Another side of the country: Cowboy Church welcomes Marty Haggard
Marty Haggard used to want to “Be Somebody.”
He toured with his dad – country music’s Merle Haggard – released some albums in the ‘80s and was even nominated as Top New Male Vocalist by the Academy of Country Music.
But when the record business became just that – a business – Marty took a new direction; traveling to churches and singing about one of his favorite subjects, the gospel.
He’s played his share of Cowboy Churches over the years, and will perform Sunday in the Cowboy Church of Orange County on Lane of the Oaks, off Texas 62 just south of Farm Road 105. Services begin at 10:30 a.m.
“Everybody is invited and encouraged to bring their lawn chairs to the ‘Come as you are’ service,” said Pastor Dale Lee. “Boots, jeans and hats are welcome.” Hamburgers will be served after the service.
The concert is free; donations will be accepted. Also Sunday, Haggard will be in Port Arthur at Procter Baptist Church at 6 p.m.
Although relatively new to Southeast Texas, Cowboy Churches can be found all over, Haggard said by phone from his home in Doyline, La. – near Bossier City. “They’re not just in Texas.
They’re one of the fastest growing churches in the country.”
Lee agreed – Cowboy Churches are expanding.
“They’re mushrooming everywhere,” he said. “Our church has about 175 members with more than 200 in attendance each week. We’re going to a new facility soon on [Farm Road] 1078. We’re doing the groundwork now and hope to be moved in sometime this summer.”
Haggard, 50, said his more recent songs are slowly finding an audience.
“The music I have is available at our Web site (www.martyhaggard.com), although sometimes DJs will come to our show and get a CD and take it back to their station and play it. Most of our music gets around through the grapevine.”
His present performances are much like his present life, he said.
“My passion is music itself, but it’s the words I live for. I talk about the gospel and how it has affected me. And just like in my shows, anywhere I go these days, even if I meet you on the golf course I’m going to tell you about my wife and family.”
That would be Tessa and 7-year-old son, Jamey Cole. Also in his shows, he performs a tribute to his father, including the elder-Haggard-penned “Troubador.” Marty tours with acoustic guitarist Dwayne Barrilleaux of Sulphur, La.
In 1981, Haggard signed with Dimension Records and cut his first single, “Charleston Cotton Mill.” He traveled with his dad’s band from 1983-85, soon after recording “Trains Make Me Lonesome” on MTM. Continuing into the ‘90s, he released the Christian recordings “Ready or Not Here He Comes” and “The Bridge.”
Of his Nashville days, he said he had “too much” of it. Whereas most country singers dream to play the Grand Ol’ Opry, he described his own appearance as just another gig.
“I grew up in the recording business. To me, the Opry was just another stage. I never would have had the same reaction as if I was someone on the outside looking in.”
A little town such as Doyline is just fine, he said. “I’ve gotten to where I think of even Bossier as ‘the big city.’”
Marty said his father still tours, and always will.
“He’s never going to retire. As long as he can breathe and sing and is able to do it, he’s going to. He recently got through lung cancer and is living every day to its fullest.”
Marty has appeared numerous times on Nashville Now, the Trinity Broadcasting Network, Music City Tonight and on Crook and Chase. He has also been featured on the Today Show and in People Magazine.
For more information on his Orange performance, call Lee at (409) 718-0269.