Born in Illinois in 1971, Alison Krauss studied classical violin from the age of five. She was recording for the first time at the age of fourteen and released her first solo album in 1987. I’m surprised not many people know about her in Australia, although I know her fan base is pretty huge in America but there is nothing wrong with spreading the word.
She was invited to join a band soon after here solo and they have been Alison Krauss and Union Station ever since. Alison and the band soon renewed interest in bluegrass music and took away the stigma, a little bit but you guys know me. I’m not one for labels; good music is just that, good music.
The first time I heard Alison sing, was on a soundtrack (she has recorded songs for many soundtracks. Its insane) it was a song called It Doesn’t Matter but I was fifteen at the time and my love/obsession about music hadn’t started yet and my interest didn’t go farther than cool, nice voice.
It was until 2004 when music was just more to me than just sounds. I found the Alison Krauss and Union Station album Lonely Runs Both Ways- that’s when it all started for me. I saw the video for Goodbye is All We Have and it’s a simple video but amazing video of the whole band travel by themselves until they all met with their instruments in hand at an old dirt crossroad (crossroads have always grabbed my attention, ever since I learnt about the legend behind them)
From that video and that song I began to love the band and Alison’s voice.
I went to their back catalog and found another one of my favorite oddly enough it was called New Favorite off their previous album and I even found a version of a song I heard on the Chris Gains album from the previous year. It took me a while to figure out where I had heard it before
Alison continued working on soundtracks, it seems she is Hollywood’s go to girl preforming at the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack It sold over seven million copies and won the Grammy for Album of the Year and At the 76th Academy Awards she performed two nominated songs from the Cold Mountain soundtrack.
In 2007 something happened that no person saw coming. Alison teamed up with Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant and it was magical. She has said that
‘Recording with Robert Plant was like jumping off a cliff. Robert and I did it to have fun and see what would happen, but to start with it was very scary because both of us were out of our comfort zones’
They may have been out of their comfort zone but boy did they fly.They created the album Raising Sand. The bluegrass queen and The Rock God, seriously? I know I have written about this album before but trust me, its amazing. It’s fun and haunting and it won five Grammy Awards.
If you do nothing else please track down the Crossroads Special of these two singing each others song as well as their own. It is an experience to say the least.
Alison returned to her bluegrass roots and Union Station in 2011 with their album Paper Airplanes. The title track is one of my all-time favorite songs ( I know I have many of those, don’t laugh)
I think when people hear the words Bluegrass music they think of a rundown house in the middle of deliverance country. Think dirt blowing in and some guy in an old wooden rocking playing the banjo, wondering where he missed placed his teeth and its nothing like that. It’s close to traditional Irish music really. It’s sentimental and timeless.
Give it a go – find what you like. You might not want to listen to it every day but you may just find a place for it in your life . What do you have to lose.