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Susan Gibson's Songs Take A Tour Of 'The Hard Stuff'

Susan Gibson
courtesy of Susan Gibson
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After penning "Wide Open Spaces," a song that blew the doors off country music for The Dixie Chicks, former Montanan (and faithful annual visitor) Susan Gibson hit the open road with a van full of happy dogs and a heart full of songs to share. But the trip hasn’t only traversed la-la land. Gibson's latest album, The Hard Stuff, takes an uplifting look at the stuff that hurts.
"I would have to say that in the last decade, my career became smaller in my list of priorities," she explains. "It was just a real hell of a time for my family. I lost both of my parents, and dealing with that took up a lot of headspace and really shifted my focus on everything in my life."

Comparing The Hard Stuff to the songs on Remember Who You Are, the EP Gibson made not long after her mother's death in 2013: "The difference with this batch of songs is, they're not scabs anymore — they're starting to become scars: scars that you can talk about and tell stories about, and even find humor in." Or, as she puts it best in the title track: "Nothing lifts a heavy heart like some elbow grease and a funny bone."

Host John Floridis points out that this is Musician's Spotlight's first interview conducted from an Applebee’s parking lot, where Susan Gibson pulled off her East Texas tour route, opened her laptop, and chatted with John by phone, chihuahua Shanghai poised on the armrest.

(Broadcast: Musician's Spotlight,  11/12/19. Listen on the radio Tuesdays, 7 p.m., or via podcast.)

John Floridis, the host and producer of Musician's Spotlight, has been with Montana Public Radio since 1997. He has interviewed over 200 musicians during that time. He is also an independent recording and performing artist in his own right and a former registered music therapist.
Beth Anne Austein has been spinning tunes on the air (The Folk Show, Dancing With Tradition, Freeforms), as well as recording, editing and mixing audio for Montana Public Radio and Montana PBS, since the Clinton Administration. She’s jockeyed faders or "fixed it in post” for The Plant Detective; Listeners Bookstall; Fieldnotes; Musicians Spotlight; The Write Question; Storycorps; Selected Shorts; Bill Raoul’s music series; orchestral and chamber concerts; lecture series; news interviews; and outside producers’ programs about topics ranging from philosophy to ticks.
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