One thing that country singer Suzy Bogguss noticed when she toured with Garrison Keillor of “A Prairie Home Companion” fame in 2008 was that younger members of the audience didn’t know the lyrics to some of America’s most famous tunes.
“People 30 or younger didn’t know the folk songs,” says Bogguss, who, as a result, thought about doing an album of some of the classics like “Shady Grove,” “Shenandoah” and “Red River Valley.”
“I talked to Garrison, and he said, ‘You should go do that,’” says Bogguss, who will be performing some of those songs, along with new songs from her next album and some of her country hits during a Saturday, Nov. 10, concert at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown.
“It’s an eclectic show with a little bit of a lot of things,” says Bogguss, who says the acoustic trio makes “a mighty sound” — a mix of folk, country, blues and even some cowgirl yodeling.
“It’s a really good show to bring the family to — older people and kids, too,” she says. “The music is lively, and it’s positive and fun.”
Although Bogguss, who plays the guitar, previously has appeared in Frederick, she has never performed at BlackRock. She says she’s looking forward to performing with the other two members of the trio, Pat Bergeson on guitar and harmonica and Charlie Chadwick on upright bass and cello.
Born in Aledo, a small town in Illinois, Bogguss first began singing in her church choir as a child. She grew up with music in the house, her father favoring country music, while her mother liked big bands and her brothers and sister listened to the hits of the 1960s, according to her website.
It was in fifth grade that she first learned some of the country’s most famous folk songs, song such as “Shenandoah,” “Wayfaring Stranger” and “Red River Valley.”
“Sometimes we learned where the song came from, and I’d imagine far-off places,” she says. “In [‘Erie Canal’], we learned about how they build the canal, in [‘Git Along Little Dogies,’] we’d learn about the West, and with [‘Sweet Betsy from Pike’] we learned about the Gold Rush.
“Tying the history of the United States to the songs made learning fun, and I’d daydream about fantastic places to go,” says Bogguss, who currently lives in Nashville.
She attended Illinois State University, earning extra money by singing in clubs and coffeehouses and later touring in a van for five years before arriving in Nashville.
In 1986 she made a tape to be played at Dolly Parton’s Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., that caught the attention of Capitol Records, which signed her to a recording contract.
Bogguss would go on to win Grammy awards and other recognition in the 1990s for hits such as “Aces,” “Drive South,” “Someday Soon,” “Outbound Plane” and “Letting Go.”
In the summer of 2008, while touring with Keillor, she got the idea for a folk album and in July 2011, released the “American Folk Songbook.”
The CD features new arrangements for 17 old songs, including classics such as “Beautiful Dreamer,” “Shady Grove,” “Banks of the Ohio,” “Rock Island Line” and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot.”
Playing with her on the album are Bergeson and Chadwick, along with other musicians that include Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan and Jeff Taylor.
A companion 96-page, hardcover book includes illustrations and sheet music for piano, voice and guitar, along with anecdotes about the songs that Bogguss also incorporates into her show.
“I try to pick out information that is a little more surprising,” she says.