Bluegrass bandleader Rhonda Vincent is one of the powerhouse players of modern bluegrass, both an innovator and a keeper of tradition. The singer and multi-instrumentalist started performing onstage with her family band, the Sally Mountain Show, before she was ten years old and recorded several albums with them before emerging as a solo artist in the 1990s. Although she is mostly identified with bluegrass music, Vincent has often played and recorded country material, and has incorporated a number of country standards into her repertoire... One of the best-selling contemporary bluegrass artists, she tours extensively and started her own independent record label, Upper Management, where she has released several albums. Here's a quick look at her career...

Discography - Best-Ofs

Rhonda Vincent "My Blue Tears" (Rebel, 2002)
A best-of set covering her Rebel years...

Discography - Albums

The Sally Mountain Show "I Came On Business For The King" (Stardust, 1981) (LP)
A gospel album recorded with her family band... Vincent's brother, Darrin Vincent, was also part of the band: he's half of the vocal harmony duo of Dailey & Vincent, which specializes in bluegrass gospel.

The Sally Mountain Show "Blue Ribbon Bluegrass" (Stardust) (LP)

The Sally Mountain Show "Holdin' Things Together" (Stardust, 1987) (LP)

Rhonda Vincent "A Dream Come True" (Rebel, 1990)

Rhonda Vincent & The Sally Mountain Show "Bound For Gloryland" (Rebel, 1991)

Rhonda Vincent "New Dreams And Sunshine" (Rebel, 1991)

Rhonda Vincent "Timeless And True Love" (Rebel, 1991)

Rhonda Vincent "Written In The Stars" (Giant, 1993)

Rhonda Vincent "Trouble Free" (Warner Brothers, 1996)

Rhonda Vincent "Back Home Again" (Rounder, 2000)
An absolutely outstanding traditionalist bluegrass album! Soulful, restrained picking, great vocals, and a killer song selection! What more could you ask for? After several years trying to make it as a Nashville-r, Vincent has come into the acoustic fold, and the results are quite nice. Most of all, this album nails the feeling of live-wire immediacy that made the best old bluegrass so compelling. Includes an excellent version of Dolly Parton's greatest song ("Jolene"), along with material by Wayne Raney, Jimmy Martin and the Louvin Brothers. Believe me, this is a class act.

Rhonda Vincent "The Storm Still Rages" (Rounder, 2001)
Another doozy from this bluegrass powerhouse! Vincent has really got the goods -- this disc doesn't slow down or cheese out even once; it's just one really good, really authentic song after another, with solid picking that's as heartfelt as it is flawless. Banjoist Tom Adams holds down the floor, while Vincent's mandolin work is a melodic delight. If it sounds like I'm gushing, well... I am. This album is one of the strongest I've heard in years, with great song selection, soulful vocals and picking that can't be beat. Includes a nice tribute to Bill Monroe ("Is The Grass Any Bluer?"), a breakneck cover of Ernest Tubb's "Nails In My Coffin," and an insightful gospel number called "You Don't Love God (If You Don't Love Your Neighbor"). Highly recommended.

Rhonda Vincent "One Step Ahead" (Rounder, 2003)
Her mix of brisk truegrass picking and sentimental, crossover love songs still holds true, with perhaps a slight tilt towards the less rugged stuff. But Vincent fans will not be disappointed here, particularly as she's stepped up to the plate as a songwriter, composing or co-writing about half the songs on here, augmenting these with a well-selected set of cover tunes and favorites. Maybe not as dazzling or as rootsy as earlier albums, but still pretty darn fine.

Rhonda Vincent "Ragin' Live" (Rounder, 2005)

Rhonda Vincent "Ragin' Live" (DVD) (Rounder, 2005)

Rhonda Vincent "All American Bluegrass Girl" (Rounder, 2006)
Another rock-solid truegrass outing with Rhonda Vincent gracefully moving from the keeping-the-flame-alive proclamations of the title tune into the mournful patriotism of "Till They Came Home," which traces several generations of war veterans and their families, from WWII to Iraq, along with an equally topical "God Bless The Soldier." The real emotional core of this album is its gospel-drenched ending, which features several top-flight harmony tunes, notably "Jesus Built A Bridge To Heaven" and "Precious Jewel." The secular heartsongs suffer by comparison: they feel a bit restrained, whereas there's a powerful wellspring of feeling bubbling under the religious tunes. All in all, though, this is a top-flight album, every bit as sharp and lively as you'd expect from Ms. Vincent. Nice stuff!

