Visit Music City with Bridgette Tatum
5 Lessons You Can Learn from Bridgette Tatum
Bridgette Tatum embodies everything that makes Nashville, Tenn., the country music capital of the world. Best known for co-writing superstar Jason Aldean’s No.1 hit “She’s Country,” the singer-songwriter is on the brink of becoming a household name herself, thanks to her unique, soul-shaking sound.
Here are five key lessons you can learn from the life and career of this Music City Local Legend.
Starting at just 6 years old, Tatum and her parents toured nursing homes to perform gospel music. That experience led to church performances. “I grew up a kid in tent revivals, running around in sawdust and folding chairs on a flatbed trailer for the stage,” she says. “We would start at 10 in the morning and go until 3 a.m. That was my start.” She wrote her first song, called “What Happened to Mankind?” when she was just 13.
Tatum might best be known for her distinctly all-American musical style, but she’s also celebrating success on the other side of the world. A song she originally co-wrote for Reba McEntire, titled “Oklahoma,” made quite a detour after her collaborator sent it to a South African pop star named Jennifer Zamudio. “Next thing you know, it becomes her single, she changes the language and the title becomes ‘Ongelooflik,’” Tatum explains. “I will never be able to sing it in my entire life!” Now that the song is a No. 1 hit, would Tatum be up for an international duet? “I would love to do it!” the artist says.
It’s no surprise that Tatum is a huge fan of country royalty like Buck Owens, Hank Williams and Roger Miller. What is surprising is that when she’s backstage preparing for a show, you can usually find her listening to...hip-hop. “I’ve been known to blast some Ludacris or Missy Elliot,” she says. “I want to hear loud music before I go on stage.” It’s not actually a musical stretch at all, she explains. “I think Luda and Missy both are geniuses. I grew up on all kinds of music, so my palate is pretty wide. I pull from everything, and everything becomes an influence on what I do. That’s why I have no boundaries or boxes when I’m writing or singing music.”
Tatum doesn’t just collect song ideas -- she is also an avid boot collector. “I have 96 pairs,” the country crooner admits, which she houses in “a couple” of closets. “It takes more than one to maintain that many!” A former cowboy boot salesperson herself, Tatum worked in multiple shops throughout South Carolina and Tennessee -- including one in Nashville where Garth Brooks famously worked before recording his first big hit.
Her “most comfortable” pair is also her all-time favorite. “There’s a red pair of Old Gringos that I own. They have a studded snake that wraps around them. I would never have picked out anything with a snake, but the craftsmanship was so beautifully done, I just had to have that pair of boots!”
Tatum owns nine guitars, but gave only one of them a name: “It’s a custom guitar that Bedell made for me, and I actually had them put ‘Cackalacky’ into the neck,” the songstress says. This unusual moniker has a sentimental backstory for the proud South Carolina native. “People call me ‘Cack,’ or ‘Cackalack.’ That’s slang for Carolina.” In fact, when she was writing “She’s Country,” Tatum had her heart set on including the word in her lyrics. “All I wanted to do was to rhyme ‘Cackalacky,’ and I did it,” she boasts. ”Sadly, that’s the only line they changed.” Maybe next time she’ll get Cacka-lucky?
Listen to Bridgette Tatum describe the unusual way in which the lyrics to “She’s Country” first came to her on the Local Legends podcast, available on iTunes and Google Play.