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Merle Haggard (Pamela Springsteen)

Merle Haggard

(Singer and songwriter; born April 6, 1937 in Bakersfield, California)The Country Music Hall of Fame, inducting him in 1994, called him not only "one of the genre's most versatile artists" but also perhaps "the single most influential singer-songwriter in country music history." The praise is fitting, the man's followers are legion, and his songs are not just country--though that certainly would be enough.Musically, his gifts are breathtaking. Robert Palmer, in a 1980 New York Times profile, remarked how "Haggard's exceptionally true intonation, his command of varied vocal textures and his insinuating phrasing would make him a superior vocalist in any idiom…. Like Muddy Waters in the blues field and only a handful of other performers, he both embodies and transcends his rich American musical heritage.