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Patty Gayle Sughrue

Patty Gayle Sughrue

Writers, Poets, and Singers


“I like songs with a good amount of truth to them. I’m pretty sure Patty’s songs are true. She lived her songs, then she wrote them. I like that. She has a straight-ahead, no-frills voice. I like that too. Patty is as real as it gets … and her husband Paul plays great guitar, too. This record is a good listen.” — Lloyd Maines, musician/music producer


“Patty Gayle is an honest and unaffected singer. She’s a woman who’s genuine, real, forthright — and country to the core. She writes about life and sings the truth. Her lyrics reveal that her path has not always been an easy one. But she’s not gonna sulk about it. Her music has a buoyancy and an optimism that leaves the listener in a good place.” — Terri Hendrix


“I sing the truth as I see it,” sings Patty on the first track of her debut album, Writers, Poets, and Singers. “I hope that you do, too.” She opens the same song with another disclaimer: “Some folks think I’m crazy …” Not “crazy” for feeling lonely and blue in the old Willie and Patsy sense of the word, but rather “crazy” because part of the truth as Patty sees it is that even some of our wildest dreams are achievable with a little bit of blind faith. The song’s title says it all: “I Believe.” 


Need some proof with that truth? It’s all there in Writers, Poets, and Singers, as plain as day in every word and note. The record was helmed by Grammy-winning producer/guitarist Lloyd Maines (Dixie Chicks, Joe Ely Band) and acclaimed Texas singer-songwriter Terri Hendrix, and features an A-list cast of some of Austin’s most in-demand players (including fiddle and cello player Richard Bowden, pianist Riley Osbourn, clarinetist Stan Smith and trombonist Mark “Speedy” Gonzalez). But every song on it is Patty’s: Patty Gayle, a lifelong music lover who only very recently got around to finding and freeing her own creative spirit, just in time to make her first record at age 56. 


Patty actually first picked up guitar back in high school, teaching herself to play along with her favorite classic country songs by the likes of Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, and Patsy Cline. But she’s spent most of her adult life working for Thundercloud Subs (beginning with a “part time” bookkeeping gig in college 34 years ago), all the while trying to encourage her gifted husband and son (“Big” and “Little” Paul Sughrue) to play music rather than really entertaining the notion of doing it herself. “I always enjoyed jamming and singing with them and friends, but never gave myself serious consideration,” she admits. “I thought I was too busy with work.” It finally took a little push from her family for Patty Gayle to make her long overdue leap of faith. 


“For my 50th birthday, Big and Little gave me vocal lessons with Renee French,” she says. “They said it was time I stopped daydreaming and really do it!” 


She excitedly dived right in — “just for fun” — and was soon swept up in a seven-year journey of self-discovery that began with Patty singing along to instrumental jazz CDs and fine-tuning her Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and Dwight Yoakam covers and eventually, with French’s encouragement, led to her bringing in her guitar and own songs. “I kind of nervously told Renee I was writing a few simple songs, and maybe she could listen and see if she thought I was singing them OK,” Patty Gayle says. “From then on, it’s all I did.” Next thing she knew, Patty was braving open mics around town and playing “mini gigs” with the gals of the Austin group Girl Guitar — and enrolling herself in the “Life’s a Song” songwriting and music business workshop taught by Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines. 


“That was a turning point in my musical life,” she enthuses. “I was excited to be in a group of like-minded people that were there just for the love of music. Terri and Lloyd encouraged all of us to realize that we were writers, poets, and singers, too.” 


She can now add “recording artist” to that list, as well. In 2011, Patty Gayle mustered up her courage (along with her guitar-playing husband) and entered The Zone Recording Studio in Dripping Springs, Texas, where Maines and Hendrix would help her commit her 10 best songs to disc. “By the time I got in the booth to sing the first verse of the first song on the first day, I was knee-knocking nervous,” she recalls with a laugh. “But after the first song, I was hooked, and the hours flew by! I was sad to call it a wrap on the last day.”


Maines’ legendary production skills and the dream team of players he assembled (including Patty Gayle’s own “Big” Paul on electric and acoustic guitars and mandolin) made it a given that Writers, Poets, and Singers was going to sound great. But it’s the disarming, no-nonsense honesty of Patty’s voice — as both singer and poet — that really stands out. The album’s highlights include the aforementioned, folky “I Believe” and the closing title track, which bookend such keepers as the winsome “So Much Fun,” the classic country weepers “The Night’s Not Over Yet” and “You Misunderstood,” and the delightfully tipsy “Jelly Jar,” an affectionate family snapshot framed in country jazz and colored by memories of “cussin’ and discussin’ and laughing hard” under the influence of homemade whiskey and screw-top wine. And make no mistake, that’s not just her classic country influences showing — them’s her honest-to-goodness roots. 


“I don’t really write with metaphors and hidden meanings — I never learned how to do that,” says Patty Gayle, who has lived nearly all her life in her native Texas. “I just write what I mean to say.” 


And now that she’s found her voice, she means to keep on using it — singing the truth as she sees it and hoping others see it, too. She’s proud of her first album, her first big leap of musical faith, and modestly hopes “it makes someone happy, or that maybe one of my songs will move someone.” But most of all, she simply can’t wait for her and “Big Paul” to do it all again.