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Krauss cultivates bluegrass into crossover success


November 16, 1999
Web posted at: 11:28 a.m. EST (1628 GMT)

From Neil Curry
CNN WorldBeat Correspondent

In this story:

Ten Grammys and Grand Ole Opry membership

Sample a clip from 'Forget About It'


(CNN) -- Alison Krauss, bluegrass vocalist and fiddle player, started off as a student of classical violin in her Champaign, Illinois, hometown. Now, as she hits the road in support of her bluegrass-to-pop crossover album "Forget About It," Krauss' fan base has expanded. It's embracing a mass audience far beyond her traditional bluegrass constituency.

Krauss, 28, says she didn't plan for things to go this way. Her goal as a youth, she says, wasn't music stardom, but a vibrant classroom of her own.

Country Music

"When I was a kid," Krauss says, "I grew up in a school that had a big music program, and it was incredible. It's what I looked forward to during the day. I had chorus, strings, band. And it was just as important -- you had to take that, like you took (physical education) -- and it was great. Everybody loved it. And I wanted to be a choir teacher."

But her fiddling prowess plucked her in another direction, as Rounder Records signed her up at age 14. Her first Rounder release, "Too Late To Cry," came out in 1989, just two years later.

With "Forget About It," the album she released in August, Krauss says she implemented different types of instrumentation and gave the CD a heavier feel after deciding that the single "Forget About It" was the album's focus.

The longtime fiddler -- she started playing in third grade -- also sang on the album, something she has cultivated in recent works.

"I love hard singing," she says. "That's why my favorites are Paul Rodgers from Bad Company, and Free, and Lou Gramm from Foreigner. Power, hard singing is great and (has) just so much soul and it's the same type of singing as (bluegrass pioneer) Ralph Stanley, if you ask me."


Listen to a clip of "When You Say Nothing at All"

Audio clip: 145k MPEG-3
Audio clip: 200k WAV
Video clip: 1.2Mb QuickTime

(Courtesy Universal)


Ten Grammys and Grand Ole Opry membership

Her combination of voice and fiddle has proved a popular one. At last count, Krauss had a haul of 10 Grammys, a bunch of country and bluegrass awards, and had become the youngest member of the Grand Ole Opry.

And just as her musical preferences cross over into rock and pop, so her own brand of music has crossed over into pop, scoring high on the Billboard album charts.

"Groups like Alison Krauss," says Ricky Skaggs, "have taken bluegrass into more of maybe what you would consider a Shawn Colvin crowd, a softer, easier-listening type bluegrass music. Alison is a tremendous singer, great arranger, producer and has a wonderful band that sings great with her."

Despite such praise, Krauss says she remains star-struck by her music-biz heroes. "I'm blown away that I even really know these people at all," she says, after "listening to them for so many years on records.

"I never really figured I'd get to do this for a living in the first place. If we had some success in some other type of category it'd just be gravy."

From Bill Monroe to Dolly Parton, bluegrass holds its own
November 12, 1999
MacMaster sings in praise of the fiddle 'In My Hands'
November 8, 1999

Alison Krauss on Rounder Records
Rounder Records
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