"I started singing in bars when I was still in high school," says Kelly Hogan. "It's not the easiest thing to do if you like to eat something besides ramen noodles and have insurance."
Difficulties notwithstanding, Hogan paid her dues: She went on tour, put out an album, toured some more. And after 11 years as what she calls a "backup singing ninja" for acts such as Neko Case, Jakob Dylan, Vic Chesnutt, Booker T. Jones and many, many others, Hogan became known as a singer's singer — the kind such big names mention when they're asked whom they admire.
Then one day, a record producer suggested she call in a few favors. Hogan sent some emails to her musician pals.
"I just professed my undying love and humbly asked if someone wanted to write a song for me — either for my sensibility or for my vocal tendencies."
The result: I Like to Keep Myself in Pain, Kelly Hogan's first album in 11 years, which features songs written by M. Ward, Andrew Bird, Robyn Hitchcock, Vic Chesnutt and more. She discusses making the record and more with NPR's Scott Simon.