COUNTRY SINGER PAM TILLIS COMES BY her sense of responsibility as naturally as her talent—she's the oldest of five whose father, Mel Tillis, is one of the genre's greats. "I'm used to trying to direct," says Tillis, 38, who lives in Nashville with her husband, songwriter Bob DiPiero. "I've been doing it all my life, back to marshaling the troops for the neighborhood show." Tillis has always written or cowritten her songs. Last year she also coproduced her platinum-selling album Sweetheart's Dance. For her new release, All of This Love (Arista), Tillis was the sole producer—a very rare role for a woman in Music City.
Is there resistance to women producers in Nashville?
There are no working female producers in this town. It's crazy. There are women in Nashville with the technical and musical chops to produce, and they're knocking on the door. But it's very hard for a woman to get that kind of credibility unless somebody's willing to give her a chance.
What was the biggest challenge you encountered during the project?
Well, time was a problem. I was touring while we made the record, so I just got tired now and then. I guess I'd say the biggest challenge is that when you're the producer, the buck stops with you. You're there down to every last detail. Most fans would be amazed if they saw you in the mastering studio staring at a sound wave on a computer trying to pick the exact, perfect nanosecond for one cut to end and the next one to start. And you know what? It's fun! Suddenly you're not just painting part of the picture and handing it to someone else: "Here, finish it." I learned a lot. Now I know how much I don't know.