The 48th annual Grammy Awards will be handed out February 8 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. In this report, VOA's Katherine Cole previews the five nominees for Best Bluegrass Album, with some help from a country and bluegrass superstar.
Our first nominee is Blue Highway, for the Marbletown CD. This is the group's first nomination in this category. A previous project, Wonderous Love, was nominated in 2003 in the "Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel" category.
"Marbletown" is the Nashville-based band's seventh release, and it showcases the ten-year-old quintets singing skills. There are 10 original tracks on the CD, and two covers, including the title cut written by Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler.
"Marbletown" is the title track of the latest Blue Highway CD, one of the five albums nominated for the bluegrass Grammy this year.
Who else is up for this award? Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, The Del McCoury Band, The Grascals, and Cherryholmes.
Our next nominee is Rhonda Vincent and The Rage, for the live album Ragin' Live.
Rhonda Vincent has been a professional musician since the age of five, and is a six-time winner of the International Bluegrass Music Association's Female Vocalist of the Year award. She's also won the IBMA Entertainer of the Year honor. Bluegrass and country musician, and historian Marty Stuart stopped by the VOA studios recently, and talked about Rhonda's Grammy chances?
"I like Rhonda Vincent's spirit. It's kind of indelible," Stuart says. "And I wish the world would go ahead and let her in, because she's been knocking on the door a long time, and she's going to get in one way or another. And the way she's going to get in is with great music. She's wonderful."
"Also nominated for the Bluegrass Grammy this year is the Del McCoury Band."
"The Del McCoury Band!" Stuart exclaims.
"What can you say about them?" I ask.
"I like what Sam Bush said one year when he won an award with the Del McCoury Band, something like 'Mandolin Player of the Year.' I think Sam's quote was 'there are so many of them, if you can't beat them, you might as well join them! ' " Stuart laughs.
They release fantastic album, after fantastic album.
"I think the Del McCoury Band is one of the most solid forces of bluegrass in America right now," Stuart says.
The Del McCoury Band's nominated album is The Company We Keep. This song is "Never Grow Up Boy." Semi-autobiographical, perhaps?
Our fourth nominee for the 2006 Bluegrass Grammy is another Nashville-based band, The Grascals. While the band is nominated for its self-titled debut album, each member of the group has been working as a sideman in various country and bluegrass bands. That helps to explain both the very polished singing and picking, and the presence of guests, including Dolly Parton on tracks like "Viva Las Vegas."
And our final nominee for the 2006 Grammy for "Best Bluegrass Album" is Cherryholmes. This family band of self-taught musicians has only been playing together for a few years, and has seemingly come out of nowhere to capture the International Bluegrass Music Association's awards for both "Emerging Artist" and "Entertainer of the Year" in 2005. What do you think Marty Stuart?
"I love the Cherryholmes story! And they've been out there, out in the country, working on their music hard, hard hard for the past couple of years. Everybody thinks they're coming out of nowhere, but that's just the result of a lot of hard work. I love this family, and I love their story. It's a great story, and they've got the talent to back it up," Stuart says.
"Well, I'll put you on the spot. We've got Blue Highway, Cherryholmes, we've got the Grascals, The Del McCoury Band, and Rhonda Vincent, all going for the Bluegrass Grammy. Who do you think is going to win?" I ask.
"Give it to all of them," he jokes.
That's unlikely to happen when the Best Bluegrass Album Grammy is handed out on February 8. Thanks to Marty Stuart for playing along.