Upper Management

Is there really that much difference between traditional country and bluegrass? After all, the two genres were combined once upon a time. Regardless of where your opinion lies, Rhonda Vincent provides a serving of both sides on her latest two-disc set.

For years, the sound of her voice has been debatable among listeners. Some said she was too country for bluegrass, while a country music label tried to get her to wring the bluegrass out of her voice. The truth hit her one night after opening a show for George Jones. “We came off stage with a bluegrass band after our show, and we sold out of every CD in 15 minutes,” Vincent said. “It was like this mob scene.” Deciding that answer was with the listener’s perception, Vincent realized she could be only herself.

On this album, she attempts to give an equal helping of bluegrass with six songs, including two with Country Music Hall of Famer Willie Nelson (“Only Me”) and Daryl Singletary (“We Must Have Been Out Of Our Minds”) to highlight the ease of cross-pollination between the two music styles. Her second disc is focused on traditional country. She appeases fans with her most requested tune, “Beneath Still Waters,” that she performed on the Country’s Family Reunion television show, her self-penned tune, “Teardrops Over You,” Grand Ole Opry star Bill Anderson’s “Once A Day,” “Bright Lights & Country Music,” and George Jones’ “When The Grass Grows Over Me.” She also laid down her vocals for the familiar “Drivin’ Nails.” According to Vincent, “I purposely wanted to do that because I recorded it in bluegrass. I wanted to record it in country to show the similarity that my voice is the same.” Michael Rojas adds piano on “Drivin’ Nails,” while Catherine Marx tickles the ivories on the other songs. Kudos to Tim Crouch (fiddles), Kevin Grantt (upright bass), Carl Jackson (acoustic guitar), James Mitchell (electric guitar), and Lonnie Wilson (drums). Mike Johnson breathes exciting life into traditional country with his steel guitar.

You can’t please all the people all the time, but certainly Vincent has made an incredible effort to whet the tastes of her fans from both sides of the fence. As her idol Dolly Parton wrote, “When Rhonda Vincent opens her mouth, it’s great…whether she’s singing country or bluegrass.” (Upper Mgmt. Music, 1036 Tulip Grove Rd., Hermitage, TN 37076, www.uppermanagementmusic.com.)BC

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