Jack Grelle | St. Louis Public Radio

Jack Grelle

Jack Grelle's album cover. (Nov. 2, 2016)
Provided by Jack Grelle

Jack Grelle wrote some of his first country songs as he hitchhiked across the Midwest, meeting people from around the country with life experience far beyond his own. Nearly a decade ago, he spent time with strangers in cramped cars — sometimes for days — and gained a strong sense of compassion for a shared, but diverse, humanity.

Jack Grelle (left) poses with Patrick Haggerty, who wrote and performed Lavender Country
Jess Luther | St. Louis Public Radio

The first song off Patrick Haggerty’s 1973 album “Lavender Country" proudly proclaimed the recording’s intentions. It’s gay. It’s country. And it makes no apologies. 

“We were making it for ourselves, which allowed a certain freedom of expression because we weren’t cow-towing to anybody,” said Haggerty, who performs Friday in St. Louis.

Four decades ago, the country-music industry greeted the album with hostility. Haggerty’s recording career came to an end. But his seminal work is finding a receptive country music audience today. Two years after a small Philadelphia label re-released the album to critical acclaim, Haggerty is on his first-ever tour.