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For Allison Moorer, number two is the hardest part

By Jon Johnson, September 2002

Page 2...

Musical eclecticism is at least one trait the sisters share in common.

For her part, Moorer went to college, earning a bachelor's degree in public relations and sang backing vocals for her sister before striking out on her own. By that time, Moorer had been writing and singing her own material for several years already.

"I started writing songs when I started playing guitar, which was when I was about 21. I always wanted to learn guitar. I grew up playing piano as a kid, and I never learned how to play guitar because no one ever taught me."

Early in her solo career, Moorer nearly achieved the singer/songwriter's equivalent of a grand slam in her first time at bat, earning an Academy Award nomination for "A Soft Place to Fall."

Co-written with Gwil Owen, the number appeared in Robert Redford's "The Horse Whisperer," which also featured Moorer performing the song onscreen. Although Moorer lost the award that year, her performance on the Oscars gave her valuable face time in front of an international audience of millions.

In spite of her appearance in "The Horse Whisperer" and her all-American good looks, Moorer appears to be somewhat ambivalent about future film appearances, although she doesn't rule it out entirely.

"Well, I just did a guest part on (Showtime's) 'The Chris Isaak Show," but that's really it as far as acting (lately. I got that) through my agent, William Morris. (Chris) and his band are great. Most musicians who go on that show play themselves, but I had an actual part. I played a girl that lives on a farm. It was my first acting job, and I wasn't too embarrassed by it, so I think it turned out pretty well. I think that's all you can hope for."

"If something else comes along that's good for me to do, then I would investigate it, but acting is not something that I'm actively looking at. As far as having songs in movies, that's really just luck."

Although neither of Moorer's previous albums have sold in large numbers in the U.S., "The Hardest Part" ended up doing particularly well in Great Britain. Chalk part of that up to the non-commercial nature of a good deal of the British radio industry (much of which is government-owned, and less driven by a corporate bottom line than in the U.S.), but Moorer also credits a lot of road work.

"It might be because I have invested in going over there and playing. I've been there six times, and I've always wanted to develop my career over there parallel to my career here because there's a real audience for real music there, and I don't want to leave that not taken care of."

When it comes to getting airplay in the U.S., Moorer is fairly philosophical, although she does say that the failure of "The Hardest Part" on American radio is simply "because no one gave it a chance."

"I don't spend my time thinking about it. If I did, I'd go crazy. It's not my job as an artist to make records solely to be played on the radio. And I don't mean that in a vain way. First of all, nobody knows what a hit is. A hit is mostly luck and money. Other than that, I don't know."

As for the future, Moorer's immediate plans are to tour heavily to support the new album. Beyond that, Moorer is perhaps characteristically disinclined to say much more.

"There's a lot of things that I'm getting to do that I want to do."

So what else does Allison Moorer want to do?

Laughing playfully, she responds,"Well, I'm not going to tell you, because then it wouldn't be a surprise, now would it?"

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