Alison Krauss’ destiny with music started at an early age. She began studying classical violin at the age five but soon switched to bluegrass. At the age of eight she started entering local talent contests and at 13 years of age she won the Walnut Valley Festival Fiddle Championship. The Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass in America named her the Most Promising Fiddler in the Midwest.
When she was 16 years of age in 1987 she released her debut solo album Too Late to Cry with Union Station as her backup band. She released a solo album I’ve Got That Old Feeling in 1990 and earned her first Grammy Award for it.
The 1990’s had some memorable milestones. At age 21 she was invited and became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN.
Two of Alison’s albums that were notable are I’ve Got That Old Feeling and in 1995 Now That I’ve Found You: A Collection was a compilation of older releases and some covers of her favorite works by other artists. The album sold two million copies to become Alison’s first double-platinum album.
The 2000’s brought about an album titled New Favorite that went on to win the Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album. In 2011 Alison with Union Station released a new album titled Paper Airplane which won the Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album.
Alison has won many awards over the years but some people are not aware that she is tied with Quincy Jones in second place as a winner for the highest number of Grammy Awards overall. Each has received 27 Grammy Awards.
Even though Alison is primarily known as a country and bluegrass singer she has shown her diversity time and again. She has collaborated with former Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant on the album Raisin Sand. Two of my favorite songs on it are “Gone Gone Gone” (Done Moved On) and “Killing The Blues.”
In a tribute to the Everly Brothers she sang “All I Have to Do is Dream” with Emmylou Harris and a song titled “When Will I Be Loved” with Vince Gill.
Alison and co-vocalist Dan Tyminski contributed multiple tracks for the O Brother, Where Art Thou? movie including “I’ll Fly Away” (with Gillian Welch), “Down to the River to Pray” and “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow.”
She has also collaborated with Singers Suzy Bogguss, Kathy Mattea, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash to contribute “Teach Your Children” to the AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Country
Some of my other favorite Alison Krauss songs are “So Long, So Wrong”, “Now that I’ve Found You”, “I’ve Got That Old Feeling”, “Let Me Touch You for Awhile”, “Everytime You Say Goodbye”, “The Wexford Carol” (a superb religious album). My two Most Favorite songs of Alison are “When You Say Nothing at All” written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz and “The Lucky One” written by one of Alison’s favorite songwriters R.L Castlemen.
When someone pulls up Alison’s name in Amazon under CD’s to view her albums I would highly recommend your viewing Related Video Shorts. I believe you will find them on the album listing page for Paper Airplane. They are short videos (3-5 minutes) of her singing one of her songs. There is no charge to view them. The videos are very well done and of course give a lot of insight about the song itself.
Even with all the awards that Alison has won there are other things that contribute to her being the outstanding artist that she is. First of all she studies her music all the time. For example, when she builds an album, once she gets the first song chosen for it she then tries to select other tracks based on the first to give the final album a somewhat consistent theme and mood. What a brilliant way to put it together.
While realizing all the things that go toward making a hit record, Lyrics are so important. When I first heard “When You Say Nothing at All” and saw the Video Short of Alison singing the song I said ‘This is it!’ The whole concept is that everything you do says ‘I Love you’, but the words don’t have to be spoken because your actions say it all. This song is one of the best love songs I have ever heard!
Hearing “Paper Airplane” and seeing the Video Short for that recording struck me about another trait of Alison that lends to her being the singer that she is. Others have described her voice as ‘angelic’ but on certain songs I see it as ‘so pure and smooth as silk.’ When an artist can be very calm while singing a ballad, hit all the notes with perfect pitch and tone and roll through the octaves, I refer to that situation as ‘She sings effortlessly’.
Back in the day I remember artists like Nat King Cole, Karen Carpenter, Anne Murray, Perry Como and others. They had perfect pitch and tone, and were smooth. They did it effortlessly and we must not forget they each had a commercial voice that was immediately identifiable.
We have been so lucky to have this lady singer who really understands music to entertain us. Alison brings out the best in a song and gives us the memory of it to cherish for a long, long time.