Allison Moorer is truly a writer, as evidenced by her new album and memoir, both titled Blood.
Although she’s flown under the radar of the mainstream country world for two decades, Moorer has established an impressive musical legacy in Nashville. She’s written songs for Kenny Chesney and Miranda Lambert, received an Oscar nomination, and worked with musicians ranging from Kid Rock to Buddy Miller. But it was a conversation with author and poet Maya Angelou that compelled her to write about a traumatic event from her teenage years in Alabama.
“When my son was about six weeks old, I was asked to be a guest on her radio show,” Moorer says. “She asked me during the course of the interview about my childhood, and she said at some point, ‘OK, well, now you have John Henry. What are you going to tell him when he’s old enough to ask about this thing that happened in your life and about your upbringing and what happened with your family?’ And I didn’t have an answer for that. So in whatever way, that sent me on the course to writing this book.”
Although Moorer and her sister Shelby Lynne have cultivated loyal audiences through music, each has been reluctant in past interviews to discuss the 1986 incident in which their father killed their mother, and then himself, in the family’s backyard. But in Blood, Moorer examines that event with the eye of a journalist and the intimacy of a daughter.
As a result, both the album and memoir are brave accounts of her own life as she recounts fond (and occasionally funny) memories as well as the harrowing domestic abuse she witnessed at her father’s hands. Shelby Lynne wrote the introduction.
Moorer says she started writing the book in earnest in the fall of 2012, and did four rewrites before completing it on her 45th birthday in 2017. “What I learned about myself while I was writing this book is really essential to my becoming a person who has healed enough to be a good parent,” she observes.
The subject of healing is woven throughout the narrative off Blood, as well as the track list of the companion album. That’s particularly true in the closing track, “Heal,” which she wrote with her good friend, Mary Gauthier.
By reuniting with producer Kenny Greenberg, the self-released album fits neatly into her catalog that stretches back to her acclaimed 1998 debut, Alabama Song, and 2000 masterpiece, The Hardest Part.
Asked about her own healing process from the time she started the book until now, Moorer replies, “Well, I think that we’re always healing from something. I don’t know that I will ever be able to say, ‘Oh, I am healed from this,’ from what I went through with my family of origin, from the effects of my parents dying when I was 14. I don’t think that’s necessarily possible. And you know, life is a roller coaster. Some days you’re diamonds and some days you’re dirt. But what I hope that I can have is just a level of self-awareness that allows me to interact with the world with some amount of grace.”