Alison Krauss: Angelic Voice, But Certified Country
Alison Krauss is an American bluegrass, country singer and musician who was born in Decatur, Illinois. Her parents were both Germans. She is a singer-musician who did not only start early in her craft but was acclaimed from the beginning.
Alison’s complimented singing of hard-driving, a high lonesome genre with folk and country accents paved the way to a new audience and even renewed the interest in bluegrass music in the United States.
It was her mother who had greatly involved Alison in music. She was herself a daughter of artists. Even when Alison was still young, her mother, Louise Krauss, would find interesting things for Alison to do aside from art and sports.
She was 5 years old when she was heard playing the piano and was already interested in taking classical lessons. She was 8 years old when she started to join talent contests. At 10, she actually had her own band, Union Station. At 12, she was receiving recognition. She won the Valley Festival Fiddle Championship.
The Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass in America awarded her the “Most Promising Fiddler in the Midwest”. Vanity Fair Magazine called her “Virtuoso”.
When she was just 14, she made her first-ever recording entitled Different Strokes that featured her older brother, Viktor, Jim Hoilies, and Bruce Weiss. The album appeared on the independent Fiddle Tunes label and not long enough brought her to Rounder Records. This was followed by several album releases, to wit: Too Late to Cry (her debut album), Two Highways (her first group album), and another solo album in 1990, I’ve Got That Old Feeling.
Bluegrass Music Afresh Through Alison’s Pipes
I’ve Got That Old Feeling gave Alison so many firsts: the first album to rise onto the billboard charts, the first album to earn her first Grammy Award, first song for which she recorded a music video. Alison did not imagine herself doing music videos at the beginning of her career. However, after she made her first, she was so convinced she did not only need it but she wanted it.
True enough, her music videos had led her to further popularity. From 1992 -1999, Alison continued to rise in success as she had more album releases and recognition. One of those was from her album entitled, Every Time You Say Goodbye which was released in 1992. This album gave her second Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album of the Year.
In 1993, she joined the Grand Ole Opry where she happened to be the first bluegrass artist to join in twenty-nine years and was, in fact, the youngest cast member at the time. She was 21 then. 1994 was a big year for Alison. She made an album where she worked with the Cox Family. The bluegrass album was called I Know Who Holds Tomorrow.
In the same year, Alison had another recording, this time with the band Shenandoah. The single was entitled, Somewhere in the Vicinity of the Heart. This placed her in the country music Top Ten and won her the Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals.
Also in 1994, Alison, to be able to contribute to “Teach Your Children”, an AIDS benefit album, worked in partnership with Suzy Bogguss, Kathy Mattea, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash. This was produced by the Red Hot Organization. However, it was in 1995, that Alison really made a name for herself during the release of her album Now That I’ve Found You: A Collection. This was a compilation of older releases and some covers of her favorite works by other artists viz, Bad Company’s “Oh Atlanta“, The Foundations’ & Dan Schafer’s “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You,” and The Beatles’ “I Will”.
Proofs of this success were, one, the album became platinum. Two, the album got hold of number two on the country charts and even reached the pop Top Ten. The album included Keith Whitley’s “When You Say Nothing At All” which in itself reached number three on the Billboard country chart and sold two million copies that brought Alison to her first double-platinum album. This album also nominated Alison in four Country Music Association Awards and interestingly she won all of them. The accomplishments just proved Alison was deserving to be called the bluegrass’ leading light in the ‘90s.
In 1997, another award-winning album was released, So Long So Wrong. This Grammy Award Bluegrass Album was said to be somehow distinct, non-traditional, among Alison’s recordings.
One of the tracks in the album, “It Doesn’t Matter” was featured in the second- episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in 1999. “Forget About It ”, was Alison’s next solo release. In it was “Stay” which appeared on the Billboard adult contemporary chart. This album did very well in Billboard 200 and was certified gold.
The Bluegrass Queen in 2000s
Alison’s next album with her band Union Station, New Favorite, was released on August 14, 2001. The album won the Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album as well as its single “The Lucky One”. Alison’s music continued to soar high in 2002 when her album, New Favorite was followed up by the double-platinum double album live. DVD of the same live performance was also released in 2003. Both the album and the DVD were recorded during a performance at The Louisville Palace. Not surprisingly, both were certified double platinum.
Alison also played a singing voice for one of the characters in Eight Crazy Nights. In 2004, there was this Lonely Ruins Both Ways album by Alison and Union Station that was described as pretty much ordinary in terms of song selection and style. Alison even believed that their group was then unprepared and hadn’t planned well. Yet, eventually, the album became gold certified.
In 2007, she had a collaborative album with Robert Plant entitled, Raising Sand. This gained RIAA– certified platinum, won 5 Grammy Awards at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards such as Album of the Year, Best Contemporary Folk/ Americana Album, and Record of the Year.
In 2011, as she returned to Union Station, a new album called Paper Airplane was self-produced by the band. This album was engineered by Mike Shipley who said it took time before they were able to really finish the album because Alison was having non-stop migraines. In 2014, she and her band Union Station toured with Willie Nelson and Family. Other guests were Kacey Musgraves and The Devil Makes Three.
In 2017, Krauss had her first solo release in 17 years, Windy City, under Capitol Records produced by Buddy Cannon. This nominated Alison twice at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards for Best Country Solo Performance and Best American Roots Performance.