Ricky Skaggs – CMA Artist-in-Residence 2013

Ricky SkaggsIt has been announced that Ricky Skaggs will be the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Artist-in-Residence for 2013. Skaggs will present two intimate evening performances on November 18th and 19th, at 7:00 pm.

The concerts will be the museum’s first public programs staged in the new state-of-the-art CMA Theater.

Established in 2003, the museum’s residency program annually honors a musical master who can be credited with contributing a large and significant body of work to the canon of American popular music. Honourees are given a blank canvas and are encouraged to lend their own creative brushstrokes to an up-close-and-personal musical experience.

This year, Skaggs has chosen to perform two unique shows—each with its own theme and line-up of guest artists. The first show, on November 18th, will have a country music theme; Skagg’s special guests that night will include Emmylou Harris, Brad Paisley, Peter Frampton, Gordon Kennedy and The Whites. During the second show, on November 19th, he will celebrate his bluegrass roots with special guests Alison Krauss, Bruce Hornsby, Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill, Del McCoury and The Whites. Both nights will feature Skaggs’ award-winning band, Kentucky Thunder.

Museum Director Kyle Young said ……….

“Ricky Skaggs has created his own career path. It’s rare to find an artist who thrives in three different genres, but Ricky does. He is highly respected in country, bluegrass and gospel music, and he has a way of blending these styles that delights music fans. Ricky has been a great friend to the museum for many years. He was on hand, in 2011, when we announced our plans for expanding the museum. Now he will present the museum’s first public program in our new CMA Theater. With its nearly 800-seat capacity, the new theater allows us to welcome more guests while still maintaining the intimate atmosphere that makes our Artist-in-Residence series so special.”

Skaggs’ more than four decades career is well documented. An innovative musician, distinctive vocalist, record producer and label owner, Grammy award-winning Ricky Skaggs has developed a unique hybrid of traditional American music. While he is regarded as a pioneer of country music’s neo-traditionalist movement of the early 1980s and a flame-keeper for traditional bluegrass, he also has been creatively restless, at times moving roots-oriented music in new, progressive directions.

Ricky Skaggs was born on July 18, 1954, in Cordell, Kentucky. His father gave him his first mandolin when he was five, and it was soon apparent that the young boy was a natural musician. A year later, when Bill Monroe performed in the nearby town of Martha, he invited young Skaggs onstage to play his mandolin. By the age of seven he earned his first pay-cheque for performing Ruby and Honky Tonk Swing on Flatt & Scruggs’ syndicated TV show.

In 1969, Skaggs and fellow Kentuckian Keith Whitley formed a band, the Lonesome Mountain Boys, and did note-perfect covers of the Stanley Brothers’ songs. In 1970, Ralph Stanley heard the young men perform and invited the duo to join his band, the Clinch Mountain Boys. Skaggs stayed with Stanley until 1974, when he joined the Washington, D.C.-based Country Gentlemen. He also performed and recorded with J.D. Crowe & the New South (1974-1975). He started his own band, Boone Creek (in 1975), and recorded albums for Rounder Records and Sugar Hill Records. In 1978, Skaggs joined Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band and bridged the gap between bluegrass and country music—something that he would do throughout his career.

Though he continued to perform and record with other acts, Skaggs launched his solo career with the release in 1979 of Sweet Temptation, on Sugar Hill. His first major-label release, Waitin’ for the Sun to Shine, was issued by Epic Records in 1981. The album included four chart singles, including back-to-back #1s Crying My Heart Out Over You and I Don’t Care.

Waitin’ for the Sun to Shine earned Skaggs two 1982 Country Music Association awards – the Horizon Award and Male Vocalist of the Year. He became a member of the Grand Ole Opry that same year. His follow-up album, Highways & Heartaches, served up three more #1 singles – Heartbroke, I Wouldn’t Change You if I Could and Highway 40 Blues.

The following album, Don’t Cheat in Our Hometown, featured Skaggs three more chart-topping singles; the title track, Honey (Open That Door) and Bill Monroe’s Uncle Pen. The LP Country Boy, released in 1984, was Skaggs’ fourth consecutive gold album and featured the #1 title track. In 1985, he won CMA Entertainer of the Year and a Grammy for Best Country Instrumental, for Wheel Hoss -from the Country Boy album. Skaggs rounded out the 1980s with six more Top Ten hits.

During the 1990s Skaggs returned to his bluegrass music roots and in 1997 he formed his band, Kentucky Thunder, and his own label, Skaggs Family Records. Under this imprint, Skaggs has consistently released Grammy-nominated bluegrass albums, beginning with the Grammy-winning Bluegrass Rules!, which also earned the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Album of the Year honours. The album helped Skaggs and his band to win IBMA’s 1998 Instrumental Group of the Year award – a feat that would be repeated seven more times.

Skaggs has remained an important figure on the 21st century music scene; he toured with the Dixie Chicks in 2000 and participated in two PBS specials in 2002 and 2003. He continues to release critically acclaimed bluegrass and Gospel albums, including Grammy-winning albums Honoring The Fathers Of Bluegrass Tribute to 1946 and 1947 (2008) and Salt of the Earth (2007). He has released more than 30 albums and won 14 Grammys, 11 IBMA awards, eight CMA awards and nine Academy of Country Music awards.

On August 20 this year, Skaggs and Hornsby released Cluck Ol’ Hen, which made its debut at the top of Billboard’s Bluegrass Album chart. The two previously released a duet album in 2007. Also in August 2013, Skaggs published his autobiography, Kentucky Traveler: My Life in Music (It Books, distributed by publisher Harper Collins).

Ticket prices for the Artist-in-Residence shows range from $35-$55 per show (plus ticketing fee). Tickets will go on sale to the general public at noon on Friday, October 18th, and can be purchased at www.countrymusichalloffame.org. Ticket sales, limited to four tickets per transaction, are available on a first come, first served basis and are non-refundable. Will call tickets will be available on the day-of-show at the museum’s ticket office in its new Fifth Avenue lobby.

Museum members are eligible for a 10% discount and a pre-sale purchase beginning at noon on October 15th, for Honor Society members, and, at noon on October 16th, for other museum members, through to October 17th, by visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s website. (A one-year museum membership begins at $40.)

Cash-only concessions will be available before the show and during the intermission.

The 2013 Artist-in-Residence program is made possible, in part, by RJ Young. Additional support for educational programmes is provided by the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission and the Tennessee Arts Commission through an agreement with the National Endowment for the Arts.

Previous Artist-in-Residence honourees include Cowboy Jack Clement, Earl Scruggs, Tom T. Hall, Guy Clark, Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Douglas, Vince Gill, Buddy Miller, Connie Smith and Kenny Rogers.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.