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Posted on: October 15, 2014

BLUEGRASS REVEALED: Bluegrass queen Rhonda Vincent discusses the allure of the music

Rhonda Vincent

FARMERS BRANCH ~ Dubbed the “new queen of Bluegrass” by the Wall Street Journal, the Grammy-nominated and 12-time International Bluegrass Music Award winner, Rhonda Vincent recently reflected on the attraction of bluegrass music as she prepared for travel to Texas and this weekend’s Bloomin’ Bluegrass Festival & Chili Cookoff in Farmers Branch.

Set for Friday night and all day Saturday, October 17 & 18, the Festival combines some of the top names in Bluegrass music with competition-caliber chili, a KidZone for children’s activities and an Arts & Crafts marketplace for shopping in the sunshine. Admission and parking are both free.

Performers scheduled to appear include Bluegrass favorites Seldom Scene, Rambling Rooks, Gibson Brothers, along with Joe Mullins & Radio Ramblers. Also featured will be the Kenny & Amanda Smith Band, Balsam Range and Flatt Lonesome. Ms. Vincent will be performing with her band, The Rage, at 8:30 Friday night to highlight the opening evening of the event.

She attributes the allure of Bluegrass to the authenticity of the music, itself.

“There is great skill required in playing the instruments, and immense care given to the choice of the instrument, the sound of the wood, and the type of strings used,” Ms. Vincent explained.

“When you hear the music, you are hearing the natural sounds of the voice and the tone created in the wood of the instrument.

She said that true sound differentiates bluegrass from many other genres of music where technology can create any sound desired.

“In bluegrass music, the same voice is heard whether that person is standing in the midst of the audience without amplification, or front and center on stage. It's what you see is what you get.

“You may not know how or why, but you can feel the realness in the music.”

Ms. Vincent was born in Kirksville and raised in nearby Greentop, Missouri as the oldest of three children. Her musical career began at age 5 when she began singing gospel songs with her family’s band, the “Sally Mountain Show.” Soon came snare drum, then mandolin, guitar and fiddle.

She said that performing at local festivals, like Bloomin’ Bluegrass is almost second nature.

“I grew up in a musical family, traced back five generations of the Vincent family in northern Missouri,” Ms. Vincent said. “We performed most every weekend during the summer at festivals, so this is like coming home to me. It’s family entertainment and one of my favorite type places to perform.”

After winning the “You Can Be a Star” competition on the original Nashville Network in 1985, Ms. Vincent was signed to a recording contract. She released a pair of mainstream country music albums, but returned to bluegrass, where she was named International Bluegrass Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year annually from 2000 through 2006. Additionally, the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America named her Entertainer of the Year from 2002 through 2006.

Through her years in both the studio and on stage, Ms. Vincent said she vastly prefers performing live.

“Recording is a necessity, but isn’t something I enjoy as much as performing live. I think it’s because of the interaction with people. Our concerts are more like an experience.”

She added that social media plays a part in the bluegrass experience for her and for her fans.

“We meet and greet after every show, take photos and share them on Facebook and we get to know each person as we learn about their lives on Facebook,” she said. “We hear from them each day, well beyond the concert, and until we see them again.”

Finally, the Queen of Bluegrass explained that while bluegrass music may not have broad appeal, it does have something for everyone that comes out in the music.

“It’s an event you can bring your family to, from grandma to the baby,” she said. “I travel with world class musicians who share the passion for the music and the travel and that excitement comes out through the music.

“I hope everyone will come to Farmers Branch to join the fun and excitement this weekend.”

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