When one of the hottest bluegrass acts signs with arguably the hottest bluegrass label, can anyone really be surprised? It seemed to be a matter of when, not if.
When, it turns out, is today, with the announcement that Darin & Brooke Aldridge are joining the growing stable of notable artists at Billy Blue Records. The husband-and-wife team recorded most recently for Rounder Records.
The new outfit also announced that a Christmas single, Light of the Stable, is available to radio stations today.
“I can’t find the words to properly express my excitement and gratitude for the opportunity to work with them, and to welcome them as the newest members of our Billy Blue Records family,” said Jerry Salley, the label’s creative and A&R director, as well as an award-winning songwriter, producer and artist. “Our entire team is looking forward to this new journey together.”
The deal represents a reunion of sorts. Salley produced two of the duo’s early recordings.
“The first time we remember meeting Jerry Salley, there was an instant connection,” Darin said. “We think a lot like Jerry, from a musician’s standpoint, and share a love and appreciation of the same musical sounds and repertoire.” He said he and Brooke believe the deal “is going to be the beginning of something new and exciting, but (it) feels very familiar at the same time.”
Billy Blue was founded in 2018 by Ed Leonard, Dottie Leonard Miller, and Salley. Leonard had already made a name for himself and Daywind Music in the Gospel arena, but forming a bluegrass label when others were shrinking or running in place was a gamble.
That gamble paid off. Billy Blue is already home to headliners such as Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers, Appalachian Road Show, Alan Bibey & Grasstowne and others. And the label shows no signs of slowing down.
Neither do Darin and Brooke. Each of their last four albums has been better than the last, with a batch of chart-topping hits to their credit. Brooke is riding a string of four consecutive female vocalist of the year awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association. Darin, recognized as the association’s mentor of the year in 2017, is an accomplished instrumentalist. He’s a former member of the Country Gentlemen, and it’s probably only a matter of time until he’s a regular nominee for guitar player of the year.
Just today it was announced that the duo is #10 in the latest Pollstar streaming chart, and they are scheduled to perform tonight in a streaming performance from The Station Inn.
They’ve become staples on the Grand Ole Opry and have recently come into their own as songwriters. So they’re pretty much the complete package. And the pairing with Billy Blue is pretty much a marriage made in musical heaven.
The artists and the label will spend their honeymoon in the studio. Look for a new single early next year, with a full CD likely in late spring.