Whisperin’ Bill Anderson may not be among the first names which come to mind when you start talking bluegrass. His success came as a country singer and songwriter, and he has managed to thrive as a songsmith in the modern era of mainstream country music when many of his 1960s contemporaries can’t get a meeting on Music Row.
Earlier this year, Bill released a bluegrass recording, Whisperin’ Bluegrass, with 8 of the 16 tracks being Anderson originals. The instrumentation is bluegrass all the way, and the material and arrangements show how closely modern bluegrass and old school country music are related.
On Monday, The Post Star newspaper in Glens Falls, NY ran a lengthy interview with Bill which covers a wide range of topics. He offers a good bit of commentary on where the music business is headed, and how he has stayed viable as the music market has changed.
Post Star writer Doug Gruse also brought up Anderson’s bluegrass CD, which prompted this exchange:
This year he released ‘Whisperin’ Bluegrass,’ a CD and DVD featuring tracks with Vince Gill, Dolly Parton, Jon Randall, Willie Nelson and Jan Howard. Anderson is glad to see the recent interest by younger generations in the bluegrass tradition.
“A lot of these young kids are learning to play guitars and mandolins. They’re bringing a whole new interest to the genre,” he said. “Mainstream country music has drifted pretty far from the shore, and bluegrass music is somewhat of an alternative.”
For Anderson, who was born in Columbia, S.C., and spent his youth in Atlanta, the msuci has always been a part of his life.
“When I grew up, the music wasn’t even called bluegrass. It was called hillbilly music then,” he said.
The new recording is a way for Anderson and his Nashville friends to reconnect with their roots.
“For me to go back and do a bluegrass album, it’s going back to where I started,” he said.