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The Grascals & Friends Zoom to No. 1 on Bluegrass Charts

Keoni K

The Grascals — with a little help from their friends — claim the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Top Bluegrass Albums Chart this week.

‘The Grascals & Friends – Country Classics With a Bluegrass Spin‘ features eight guests including Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley, Charlie Daniels, Tom T. Hall, the Oak Ridge Boys and, of course, the band’s long-time mentor, Dolly Parton.

“We did this for many reasons. For myself, I am a huge bluegrass fan,” Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys tells The Boot of why the band agreed to guest on the album. “When I saw the list of people working on this, I thought it was really cool to be involved … [the Grascals] have big hearts. Recording ‘I Am Strong‘ was very, very moving.’”

The song ‘I Am Strong,’ the video of which premiered last month on The Boot, was written by Jamie Johnson, his wife Susanne Mumpower-Johnson and Jenee Fleenor after Jamie visited St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

It was during that visit that Jamie spotted a display with young patients’ writing finishing the sentence “I Am.” Jamie was so moved by the sentiments — especially the “I Am Strong” placed prominently in the middle of the board — that he was inspired to put those words to music. The Grascals recorded two versions — one an all-star version and the other solely with Dolly. Some proceeds from the song and album will benefit the hospital.

“It was just a magical moment,” Jamie tells the Boot of singing the song with young patients at the hospital. “No matter what, no one can take that away from them. I want the song to take off and help raise money to help these kids fight their battles.”

Although the Grascals had a lot of fun recording the Cracker Barrel-distributed album, the contributions to St. Jude’s are what make the project very special.

“This is something we’ve looked forward to for so long,” says Grascals’ mandolin player Danny Roberts of the album release. “It’s doing so well, so quickly. The added bonus of it benefiting St. Jude makes it all the better.”

The Grascals are currently on tour. Their next concert date is scheduled for January 21 in Easton, Md. For a complete list of dates and locales, check here.

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