DIARY - 20 APRIL 2004 - RHONDA VINCENT
BURIES NAVEL IN BLUEGRASS
caught in the crossfire of a war that can't be won/ mom calls me her little
man and dad his only son/ I love em both but I can choose which one to
leave behind." - Caught In The Crossfire - Terry Herd-Rhonda Vincent.
queen Rhonda Vincent has a bizarre barometer of the power of country
music - her 14-year-old daughter Tensel.
"She says Keith Urban is so hot, it makes her teeth sweat,"
Vincent revealed recently.
"And where she got that, I'll never know!"
The steamy singer bares her navel beneath her red halter-top on the
cover of 11th album One Step Ahead (Rounder-Shock.)
"That's something we make it a point to do, because the stereotype
for bluegrass is overalls, bare feet, missing teeth and sitting on
a hay bale playing a banjo," she says.
"And that's what having teenage daughters has allowed me. They
got me these jeans with a stripe of clear rhinestones running along
the side for Christmas."
contrast to mountain music on O Brother that sold more than eight million
"It's a known fact, no matter what genre of music, that if you want
to appeal to more people, you've got to appeal to them visually first,
hopefully," says Vincent, "the ideal thing would be for them
to hear the music, and it wouldn't matter what you wear. But that's not
Do we have any bluegrass belles ready to ring with such clarity and clout
"I probably stepped really out on a limb with this cover, with the
cleavage and the belly button," she confesses. "And some people
have said, 'Ooh, that's a rock and roll cover.' But that's the whole thing.
We do in-your-face bluegrass. It's aggressive."
At 41 the multi-awarded Missouri minstrel can afford to bare her soul
on a dynamic disc destined to leave her paddocks ahead of most peers.
The singer and two daughters live in a tiny town, Kirksville.
But she is on the road 300 days a year capitalising on her 30-year career
that included a mid nineties stint as a country act on Giant where the
oft-arrested Carlene Carter sang for her supper.
Rhonda gave Alison Krauss a break in 1985 when she joined Jim Ed Brown's
band and her 13-year-old protégé joined the Vincent
"She wore my clothes and her hair colour was the same,"
Vincent recalls. "I saw a picture and I said, 'That's not me,
that's Alison in there!'"
Krauss sings harmony on the title track, one of five songs Rhonda
wrote with Terry Herd - her prolific partner in rhyme.
After leaving Brown's band Rhonda went home to Missouri but tried
Nashville where her two country discs failed to impact charts.
She returned to bluegrass with bassist brother Darrin who plays on
her albums and works in Ricky Skaggs band Kentucky Thunder.
It's no surprise
Vincent kicks off this with rollicking road anthem Kentucky Borderline
- a salient signpost to sibling road song Ridin' The Red Line -
and an alternative to the sterile mainstream country fodder.
Jackson - Rhonda Vincent - Ricky Skaggs
her hot pickers long ago dusted off the corpse of bluegrass with a makeover
that broadened its appeal without poisoning its roots.
Rhonda and Darrin harmonise on You Can't Take It With When You Go
but her peak is the ruptured romance tune Caught In The Crossfire
where a son has to choose between parents.
Vincent caters for traditional fans with ballads - Webb Pierce-June Hazelwood-Wayne
Walker cut Pathway Of Teardrops, Melba Montgomery-Jerry Salley
An Old Memory Found Its Way Back and Jennifer Strickland's Missouri
They segue into gospel tunes Walking My Lord Up Calvary's Hill and
Fishers of Men that herald a real surprise.
Frankie Belle is an instrumental penned by 10 year-old fiddler
Molly Cherryholmes - a home schooled tyke from a Branson family band.
"She's a left-handed fiddle player," says Vincent. "I have
not heard anyone so talented since I heard Alison Krauss when she was
Vincent says she learned from Cherryholmes' mother that Molly was given
an assignment to write a song.
"I was floored when I found out she had written a song," says
Vincent, 'I said, 'oh man, what's that tune?' She said, "Molly wrote
that.' I said, "no way.'"
And, for her tour sponsor, she reprises the self-raising cut of The
Martha White Theme.
Martha was a major radio sponsor long before Rhonda chanced her voice
at the age of 3 in her family band - the Sally Mountain Show, named after
a local landmark.
Vincent duets with Joe Nichols on Cash On The Barrelhead on Louvin
Brothers tribute disc Livin' Lovin' Losin' and performed with Marty
Stuart and Merle Haggard's Electric Barnyard tour.
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