When Scott Haggard takes the stage this year at the Hank Williams Festival, he will be sharing two things he and the legendary singer, Hank Williams, have in common; both are native Alabamians and both love country music.
Haggard's professional music career didn't begin until late in life.
"I was a welder for ten years, drove a truck for fourteen, and now lay tile."
As a matter of fact, Scott didn't know he was the son of Merle Haggard until he was eight years old.
"My mother (Lanorah Margaret Bowden) was working in Atlanta in 1968 as a switchboard operator when she and daddy met," continued Scott. "My mother moved to Opp, Alabama, where I was born. I think a couple people might have tried to pass it on to Daddy that I was his son, but nothing ever came of it.
"She married a Vietnam Veteran that was a Navigator on a B-52 bomber during the war. He was a good stepfather to me. I was an only child, and about the only thing I had to play with on the farm was a bunch of dogs. My stepfather taught school, and I rode to school with him every day until the eighth grade.
"I was very inquisitive as a child. I was always asking questions, and sometimes I'd get a stick put on my butt. But I'm sure I needed it.
"When I was eight years old, my mom told me who my real dad was. I had heard of Johnny Cash, but I didn't know Merle Haggard. I couldn't tell anyone because of my stepdad's teaching position, and besides, who would have believed it.
"Around my sixteenth birthday I told a friend and we went to Tallahassee, and saw Merle on stage. But I didn't have the gumption then to go up and introduce myself, but I left a picture of me with his bus driver."
Scott learned to play a guitar, but during his early years his singing was mostly confined to gospel music and in the high school band, where he played drums, saxophone, and guitar.
After graduation, he started driving a truck.
"I've driven a truck in every state except Hawaii," he continued. "One day I was driving a log truck and heard a radio announcement. It was about a group that would give you guitar and singing lessons. I went down on the day it was scheduled and played and sang for the folks using sheet music. A man took me aside and said, 'Boy, you're gonna have to get rid of those cheat sheets. If you're going to be a real singer, you've got to put feelings into your words and music.
"I went home and for two-three weeks began to memorize words and lyrics of songs. As time went on, I got better and better.
"I met daddy in 2000 in Panama City, Florida. I listened to his entire show, and when he started singing "Okie From Muscogee", which I knew was his last song, my wife and I headed outside towards his bus.
"There was a line of people, but I went to the front of it. The driver asked who I was, and I said, 'I'm Merle's son.' He said, "O.K." and that was it.
"His manager came out ahead of him and we were in conversation when daddy came up.
"I'm your son," I told him
Merle replied, "Boy, somebody lied to you."
"I looked him dead in the eye and said, "No, they didn't."
He said, "Do you want to fight?"
"I said, "No."
"About this time a security guard had come up, but Merle said, "Come on in the house."
"My wife and I went inside the bus and daddy said he wanted to hear my story.
"By the time I finished, he was crying. He got up and went to the back of the bus.
"My wife and I got up and left."
A short time later, he took a DNA test, and the results showed Merle was his biological father.
Since then he has been able to meet all the rest of the family, and even spent some time with them.
It wasn't until 2008 that he really began to pursue a singing career.
"One of the first places I sang at was the Country Music Association in Mobile, Alabama," said Scott. "In 2012, I moved to Michigan and put together a band, but come winter, we decided to head back south."
He wrote and recorded his own composition "Living In The Shadow Of Merle" which was released on his debut CD, recorded in Nashville in April 2012.
Scott Haggard has a great country music with a haunting resemblance to his father. Both share that raw, forlorn quality that is essential to the interpretation of traditional country themes, conveying the deepest emotion of every lyric.
"In 2004, I decided to return to my music and have been working on that part of my life ever since. Listening to my dad's music gave me inspiration to write my own songs. My first songs written are called " Living in The Shadow of Merle" which came very quickly to me as it describes my feelings about my Father, and "Do you love me " which I wrote for Vicki (his ex-wife) and relays the feelings I hold for her deep in my heart. "In May of 2008 I won the Horizon Award from the Mobile Alabama Country Music Association, which states, "Presented to Scott Haggard in recognition of your outstanding talent and continued hard work promoting country music.
"I have played before a lot people, from Las Vegas to Nashville, but I've never been on the Grand Ole Opry. That would have to be one of my future goals.
"I love the type music I play. I think that most of it fits in with the type my daddy sang, but most of all, it fits me."
Scott continues to live in Covington County, Alabama.