Pam Tillis (born Pamela Yvonne Tillis on , 1957 in Plant City, Florida) is an American country music singer-songwriter and actress. She is the daughter of country music legend Mel Tillis.
Originally a demo singer in Nashville, Tennessee, Pam was signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1981, with nine singles and a studio album being released in the 1980s. She later found work as a staff songwriter for Tree Publishing. By 1991, she had signed to Arista Records; that year, she reached Top 5 on the Billboard country charts with "Don't Tell Me What to Do", the first of five singles from her second album, Put Yourself in My Place, which was certified gold by the RIAA.
Between 1991 and the present, Tillis has charted more than thirty singles on the U.S. Billboard country charts, including her only Number One single, 1995's "Mi Vida Loca (My Crazy Life)". She has also released ten albums overall (nine studio albums plus a Greatest Hits compilation), with three platinum and two gold certifications. She has also founded her own label, Stellar Cat Records.
Biography and career
Tillis grew up in Nashville surrounded by music. As the daughter of country star Mel Tillis, she made her debut on the Grand Ole Opry at age 8, singing "Tom Dooley." At sixteen, she injured herself in a severe car accident, requiring many years of surgical reconstruction. Throughout her education, Tillis said, music was the only thing she took seriously. Following surgery, Tillis enrolled at the University of Tennessee and later Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, forming her first band. She dropped out of college to pursue her own musical career in the late 1970s.
Tillis got her musical start in San Francisco, joining the jazz-rock band Freelight along with local guitar legend John Cipollina. She then returned to Nashville as a demo singer. She took another shot at pop stardom with her first (and only) album for Warner Bros. Above and Beyond the Doll of Cutey was released in 1983. After five unsuccessful country single entries, Tillis left the label and became a staff songwriter with Tree Publishing in Nashville. As a staff writer, Tillis shifted her focus to contemporary country. Tillis started making regular appearances on The Nashville Network's Nashville Now, a variety show hosted by Ralph Emery.
During her time with Warner Bros. Records, Tillis transferred from the pop to the Nashville country division, working as a staff writer for Tree. Her songs have been recorded by artists as varied as Chaka Khan, Martina McBride, Gloria Gaynor, Conway Twitty, Juice Newton, and Highway 101. Tillis recorded a pop album, Above and Beyond the Doll of Cutey, in 1983, during a short stay on the Warner Brothers label. Tillis was released from her Warner Bros. contract in 1987 to poor artistic showing on the country music charts, her highest being "Those Memories of You" in 1986 (that song would become a Top five hit for Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, and Linda Ronstadt the following year), which peaked outside the Country top 40 at No. 55. Another song that Tillis wrote and recorded while at Warner Bros., "Five Minutes", would become Lorrie Morgan's first No. 1 in April 1990. During this time, Tillis released singles on her own as a country artist, none of which were very successful, including songs like, "I Wish She Wouldn't Treat You That Way" and "There Goes My Love".
1990 ? 2001: Breakthrough and popularity
Pam Tillis singing on Tuesday, August 15, 2006 at the 2006 Missouri State Fair. Tillis was opening up for George Jones.
In 1989, Tillis, signed with her second record company, Arista Nashville, which currently records singers like Carrie Underwood. Here, Tillis gained her biggest success. Tillis released her label debut, Put Yourself in My Place, in 1991, and the lead single, "Don't Tell Me What to Do," raced into the Top Five, giving Tillis her long-awaited breakthrough. Of the album's five total singles, "One of Those Things" and "Maybe It Was Memphis" also made the Top Ten (as did the album). 1992's Homeward Looking Angel was an equally successful follow-up, with "Shake the Sugar Tree" and "Let That Pony Run" both making the Top Five. The success the singles brought lead to Tillis' album being certified "Gold" by the RIAA that year, and reaching No. 10 on the "Top Country Albums" chart and No. 69 on the "Billboard 200" that year.
1992's Homeward Looking Angel was an equally successful follow-up, with "Shake the Sugar Tree" and "Let That Pony Run" both making the Top Five. Homeward Looking Angel was Tillis' first album to be certified "Platinum" by the RIAA. Tillis had two other successful hits from the album that reached the Country top 20, "Do You Know Where Your Man Is" and "Cleopatra, Queen of Denial". While at Arista, Tillis recorded six albums, earning two gold and two platinum in the process. At one point, she was also married to songwriter Bob DiPiero, who co-wrote several of Pam's singles. One of Tillis' compositions, "We've Tried Eveything Else," was later recorded by Canadian country music artist Michelle Wright in 1994. Tillis also recorded the song and included it on her second album for Arista, Homeward Looking Angel, released in 1992.
