Bluegrass virtuosos in Beaver Creek
VAIL CO, Colorado
What do you say about a musician that, at age 40, has already won 26 Grammy Awards?
That she is the most awarded female artist?
That she’s tied for the third most awarded artists overall in Grammy history?
That at the time of her first award at the 1991 Grammy Awards, she was the second youngest winner ever?
What do you say?
You say that her name is Alison Krauss.
A classical music prodigy, Krauss began playing violin at the age of five and won her first fiddle contest at the age of eight. By the time she was 12, she was awarded a “Most Promising Fiddle Player” honor by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music. Two years later she joined the band, Silver Rail, before moving on to another group, Classified Grass, with whom she recorded a demo tape that captured the attention of Rounder Records.
Krauss eventually returned to Silver Rail, who had changed its name to Union Station and replaced its fiddler. In 1990, her collaboration with Union Station on, “I’ve Got that Old Feeling,” won a 1990 Grammy Award for best bluegrass recording, the first of 10 Grammys she would win over the years. In 2007, her internationally acclaimed, multi-platinum collaboration with Robert Plant, “Raising Sand,” won six Grammys, including “Record Of The Year” and “Album Of The Year.”
New York Times writer, Robbie Woliver, described Krauss’ voice as ethereal high and lonesome.
“While not everyone believes in angels,” he said, “it is difficult to deny that her crisp, tremulous soprano voice is heavenly.”
Woliver continued, “Her voice has fueled a folk-flavored mix of contemporary bluegrass, Southern gospel and good old rock ‘n’ roll to the top of the charts.”
Though her style has grown to focus more on her vocals, with a band providing most of the instrumentation, Krauss’ earliest musical experience was as an instrumentalist. Her family listened to folk records, while she was growing up, but her friends exposed her to groups such as AD/DC, Carly Simon, The Rolling Stones and Lynyrd Skynyrd. However, Krauss cites Dolly Parton, with who she has since collaborated a number of times, as a major influence.
Part of Krauss’ unrivaled talent is how effortlessly she bridges the gap between roots music and country, rock and pop. And throughout her remarkable career, Krauss has remained grounded and real.
Alison Krauss and Union Station, who will appear at the Vilar Performing Arts Center tonight, features Krauss on fiddle and lead vocals, Dean Tyminski, guitar and mandolin, Barry Bales, bass, Ron Block, banjo, and guitar and world-renowned Dobro player, Jerry Douglas.
Each member of Union Station has garnered his own awards: Block received the 2006 Gospel Music Association Dove award for “A Living Prayer,” Bluegrass Song of the Year. Douglas has netted six Grammys and six International Bluegrass Music Association’s Dobro Player of the Year awards. Bales was Bass Player of the Year in 2008 and has received 13 Grammys. Tyminski was named Male Vocalist of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association four times and was recognized as 2004’s Male Vocalist of the Year by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America.
Bottom line? As bluegrass virtuosos, the members of Union Station are beyond compare.
“The only thing you can do is record things that move you – that have a connection with you – and to represent yourself truthfully,” Krauss said. “Things have to be true that I sing or I can’t do it. Whether I write them or not, they have to be true for me to say it, and for the guys to play it. The only recipe is if it feels true, and true might be incredibly sad. But that’s the part that feels good, because it’s truthful. It might not be true for anybody else, but it is for us. That’s the recipe.”
And, there’s not doubt, Alison Krauss and Union Station’s “recipe” cannot be duplicated!