Bluegrass on American Idol?

Ellen PetersenI guess it’s always theoretically possible, but this year there may be a better than average chance.

Ellen Petersen, who performs with her family bluegrass band based in Branson, MO, auditioned on a lark for this year’s American Idol on the Fox TV network. She took along her banjo to the bus tour in Oklahoma City, and sang well enough to be sent up to the next level of the competition in San Francisco.

In fact when they saw the banjo, two of the judges, Harry Connick and Keith Urban (who we know to be bluegrass fans), insisted on hopping on stage for an impromptu version of The Ballad of Jed Clampett with Ellen.


Ellen was certainly a good sport, having been caught off guard by the judges, and we certainly wish her well as the competition continues.

Here’s another video of her performing with The Petersens on the KSBI Rodeo Opry. She is a truly gifted vocalist, and the rest of family are fine pickers and singers as well.


The Petersens appear regularly in Branson, and have a CD of their music, Finally Going Home.

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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.