A Bluegrass Miracle!

Tony Rice - photo by Scott SimontacchiFor 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.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.

  • Derek

    There were a lot of folks, including myself, who did not hear it because the livestream feed stopped working about the time Paul Warren was being inducted and came back about the time The Boxcars won for Instrumental group. I hope there is video.

  • Donald Teplyske

    Ditto on my livestream in these northern parts. If, as has been reported, Rice had been told years ago that he could get his voice back through therapy, one has to wonder why he was unwilling to work at it. I didn’t hear him tonight, but that voice is a treasure, and I hope to hear it again.

  • Should have video tomorrow.

    • Derek

      Thanks, John. I will probably cry then like everyone did tonight.

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  • Wayne Morrison

    I was there last night and it was amazing. For almost 20 years I have not heard Tony’s voice so clearly. Don’t get me wrong, it was still not the same voice but then again was voice is the same 20 years later? It was very clear and intelligible.

    The bottom line is, he dedicated that little bit to Allison and it made it all the more powerful. The fact that he came out and gave so much thanks to the audience and his fans was so genuine and sincere you could not miss it!

    My favorite bluegrass guitar player ever!


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  • Ron Kellison

    I was deeply moved by Tony’s speech! It was great to hear his real voice again although it was clear that he had to work very hard to make it happen.

    On a side note, has anyone else noticed the similarity between recent photos of Tony and Gordon Lightfoot?


  • Robin Thixton

    Having to work and unable to stream due to poor live-stream feed does not make one foolish.

  • Jim McKinney

    OKaaaay, John . . . now that you’ve thoroughly pissed-off a boat load of Tony Rice and loyal Bluegrass Today fans/viewers with your totally smart-ass opening line . . . how ’bout makin’ amends by usin’ some of your heavy “insider” influence to get a video clip of Tony’s remarks posted here for the benefit of those of us FOOLS who were unable to attend in person and/or otherwise see, for whatever reason, the “live” coverage of the awards. The partial You Tube version of a computer screen leaves a whole lot left to be desired!

    Thanks, in advance, for your sincere efforts on our behalf !!!

    P.S. – Just in case you missed my drift . . . We are Not Amused !!!