was growing up, she was drawn to recordings by artists such as Conway Twitty, Merle Haggard, George Jones and especially Reba McEntire. The influence of these classic Country singers is felt strongly in Alecia’s style and choice of material. Considered by many as a Bluegrass artist, Alecia prefers simply to call her music “Acoustic Country” to honor its roots.
Family obligations kept Alecia close to home other than her short forays to nearby festivals, but that doesn’t mean her strikingly beautiful voice went unnoticed. By the end of the 1990s, Bluegrass promoter Johnny Stringer offered to finance a solo album for Alecia. Johnny encouraged her to choose her own producer, and she wisely chose renown Bluegrass instrumentalist, songwriter and Mississippi native, Carl Jackson. He was delighted to help Alecia realize her dream of an album in 2000.
Initially an independent release titled For Love’s Sake, Alecia’s recording of poignant Country-style, Bluegrass songs came to the attention of Rounder Records, which re-released it to extensive critical acclaim in 2004. Alecia is now picking songs for a new album, which she hopes will be ready this spring. She plans to add more contemporary songs to the project while continuing to honor the Country traditions she loves. Carl Jackson will likely be producing this recording, as Alecia hopes their successful collaboration will continue for years to come.
In the past year, Alecia was thrilled to have been selected to open for two of her musical heroes, Merle Haggard and Ralph Stanley. She has also appeared numerous times on the Grand Ole Opry.
Alecia will be touring this year. Visit www.alecianugent.com for her concert schedule.
Bill Groll calls Austin, Texas, home. Visit www.CountryRootsMusic.com to learn more about his taste in music.