Rhonda Vincent "Beautiful Star: A Christmas Collection" (Rounder, 2006)

Rhonda Vincent "Good Thing Going" (Rounder, 2008)
Another rock-solid outing for truegrass innovator, singer-mandolinist Rhonda Vincent... She taps into the current wave of contemporary adult-pop-folk while simultaneously delivering a slam-bang dose of first-rate lightning-flash acoustic picking... The mix includes stright trad-grass, including covers of songs like Jimmy Martin's "Hit Parade Of Love" and a paean to the on-the-road-again traditions set by old-time artists who toured with the patronage of the Martha White Flour company, as well as softer, more modern material, including a duet with Top 40 country star Keith Urban, on a slightly syrupy version of the old Scottish standard, "The Water Is Wide" (which contemporary Celtic fans will love). Sadly, the copy I got doesn't include real liner notes, so I can't comment on the musicians or songwriters -- but you get the idea. It's another great record by one of the finest bluegrass bandleaders around. Recommended!

Rhonda Vincent "Destination Life" (Rounder, 2009)

Rhonda Vincent "Taken" (Upper Management, 2010)

Rhonda Vincent & Gene Watson "Your Money And My Good Looks" (Upper Management, 2011)
(Produced by Herb Sandker)

Like many bluegrassers, singer Rhonda Vincent has one foot in the country tradition, and can sing as sad a heartsong as anyone. Here; she pairs up with Gene Watson, one of the finest honkytonk balladeers of the 1970s and '80s, a former chart-topper who went indie in the new millennium and is still crafting some of the finest country music around. They first sang together on an spur-of-the-moment Grand Ole Opry performance, and discovered that they really clicked. This excellent set of soulful duets recalls the energy and good humor of the early-1970's Charlie Louvin/Melba Montgomery team as well as the pathos and heartache of the George Jones/Tammy Wynette juggernaut. The musicianship is first-rate, with bluegrass fiddler Stuart Duncan chiming in alongside a solid Nashville studio crew... The repertoire includes several oldies - tunes by Hank Williams and Nat Stuckey, as well as a nice cover of Gary Stewart's "Out Of Hand," and a trio of Rhonda Vincent originals. The whole album is great, the sort of record that just gets better and better the more you delve into it -- highlights include the mournful "Till The End" and the robust honkytonker, "It Ain't Nothing New," about staying in love for the long haul. Duet singing is something of a lost art in the contemporary country scene, but this album evokes the style's glory days, and should thrill folks who yearn for the sweet sounds of yesteryear... Let's hope that this is the first of many such records from this pair!

Rhonda Vincent "Sunday Mornin' Singin' " (Upper Management, 2012)

Rhonda Vincent "Only Me" (Upper Management, 2014)
(Produced by Rhonda Vincent)

A great collection of country-flavored bluegrass from bandleader Rhonda Vincent... A couple of funny things about this release: she splits the songs into two separate discs, though they'd probably all fit on one just as easily... Apparently this is to underscore that one set of songs is called the "bluegrass" side and the other the "country" side, though again, this is kind of funny, because they all sound about the same, which is to say they are all a rich, melodic mix of vintage country and truegrass twang, with sweet covers of '40s/'50s/'60s classics such as "Beneath Still Waters," "Bright Lights And Country Music," "Drivin' Nails" and Charlie Louvin's "Once A Day." Vincent has aften included country covers in her repertoire, but the last few years she's really been going for it, liberated perhaps by the freedom of running her own record label. She's joined on this album by village elder Willie Nelson on a plangent rendition of "Only Me," where they swap licks on mandolin and guitar, while honkytonker Daryle Singletary sings with her on a stunning version of the old Melba Montgomery/George Jones duet, "We Must Have Been Out Of Our Minds." Some tracks forego bluegrass instruments in favor of fiddle and pedal steel, and on these songs Vincent really goes for it with the rich, weepy vocals. Just like catnip for folks like me who are fans of good, old-fashioned heartsongs. Recommended!


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