For those foolish enough to not be watching the IBMA Awards Show live, Tony Rice just demonstrated the results of attempts to reclaim one of bluegrass music’s most cherished instruments: his beautiful baritone voice.
It’s not fully recovered, but the difference between what we heard tonight and the raspy, almost gasping sound to which we have become accustomed, was downright jaw-dropping. In accepting his induction into the IBMA Hall of Fame, and following an emotional series of “thank you’s” to his musical contemporaries, Tony addressed the fact that his dear friend, Alison Krauss, was experiencing some problems with her voice. In what was perhaps the most dramatic moment in IBMA Awards show history, Tony then shared that he had spent the past few days trying the various techniques and exercises that had been recommended to him to improve his own. After a brief pause, the strains of that old familiar sound filled the Duke Energy Center, and the hush in the hall was palpable, if not actually visible.
His close friends have told us for several years that doctors had made it clear to Tony that they believed that his voice could be recovered through intensive therapy. On stage tonight, Rice showed us all that he will be back. You could sense Alison at home watching, tearing up a bit – or perhaps leaping out of her chair.
What a glorious moment for Tony Rice, bluegrass music, and those lucky enough to have been on hand to witness it.
The reports of his demise have been greatly exaggerated.