‘It’s just been a natural occurrence’: Trailblazer Jessi Colter is back with album ‘Edge of Forever’

“I look at life full of phases, and I would never have dreamed some of the great surprises that have come my way. And I’ve learned that the best thing you could do is say ‘yes’ if you resonate to it.”

By Leah ScarpelliNovember 7, 2023 4:59 pm, ,

Back in 1975, Jessi Colter’s song “I’m Not Lisa” put her on just about everyone’s radar – plus a few million radios and jukeboxes. 

Colter was married to Waylon Jennings by the time this song was a crossover smash. But she’d already been performing for over a decade. With her late husband, Colter collaborated and toured, still releasing music after her husband’s death in 2002. 

Earlier this year, when we did a feature on a piece about women in outlaw music, Jessi’s name was at the very top. She’s a pioneer and trailblazer who, from the sound of it, never left the trail, because she’s back with her 13th studio album, “Edge of Forever” – though she hadn’t actually intended to make any more music. 

“The things that have come to me have been very unexpected and blessed. And I look at life full of phases, and I would never have dreamed some of the great surprises that have come my way,” Colter said. “And I’ve learned that the best thing you could do is say ‘yes’ if you resonate to it, you know? So, that’s what I did.”

» MORE: Country legend Jessi Colter reflects on her life as ‘An Outlaw And A Lady’

Colter credits Margo Price – who produced the album – and her husband, Jeremy Ivey, for getting her back to the studio.

“You know, Jeremy said, after a concert I attended of hers locally here, ‘it would be great for you to do another album.’ I said ‘sure.’ I forgot about it. But these are songs that I’ve lived or seen somebody very close by live. And so, you know, it’s just been a natural occurrence,” she said. “Frankly, I was dragging my feet a little, but her band was on – I would say spot on. And incredible. It was just, you know, it was an upper – it was fun. And it took time, you know, to work through the kinks to get here. But it’s all, it’s all good now.”

It’s a collaborative project: In addition to being produced by Price, it was mixed by Colter’s son, Shooter Jennings, and includes a couple of songs co-written by her daughter, Jennifer Eddy Jennings. And it even includes a song, “Lost Love Song,” found in Waylon’s briefcase.

”He just heard it more or less for me to listen to. So, he handed it to me. There was no information, as I remember, on it. I fell in love with the song because it so speaks of the prison of love,” Colter said. “You usually have one of those songs that you keep in your pocket to inspire you. You very seldom decide to record that song. And that was one of those to me, and so I thought, you know, I’m just going to put it out there.”

Colter remarried this year, “to just a marvelous guy,” Arlin Brower, whom she initially met around 2015 and reconnected with four years later.

“He’s a horseman. He’s a breeder. He’s a designer. He was at one time a big equipment contractor. So, he knows how to tear down places and build them,” she said. “He’s raised wonderful children, and his wife was an inventor. They fought a great case for her patent, but she died in an accident around the same time Waylon passed. So, he’s kept his life good.”

It turns out that their wedding at a horse therapy ranch can be found online – something that Colter said she allowed, “after we got it all done.”

I wanted to keep it private as long as I could and then open it up. And I was protecting him in a way as well, because the Waylon fans really don’t want anything to change. And I understand that,” she said. “But I had a lovely response from people. It was a great party. It seemed like it was so encouraging to so many people, you know.

“One of his horsewomen friends who’s a great gal – she has added years to mine – she said, ‘Jessi, the first ride was great, and the second ride is great.’ She’s been widowed and remarried a wonderful man. So, you know, it’s just fun.”

Chris Phelps

Colter says she reflects back on her early days with a range of emotions.

“It all came fast and furious. And I was in my 20s. And you know, those times, you look back and you think, ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t ever want to learn those hard lessons again.’ But I had extreme good things happen to me early in my life, you know, toward the last of my 20s,” she said. “And I can only thank God for His interference in my past – that I allowed Him. I said, you know, ‘I want it to be what you wanted,’ because I had left my faith for about 10 years. So, when I returned, it was just part of, okay, you know, I can either continue to burn with ambition or I can say, ‘what do you want?’ And so that’s what He wanted.”

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It was family responsibilities that later prompted Colter to step back from touring.

“Shooter was born in my later 30s, and I realized when we were over in Singapore in Asia that if I had to get home to him, you know, it’s like three days to get there practically. And I thought, this is not good,” she said. “So later, you know – it was quite a bit later – it was in the ’90s that I took myself off the contract. But our life was very full.

“I’ve had people, you know, intimate that perhaps Waylon held back my career, and that was not true. He was my promoter, and it was my choice. I didn’t want to take all the responsibility. Some women are built for it. They want to do it. But Waylon did a great job of it and was an extremely good businessman, and it takes a lot of fight in the days that we were touring to get your money from a date … that’s not the fun. The fun is the hour that you’re performing to the people and they’re having fun back. It’s not the business part or driving 18 hours to get somewhere. And I got enough of that.”

For Colter, the fun has returned with “Edge of Forever.” So is there going to be an album No. 14? She’s not ready to say – for now, she’s been doing events around the documentary “They Called Us Outlaws,” due out next year.

”As I say, if it makes sense and it’s important, I’m going to do it,” she said.

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