Alison Krauss Rocks the Bluegrass World
Alison Krauss, who turns 38 this week, spent Tuesday night at the White House, serenading the President and the First Lady. But when the GAC special chronicling the event airs August 15, she'll have to leave home if she wants to see it. Alison doesn't own a television.
"I found that when my son (Sam, who turns 10 this year) was little, the day just went better when it wasn't there. So one day it just 'got broke,'" she tells the UK Telegraph, with a laugh.
It's a safe bet the prolific musician didn't spend a whole lot of time watching TV herself as a kid, considering she made her first album at 14 years old and hasn't let up since. Earlier this year, Alison and her unlikely duet partner, Led Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant, snagged five Grammys for their album, 'Raising Sand,'' bringing Alison's Grammy tally to 26, more than any other female artist in Grammy history. The pair also announced that they're working on a second album together.
"It'll be different, as if we hadn't made the first," she says. "I love being in the world of the unknown."
And although the result of their initial collaboration could not have been known when they first met, Alison knew she'd found a kindred spirit when the first thing the legendary rocker wanted to talk about was a legendary bluegrass-er: Ralph Stanley.
"He's very passionate about music. We were riding around making the record and he goes, 'Do you think something's wrong with me? My kids say, 'We want a real dad, can't you be a normal dad?' and I'm like, 'They're going to be waiting a long time.' He's like [she speaks at double speed], 'Listen to this, this Egyptian singer, can you believe it, blaaaah...' Just crazy.That's a really infectious, wonderful thing to be around."
While her childhood was spent playing fiddle and singing at bluegrass festivals, Alison was also becoming well-versed in classic rock, introduced to her by friends who lived nearby in her hometown of Champaign, Ill. (also the home of rockers REO Speedwagon).
"They had records and they had Top 40 radio on all the time. I didn't know who it was at the time, but I listened to AC/DC for the first time, 'Highway To Hell,' Carly Simon, the Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ELO."
(Incidentally, the cover photo of Alison and her band Union Station's 1997 album, 'So Long So Wrong' is an homage to 'Highway to Hell' -- minus the devil horns).
"I always thought that white, hard, beautiful, melodic singing, by singers like Paul Rodgers (lead singer of Bad Company) and Frankie Miller reminded me of a Ralph Stanley type of singing. Blue collar, hardworking. They were working on the farm, tobacco farming in Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina. The singing styles gave me the same feeling."