In 1993, she won her first major award from Country music, winning the CMA Awards' Vocal Event of the Year with George Jones and Friends for "I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair."
In 1994, Tillis, released a fourth album, Sweetheart's Dance, which is to date her highest-charting studio album on both the "Top Country Albums" chart and the "Billboard 200" chart, peaking at No. 6 and No. 51 respectively. The album also became Tillis' second "Platinum"-certified album. The first single, "Spilled Perfume" was a Top 5 Country hit in 1994, and its follow-up, a cover of Jackie DeShannon's "When You Walk in the Room", was an even bigger hit, peaking in the Top 5 at No. 2, just missing the Country chart's top spot. However, it was her third single from the album, "Mi Vida Loca (My Crazy Life)" that became Tillis' first ? and, to date, only ? Number One single, spending a fortnight on top in February 1995.
In 1996, Tillis released a brand-new studio album, All of This Love, which was certified "Gold" by the RIAA. Released in late 1995, All of This Love was the first album Tillis produced by herself, and gave her Top Tens in "Deep Down" and "The River and the Highway." In 1997, Tillis released her first-ever, Greatest Hits album. The album featured two new tracks, which were released as singles, "All the Good Ones Are Gone" and "The Land of the Living", which both reached the Top 5 in 1997. Tillis called her Greatest Hits record, released in 1997, a turning point. Her career gained momentum when the single "All the Good Ones Are Gone" was nominated for numerous awards, including two Grammys. In 1998, Tillis released a new studio album, Every Time. 1998's Every Time reflected her recent divorce from songwriter Bob DiPiero and gave her a near-Top Ten hit in "I Said a Prayer." The title tracks, second and last single from the album barely cracked the Top 40 at No. 38, and showed Tillis' declining popularity on the Country charts.
In 2000, Pam became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Pam also appeared on the Opry's 75th Birthday special on CBS, performing an original song she wrote as a tribute to Minnie Pearl called "Two Dollar Hat".
A reshuffling at Arista delayed the release of Thunder and Roses until 2001, so in the meantime Tillis performed on Broadway in the Leiber & Stoller tribute production. The one single released from the album, "Please" nearly reached the Top 20 in 2001, and was also her seond entry onto the Billboard Pop charts, reaching No. 120. By this time in 2001, after the new millennium, Country music grew less and less Neo-traditional and more Country-pop sounding with newcomers, like Faith Hill and Shania Twain, and therefore, Tillis career slowed down greatly. She then left Arista in 2001.
She felt 1998 was the right time to expand her acting repertoire. She appeared in back-to-back crossover episodes of Promised Land and Diagnosis Murder on the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). "My interest in acting started in 1989 when I starred in Tennessee Repertory's 'Jesus Christ Superstar' as Mary Magdalene," explained Tillis, who has also appeared on L.A. Law and hosted Live at the Ryman. As well as singing, she has acted in guest spots on television and on stage in the Tennessee Repertory production of Jesus Christ Superstar and on Broadway in Smokey Joe's Caf? that ran from 1995 to 2000.
2002 ? present: Career today
She caught on at Epic's roots subsidiary Lucky Dog and debuted for them in 2002 with It's All Relative: Tillis Sings Tillis, a collection of her father's material that finally found her embracing his legacy on her own terms. RhineStoned appeared in 2007 from Stellar Cat Records. Tillis began her own label, Stellar Cat Records, in 2007. Her first album, RhineStoned, was released in April of that year. Her second album on the label, Just in Time for Christmas, was released on November 13, 2007. Two singles from the album were released that failed to chart the Hot Country Songs list in 2007.
Tillis earned thirteen top ten hits on the country music charts and in 1994 was named the Country Music Association "Female Vocalist of the Year." In 1999, she earned a Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals.
Tillis ranked #30 on CMT's 40 Greatest Women of Country Music in 2002.
Warner Bros. released Pam's 1983 debut album to CD format on June 9, 2009. The album was originally released on vinyl LP in Europe.
In 2009, Pam will be releasing a health cookbook and a new album which features re-recorded versions of many hit singles from the early to late 90's
Twice divorced, she has a grown son, Ben, and lives in Nashville.