Matraca Berg

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Matraca Berg
Matraca Berg
Matraca Berg
Background information
Birth nameMatraca Maria Berg
Born (1964-02-03) February 3, 1964 (age 60)[1]
Nashville, Tennessee, United States
GenresCountry, pop
Instrument(s)Vocals, guitar, harmonica[2]
Years active1982–present
LabelsRCA Nashville, Rising Tide, Eagle
(m. 1993)
WebsiteMatraca Berg Official Site

Matraca Maria Berg Hanna (/məˈtrsə/;[3] born February 3, 1964, in Nashville, Tennessee) is an American country music singer and songwriter. She has released five albums: three for RCA Records, one for Rising Tide Records and one for Dualtone Records, and has charted in the top 40 of the U.S. Billboard country charts with "Baby, Walk On" and "The Things You Left Undone," both at No. 36. Besides most of her own material, Berg has written hits for T.G. Sheppard, Karen Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Deana Carter, Patty Loveless, Kenny Chesney and others. In 2008 she was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and in 2018 she received the Poet's Award from the Academy of Country Music Awards.

Early history[edit]

Matraca Maria Berg was born February 3, 1964, in Nashville, Tennessee.[1] Berg's mother, Icie Calloway,[4] moved from Harlan County, Kentucky, to Nashville in the 1960s to seek her fortune as a singer and songwriter shortly before Matraca was born. Matraca's Aunt Sudie Calloway was a successful Music Row backing singer. Aunts Coleida Calloway and Clara Howard were backing vocalists on Kentucky's Renfro Valley Barn Dance. Uncle Jim Baker was a steel guitar player who also spent some time running Mel Tillis's song publishing companies. When Matraca was 2 years old, her mother married nuclear physicist Ron Berg, who legally adopted Matraca.[5][6]

Berg's mother found only limited success in the music industry and eventually became a nurse. Berg herself then took up songwriting with her mother's encouragement. When Berg played her songs for songwriter Bobby Braddock, he volunteered to co-write with her. She found her earliest success in their collaboration, "Faking Love", which was sung by Karen Brooks and T. G. Sheppard, topping the Billboard Hot Country Singles (now Hot Country Songs) charts on February 19, 1983.[1]

Career history[edit]

After her mother's death in 1985, Berg continued to have success writing songs for other performers. Reba McEntire had a No. 1 song with her "The Last One to Know", and Randy Travis, Tanya Tucker, Ray Price, Marie Osmond, Sweethearts of the Rodeo, Michelle Wright and others recorded her songs.

Berg signed to a recording contract with RCA Records Nashville in 1990, releasing her debut album Lying to the Moon that year. Its first two singles, "Baby, Walk On" and "The Things You Left Undone," both charted in the country top 40 at No. 36, followed by the No. 43 "I Got It Bad" and No. 55 "I Must Have Been Crazy."

Matraca was nominated for Top New Female Vocalist by the Academy of Country Music in 1991, losing to Shelby Lynne.[7]

What was to be her follow-up album, Bittersweet Surrender, was recorded in 1991. It featured the single "It's Easy to Tell," which charted in November 1991. The album was rejected by the label, which wanted a more mainstream-sounding recording instead. One of the songs from this canceled album, "Wrong Side of Memphis," later became a Top Ten hit for Trisha Yearwood. She continued to write for others, and in 1994, released a pop album The Speed of Grace.[8]

Berg's 1995 song, "You Can Feel Bad", co-written with Tim Krekel and recorded by Patty Loveless, was a Number 1 country single, spending twenty weeks on the charts.

Berg co-wrote "Strawberry Wine" along with Gary Harrison, which Deana Carter released as a single. Berg won the "Song of the Year" at the 1997 CMA (Country Music Association) Awards. The same year, she released the album Sunday Morning to Saturday Night via Rising Tide Records; it produced the singles "That Train Don't Run" and "Back in the Saddle," the former of which was released by Pinmonkey in 2006. In 1999, RCA released a compilation album entitled Lying to the Moon & Other Stories which also included tracks from her 1997 Rising Tide release.

In 2004 and 2005, Berg was nominated for induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, making her one of the youngest nominees in history. She was eventually inducted in 2008.[9] She continues to be a prolific and respected country songwriter.

Personal life[edit]

She currently lives in Nashville with her husband, Jeff Hanna, a founding member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. They were married December 5, 1993. The couple met while touring with Clint Black in the late 1980s.



