Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rhonda Vincent Does It All

To another artist at a similar point in their career, the idea of self-producing a new album, recording it in their own studio, and then releasing it on their own label, would be an unthinkable gamble, fraught with loose ends, complications, and a distracting degree of responsibility. For Rhonda Vincent, however, it is simply the next logical step. Among the most complete and accomplished artists of her generation – in any genre – Vincent was born into a performing family, and from an early age has dedicated herself to understanding and excelling at every element of her craft. She is quick to point out that she is not infallible: in fact, her willingness to take chances and then diligently assess the results afterwards has insured her continuing artistic and professional growth.
“With every album that I make,” she reflects, “I learn something. Sometimes it’s something I
could or should be doing, sometimes it’s something not to do. I’ve done this all of my life, and
I’ve come to realize that if the experience is not pleasant, you need to find something you can
take away from it…” She applies those lessons exquisitely to Taken, her first album on her own
Upper Management imprint, available in stores on September 21, 2010.

Famously crowned as “the new queen of bluegrass” by the Wall Street Journal, and indeed the
most decorated musician in that field, Vincent’s music is actually much more inclusive and
accessible than that banner would suggest, incorporating savvy contemporary touches while
drawing deeply from the haunting mountain soul of classic Monroe-styled bluegrass. The
presence on Taken of special guests ranging from Dolly Parton to Richard Marx to Little Roy
Lewis affirms Vincent’s wide-ranging vision.
One of the defining aspects of bluegrass – and a prominent thread running through Taken – is
that it is, first and foremost, a communal music. While famously self-reliant, Vincent is also
proud to acknowledge and incorporate the contributions of the Rage, her longtime backing band,
which consists of Hunter Berry (fiddle), Mickey Harris (bass), Ben Helson (guitar), and Aaron
McDaris (banjo, guitar). Bucking the trend of recording with overly-familiar session musicians,
then taking to the road with a different group of players, Vincent not only uses the Rage
throughout Taken – she credits them as her co-producers, giving each member the opportunity to
contribute to the final product.

“It’s a collective venture,” she says with pride. “Everyone brings something. I’m open to
listening to them and asking, ‘What do you hear on this?’ They are free to use their imagination.
It’s so nice to let everyone individually critique their own work. We’re coming together for a
common goal…” More at

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