Interview | Chatting with the Queen of Bluegrass – Rhonda Vincent

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Photo by Rebecca Sharp

The Grammy Award-winning Queen of Bluegrass, Rhonda Vincent, recently released a new single, “Like I Could,” written by Jeannie Seely and Erin Enderlin.

Along with her band, The Rage, Vincent has amassed more awards and accolades than any bluegrass group in history, including eight IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year awards. Vincent has worked with the crème de la crème of artists: Dolly Parton on the chart topping cover of “Please,” as well as Sonny and Bobby Osborne, Jesse McReynolds, Mac Wiseman, and Sally Berry on Live at The Ryman.

Guitar Girl Magazine caught up with Vincent, currently on tour, to discuss how she got started in music, her influences, and her songwriting process.

How would you describe yourself?

Growing up in a musical family, I was in a constant music environment. This developed a deep love for the music that would become my career; and an extreme dedication to my musical career.  So dedicated, and I try to always be considerate of others. I hope and pray others feel I am kind and thoughtful.  In our family band, everyone always received a turn to be featured. I use that same theory with my band. Each person is featured and we respect the talent of each member.

What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?  

I always try to stay out of trouble.

What’s your favorite song to belt out in the car or the shower?

I just did that yesterday; I was singing with Keith Urban’s “Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me” on the car radio, and Jo Dee Messina’s “I’m Alright.”

Who are your favorite artists or bands? 

My favorite all-time artists are James Taylor and the gospel group, The Isaacs.

How did you get started in music? What’s the backstory there?

I grew up in a musical family in Greentop, Missouri, traced back 5 generations of the Vincent Family. When I was 5 years old, we had a TV show, Radio show, and made our first recording, and we were called The Sally Mountain Show, since it was comprised of my Grandpa Bill Vincent, my mom and dad (Carolyn and Johnny Vincent), aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. My dad would pick me up from school each day, and we would sing and play till dinner. After dinner, friends would come over, and we would play till bedtime. It was on­ the­ job training and a complete way of life. I thought everyone else was at their house doing the same thing. It’s a way of life that evolved into a career. After my grandfather passed away, my mom, dad, and I continued as The Sally Mountain Show.

What musicians have influenced you the most?

My Dad was my greatest influence, but we listened to The Osborne Brothers and tried to emulate everything they did. We loved their musical and harmony arrangements. I still do many of their songs in my show, and I’m honored to call them friends now, and to have a project filmed and recorded Live at the Ryman.

How do your musical influences shape and impact your music?

That influence is reflective in everything we do, from the songs we choose to the song arrangements.

Of all the venues you’ve played, which is your favorite?

There are so many. Each one is special in its own way. The Grand Ole Opry & Ryman Auditorium are wonderful because of their historic importance to the music. I love playing outside festivals. My guys always remind me of how much I love them every time I swallow a bug or one gets in my dress. But, despite the hazards of playing outside in the elements of heat or cold, bugs, etc., there’s just nothing like the feeling of playing outside in the open air. Bluegrass Island is one of the most unique venues on the water in Manteo NC.

Why make music? I mean what’s the point?

That’s easy – because I love it. I love it so much that I would be singing and playing no matter if it was in a local nursing home, regional country music show, or to the 30,000 we performed for in Kumamoto, Japan. I live and breathe music, no matter what level of success.

You’ve been dubbed “the Queen of Bluegrass.” What does this title mean to you?

That was a special honor bestowed by the Wall Street Journal.  It’s something that everyone loves to talk about, and I embrace the title and do my best to represent bluegrass music and be a good example to all ages.

How did you choose to record, “Like I Could?”

Jeannie Seely had just written “Like I Could” with Erin Enderlin and Bobby Tomberlin. We were riding in a limo in Nashville, and she sang it to me. I loved it instantly and felt like they wrote it just for me.

What is your songwriting process? Lyrics first, or music? 

I usually start with a melody. Sometimes I might have a line or a subject to write about, but I usually just start playing a melody and build the song around the tempo.

In general, from where do you draw your musical inspiration? 

I love performing, and when you come to our show it’s more than coming to a concert. We meet & greet after every show and then stay in touch via social media. It’s the people that make the places special, and I am inspired by the dedication and support of our music.

What’s next for you musically?

We tour 11-months out of the year, so in addition to a constant tour schedule, I will be writing and completing a new album that will include our new single “Like I Could” that just became a #1 Bluegrass Song!!

Follow Rhonda Vincent Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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