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Rhonda Vincent

Posted in MusicWorld on July 16, 2001

Rhonda Vincent

With over 30 years of performing and recording experience under her belt, Rhonda Vincent can be easily labeled a music business veteran. Not bad for someone who hasn't even turned 40 yet! As a singer, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and bandleader, Vincent is fast becoming an international ambassador of bluegrass. The new millennium is opening many new doors for her - including her being awarded the 2000 Female Vocalist of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association. She has risen to meet this and other honors, honing her band and her own performances to new peaks of virtuosity and power.

Rhonda Vincent's recent success is no fluke: She's been practicing for it for nearly her entire life. Born into music in a way that few contemporary musicians are, Vincent began singing with her family's band, the Sally Mountain Show, not long after her third birthday. Upon turning six, she was given a snare drum and a pair of brushes. From that point, she was a crucial vocal and instrumental part of the Sally Mountain Show. By the time Rhonda had turned eight, she graduated to mandolin, and eventually contributed bass, guitar, fiddle, banjo, and dobro. While still fond of anything with strings, mandolin is her main instrument these days. Her spry solos and strong rhythmic chops are a fine foundation for any band she plays with.

Growing up in the Sally Mountain Show gave a young Rhonda Vincent a wealth of performing experience, playing on radio, television, and bluegrass festivals. All the while, her family nurtured and supported Rhonda's blossoming talent. Her first solo single, a smoking cut of "Mule Skinner Blues," was cut in 1971, when she was only nine. By 1985, she had eight albums with the Sally Mountain Show to her credit.

When she signed with Rebel Records as a solo artist in the late '80s, Rhonda had all the tools she needed to create exciting, unique bluegrass records. Her acclaimed series of recordings with Rebel brought her to the attention of major Nashville record companies. A big fan of classic country music, she seized the opportunity, and recorded two fine albums of country music (Written in the Stars in 1993 and Trouble Free in 1996) for Giant Records. Recording these albums, both critical favorites, taught her invaluable lessons about the music industry. "I learned things about recording, producing, and the business side of music that I could never have learned anywhere else," she says today. "I wouldn't trade that time for anything." She further indulged her love for country music by performing and recording with country legends Dolly Parton and Jim Ed Brown.

In 1999, Rhonda decided to return to her roots. She put together a group of top-notch pickers, dubbing them the Rage, and returned to the world of bluegrass. She signed with Rounder Records, and set about creating a record that returned to her fans all the joy, love, and warmth that they had given to her over her long career.

Back Home Again, released in January of 2000, was Rhonda's proud return to the music of her upbringing. The album was bluegrass in the best sense: a collection that resonates with tradition and heritage, but yet still looks forward. It reveals a little more each time one listens to it. "I felt like this was the first recording, out of the 17 albums I've made that truly captured my music, voice, and style," she says.

The bluegrass community welcomed Rhonda Vincent back with open arms and open hearts. Before long, Back Home Again topped both the Bluegrass Unlimited album chart and the Gavin Americana chart. The Boston Globe picked it as one of the 10 best albums of the year. Even Rhonda herself admitted that making a follow-up would be daunting. "With the success of Back Home Again, " she explains, "my friends and fans told me, 'There's no way you can top it'!"

Released by Rounder Records in June of 2001, The Storm Still Rages is Rhonda Vincent's triumphant affirmation of her devotion to bluegrass. Joined by an all-star cast of supporting musicians including most of the Rage, Vincent wraps her golden voice around thirteen gems, ranging from ballads to blues, and confirms once and for all that bluegrass is where she belongs.

Despite her recent success and years of experience, Rhonda Vincent still doesn't settle for anything less than the best. Her music continues to evolve, and her career continues to grow. A new sponsorship from longtime bluegrass supporter Martha White promises to bring her music to even more potential fans, via Rhonda's newly-recorded version of "The Martha White Theme, " which (in addition to being included on The Storm Still Rages) will be used in national radio and television commercials.