Just before we left for IBMA earlier this month, I promised that Brance and I would spend our traveling time listening to a stack of new CDs we had received, and pass along some comments. While we did do our dutiful listening, we ended up with so many new CDs at IBMA that we are now further behind than ever!
We’ll try and get caught up, starting today…
One in the stack is a new project, from a new label – and an artist who may be new to many bluegrass fans.
Donna Ulisse has been singing and performing as a bluegrass and country artist she she was just a wee girl. From singing with country bands as a young woman in Virginia Beach, VA, she married into bluegrass royalty when she wed Rick Stanley, cousin to Dr. Ralph. A move to Nashville won her a major label contract, and the release of Trouble At The Door on Atlantic Records in 1991.
She made the circuit promoting that project, including TV appearances and videos, but her mainstream country career was not to be. But country music’s loss may turn into bluegrass music’s gain with the recent release of When I Look Back, her first recording with a newly-established label, Hadley Music Group.
Hadley has been Donna’s music publisher for some time, and her songwriting is front and center on the new CD. In fact, they liked her music so well, they elected to form a label in order to get it before the public.
She has enlisted some of the brightest lights in the Nashville bluegrass community to record this project. Keith Sewell co-produces with Ulisee, and provides guitar and vocal accompaniment. Scott Vestal is on banjo, Randy Kohrs on dobro, Andy Leftwich on fiddle, Byron House on bass and both Jesse Cobb and Andy Leftwich on mandolin.
The music is decidedly modern and fresh – in composition, arrangement and performance. She mixes her country and bluegrass backgrounds in ways that should appeal to fans from both sides of that aisle, and the songs are often frankly personal and introspective.