Marty Haggard’s love of his iconic father, Merle Haggard, is evident in his concerts — “A Tribute To My Dad.”
Haggard will bring his talent and his father’s songbook to the Vidalia Conference & Convention Center July 25 starting at 7 p.m. He describes the concert to be an intimate glimpse into his father’s life and will give insight to what inspired many of his country hits.
“I was there all those years when he was writing and recording the songs,” Haggard said. “I have more insight and knowledge than anybody else on this planet about my dad and his music.”
As Haggard grew into a young man, his career also started to grow out of his father’s shadow.
In 1979, Haggard began touring with his own band, signing with Dimension Records in 1981. From 1983 to 1985, he toured with his dad, playing guitar and singing harmony. In 1986, he signed with MTM Records and released “Trains Make Me Lonesome,” which garnered him a nomination as best new male vocalist.
In 1999, Haggard and his wife, Tessa, formed Marty Haggard Music where be started writing and singing gospel songs inspired during his time he spent with his grandmother.
“Granny was a great influence to me as a person which is by and far the most important part,” Haggard said. “I always considered my Granny Haggard as Jesus in a skirt. I don’t know where I would be without her influence, but I know it would not be better.”
For 10 years, Haggard, his wife and son, Jamey, toured the United States singing gospel music.
“I’ve had a passion for Jesus my whole adult life,” Haggard said. “In 1999, this was something I needed to do. I had gotten a little too busy for my own stinking good. I made a conscience effort to get back with Him.”
Haggard said at the end of his first set, he will play one of his patriotic songs, and at the end of his second set he will play one of his gospel songs.
“I have two loves in life: America and Jesus,” he said.
In 2010, he recorded his first album of the tribute with a 15 song CD of “Hag” classics that led to a tribute show in Branson. After performing two years in Branson and releasing a second tribute album, Haggard started touring throughout the United States, Canada, Ireland, Scotland and England playing cuts from the tribute CD’s.
“Playing my dad’s songs is kind of like looking at a family photo album,” Haggard said. “Every picture brings up different memories and takes you to a different place in your mind. Some of these songs have multiple memories for me. It is just a constant flood of memories for me.”
Along with playing his music, Haggard said Concordia Parish will also remind him of his father because of the area lakes.
“It seems like a lot of our alone time was spent fishing somewhere on the lake,” Haggard said. “He didn’t do a lot of other things beside music but he did fish. Every time I see a body of water I think about my dad.”
While on tour with his dad, Haggard remembers many times the touring bus pulling over, so the elder Haggard could fish.
“He just loved to fish,” Haggard said, laughing.
With nothing but memories such as the fishing trips and his father’s music left, Haggard said he was not worried about being compared musically to his father.
“The one thing my dad told me about music is to be yourself,” he said. “I am not trying to be my dad or impersonate him. I’m not nothing but who I am.”