Title Album details Peak chart positions
US Country US
CAN Country
Lying to the Moon 43
The Speed of Grace
Sunday Morning to Saturday Night 48 22
The Masters
  • Release date: 1998
  • Label: Eagle Records
Lying to the Moon and Other Stories
  • Release date: August 10, 1999
  • Label: RCA Nashville
The Dreaming Fields 42 7
Love's Truck Stop
  • Release date: October 21, 2012
  • Label: Proper Records
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


Year Single Peak chart
US Country CAN Country
1990 "Baby, Walk On" 36 61 Lying to the Moon
"The Things You Left Undone" 36 44
1991 "I Got It Bad" 43 30
"I Must Have Been Crazy" 55 58
"It's Easy to Tell" 66 Bittersweet Surrender (unreleased)
1993 "Slow Poison" The Speed of Grace
1997 "That Train Don't Run" 59 70 Sunday Morning to Saturday Night
"Back When We Were Beautiful"[10]
1998 "Back in the Saddle" 51 74
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Music videos[edit]

Year Video Director
1990 "Baby, Walk On" Dave Bridges
"The Things You Left Undone"[11] Geoff Adams
1991 "I Got It Bad" Dave Bridges
"It's Easy to Tell" Gustavo Garzon
1997 "That Train Don't Run" Roger Pistole
1998 "Back in the Saddle" (with Patty Loveless, Suzy Bogguss, Martina McBride, Faith Hill and Trisha Yearwood) Steven Goldmann
1999 "Lying to the Moon"
2012 "The Dreaming Fields"[12] Jon Morgan


Year Title Role Notes
1987 Made in Heaven Studio Singer Cameo; performed the song "We've Never Danced"

Singles written by Berg[edit]

Year Title Artist(s)
1983 "Faking Love" T. G. Sheppard and Karen Brooks
1987 "The Last One to Know" Reba McEntire
"Just Enough Love" Ray Price
1989 "Promises, Promises" Lori Yates
1991 "I'm That Kind of Girl" Patty Loveless
1992 "Wrong Side of Memphis" Trisha Yearwood
1993 "Hey Cinderella" Suzy Bogguss
1994 "XXX's and OOO's (An American Girl)" Trisha Yearwood
"Somebody's Leavin'" Patricia Conroy
1995 "Walk On" Linda Ronstadt
"You Can Feel Bad" Patty Loveless
1996 "Strawberry Wine" Deana Carter
"We Danced Anyway"
"Give Me Some Wheels" Suzy Bogguss
"Wild Angels" Martina McBride
1997 "Cry on the Shoulder of the Road"
"Still Holding On" Martina McBride and Clint Black
"Everybody Knows" Trisha Yearwood
"Oh Romeo" Mindy McCready
1998 "Somebody to Love" Suzy Bogguss
1999 "Fool, I'm a Woman" Sara Evans
"All I Want Is Everything" Mindy McCready
2001 "If I Fall You're Going Down with Me" Dixie Chicks
2003 "You're Still Here" Faith Hill
"On Your Way Home" Patty Loveless
2004 "98.6 Degrees and Fallin'" Jill King
2005 "I Don't Feel Like Loving You Today" Gretchen Wilson
2006 "That Train Don't Run" Pinmonkey
2008 "They Call It Falling for a Reason" Trisha Yearwood
"Misery Loves Company" One More Girl
2011 "You and Tequila" Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter
2013 "Back When We Were Beautiful" Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell


  1. ^ a b c Huey, Steve. "Matraca Berg biography". Allmusic. Retrieved October 4, 2009.
  2. ^ "Sessions: Matraca Berg". American Songwriter. June 2, 2011. Retrieved June 26, 2013.
  3. ^ Nash, Alanna (September 21, 1990) ["Updated"; album was released in 1990]. "Lying to the Moon". Review. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 12, 2022. (pronounced Muh-TRAY-suh)...
  4. ^ Howard, Jason (2012). A Few Honest Words: The Kentucky Roots of Popular Music Lexington, KY: The University of Kentucky Press Retrieved May 29, 2016.
  5. ^ McCall, Michael (2009). "Poets and Prophets: Salute to Legendary Country Songwriter Matraca Berg." Country Music Hall of Fame (July 18, 2009). Retrieved May 29, 2016.
  6. ^ Gleason, Holly (2014). "The Daughter of Music Row." The Oxford American, 83, 1-22-2014. Retrieved May 29, 2016
  7. ^ "Winners database". ACM Country. Retrieved December 18, 2022.
  8. ^ "RCA Relays Matraca Berg's 'Stories' A Second Time". Billboard. July 10, 1999.
  9. ^ "Matraca Berg, John Hiatt, Tom Shapiro in Hall of Fame". Great American Country. October 27, 2008.
  10. ^ Elysa Gardner (November 16, 1997). "Yes, she sings too". The Los Angeles Times. pp. 68, 72. Retrieved December 13, 2021.
  11. ^ "CMT : Videos : Matraca Berg : Things You Left Undone". Country Music Television. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
  12. ^ "CMT : Videos : Matraca Berg : The Dreaming Fields". Country Music Television. Retrieved March 30, 2012.

External links[edit]