Spotlight Artist: Rhonda Vincent
July 2, 2012
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Known as the New Queen of Bluegrass, Rhonda Lee Vincent was born in Missouri on July 13, 1962, and is the fifth generation of musicians in her family. She began performing at age five with her family’s band, The Sally Mountain Show, mastered the mandolin at age eight and the guitar at age ten. She would also become an accomplished fiddle player. Her first recording, a cover of Jimmie Rodgers’ “Mule Skinner Blues”, was released in 1970, the same year that Dolly Parton, to whom Rhonda has often been compared, scored a Top 5 hit with the song. She began her recording career as a soloist in 1986, after becoming a winning contestant on TNN’s You Can Be a Star. She released a number of critically acclaimed albums on the bluegrass-oriented Rebel label, before deciding to venture into mainstream country. She signed with Giant Records and released two albums, 1993′s Written In The Stars and 1996′s Trouble Free. Neither album enjoyed any commercial success, so when Giant closed its Nashville offices, Rhonda returned to bluegrass and began a ten-year stint with Rounder Records, beginning with 2000′s aptly-named Back Home Again.
Though her stint in mainstream country didn’t result in the kind of success that many had anticipated for Rhonda, it did increase her visibility in Music City, and she earned the respect of her peers and became an in-demand guest artist on many mainstream country albums. By the time she returned to her musical roots, bluegrass was enjoying a resurgence in popularity and Rhonda’s own albums began to make some inroads in the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. The International Bluegrass Music Association named her its Female Vocalist of the Year from 2000 until 2006, and Entertainer of the Year in 2001. Other industry groups such as The Society for Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America have likewise honored her.
In 2010 Rhonda launched her own record label, Upper Management. In September of that year she released Taken, which reached #1 on the Billboard Top Bluegrass Albums chart. The following year she released a critically acclaimed duet album with Gene Watson, Your Money and My Good Looks. Next week a live album of religious music, Sunday Mornin’ Singin’, will be released.
Though none of her singles has ever cracked the Top 40 and she is little known outside the world of bluegrass, Rhonda Vincent is regarded by many as one of the best female artists of her generation in both country and bluegrass music. We hope you’ll enjoy our look back at her career throughout the month of July.