If Pauline Reese had been born in the 1800s, she would have used a plow and a Henry rifle to carve her place the Wild West. Instead, she’s slinging a guitar and sharp-edged lyrics to blaze a trail in a man’s world of outlaw country music and staking milestones along the way, including praise from Willie Nelson as his favorite female vocalist and from the Texas Music Awards as the reigning entertainer of the year – the first woman to earn that honor.
Legends were born when Pauline rode her horse Blue Diamond into shows at famed dance halls across Texas and sang the National Anthem from the saddle at rodeos and sporting events, including one for 83,000 people at a University of Texas football game. Pauline served as an inspiration as the only woman in Texas Music – a no-holds-barred blend of alternative country, rock, Western swing, honky-tonk, folk and Tejano – going head-to-head with Jack Ingram, Kevin Fowler, Cory Morrow, Roger Creager, Reckless Kelly and the Randy Rogers Band. Her advice was sought by the likes of Miranda Lambert, Sunny Sweeney and Bonnie Bishop.
At age 15, she joined a band composed of men in their 40s. Two years later, she fronted it as The Pauline Reese Band. About the same time, she met Willie Nelson and was welcomed into his inner circle of friends including legendary songwriters Sonny Throckmorton (George Strait’s “The Cowboy Rides Away”) and Merle Haggard sidekick Freddy Powers (“Natural High”).
While writing songs with them and studying their music and the artists they admired, she toured and worked odd jobs, from fixing guitars and selling hot dogs on a stick to making titanium kneecaps in a machine shop. Honing songwriting, guitar, vocals and showmanship while performing more than 170 concerts a year, Pauline steadily earned a fan base that allowed her to grow from opening act to headliner. She performed at two of Willie’s Farm Aid festivals that included Dave Matthews, Neil Young and John Cougar Mellencamp and six of Willie’s fabled Fourth of July Picnics.
Pauline’s albums won critical acclaim since her self-titled debut in 1999. Willie joined her for a duet on “Pick Up the Pieces” on her 2004 CD “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.” The Texas Music Awards bestowed album of the year honors on her 2007 CD “Too Texas,” a collection of her classics and others’. Her sixth CD, “Just Getting Started,” reveals Pauline’s growth as an artist in a powerful collection of folk, pop rock and alternative and contemporary country that reflects a life being lived to its fullest – from a leaving a rocky marriage and finding new love and a new role as a wife and mother with two young daughters to all the highs and lows in between.
For Pauline, there are plenty of trails yet to blaze. As the chorus in her latest CD’s title track says, “I’ve just hit my stride this ride ain’t over yet/ My heart is racing to see what’s waiting up ahead/ I’m about to make my mark/ Yeah, I’m just getting started.” "I am full of surprises," sings Pauline Reese on opener "Just Getting Started," and the Austinite's not kidding.
Reese challenges Carrie Underwood for Nashville good looks, but she's a crack Texas songwriter ("First Love") in the tradition of Dolly Parton ("Beautiful Shame," "Front Porch Sunday") and spends half the year on the road honing that craft. Reese isn't afraid to demand your attention; listen up.
~Margaret Moser, The Austin Chronicle
Its buoyant Red Dirt landscape splits hooks (“Just Getting Started”) and hope (the Django Walker co-write “Bring Me Down”) throughout shadows cracking with light (“Front Porch Sunday”). Each feels endlessly lived in. Pay particular attention to “Front Porch Sunday.” The title track might eventually connect radio waves for miles and miles, but Reese’s most compelling moment comes straight from the heart.
~Brian Atkinson, Texas Music Magazine
Pauline Reese is currently working on her 7th album, scheduled for release in early 2016. The highly anticipated release of Willie Nelson's 2016 album will feature a single written by Pauline Reese