Tony Rice speaks

Tony Rice shares his natural voice for the first time in years at the 2013 IBMA Awards show (9/26/13) - photo by G. Milo FarineauThere have been very few moments during the many years of IBMA Award Shows quite so poignant as Tony Rice’s acceptance speech this past Thursday night when he was inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame. Despite a bit of silliness from Peter Rowan during Sam Bush’s introductory remarks, Tony mesmerized the audience when he began to speak. He started out in the customary rasp we have come to expect since Rice all but lost his voice some time ago, but the collective bluegrass world stopped breathing for a second when he announced that he would reveal the results of his recent attempts to reclaim that gorgeous instrument that redefined bluegrass in the 1970s.

It was a moment for the ages, and thanks to the video wizards at Music City Roots, we can finally share the magic with those of you who couldn’t attend in Raleigh, or follow the live stream online. We’ll all be watching this over and over for years to come.


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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.

  • Jim McKinney

    Thank you so very much, John, for whatever roll that you may have played in making this available, most especially for those of us who missed the “live” coverage.

    What a crying shame it would have been to have lost the opportunity to witness such a momentous occasion!

    Your efforts on our behalf are most appreciated . . .

    Very Sincerely,

    Jim McKinney

  • Wes

    I just watched the video. Glad that BGT was able to provide that footage to their visitors because that was a moment of hope and the depth of Tony’s emotions were well expressed by him. I had no idea that he could be so eloquent. To again hear the voice that we all grew to know and love was like a reunion with a dear friend who has been away for far too long.
    A very warm moment was felt by all.
    When Mr. Rice first appeared on the stage, I was a bit unsettled to see that Tony has not aged as gracefully as many of his friends. He stood there looking a trifle emaciated and elderly, the subtle palsy in his hand gestures made him appear older yet, but that familiar voice was a real surprise. It has been so enjoyable, listening to Tony’s art, that time just flown by and so many years are just a flash in the rearview mirror. It really has been many decades now, but seems like just yesterday.

  • Dick Bowden

    It was an absolutely unforgettable moment for those who were there. I know for many in that audience it was in fact a religious moment, and when Marty Raybon took a few seconds to comment on Tony’s stunner before he accepted his gospel song award immediately after, it really opened the floodgates for many of the deeply religious folks in the audience to shout and sing some praises.

    I for one had no expectation at all that Tony would even be there, so I was shocked when he was escorted on stage. More shocked at his successful effort to use his regular voice. And shocked and delighted when he closed by pleading with everyone to let bluegrass grow but never lose the essence of what makes bluegrass bluegrass.

    I put this right up there with Jimmy Martin’s speech and Benny Martin’s speech in years past. Riveting.

  • dayton

    I appreciate you uploading this for the world to witness.

    And thank You Mr. Rice.


  • Gary L. Eldridge

    May I just ask what in the HELL was wrong with Peter Rowan? Drunk? Losing his mind? Or is he always this annoying? This was not Hall of Fame quality work…a little bit of fun is OK…but the total lack of dignity in the face of the reason he and Sam were there just bugs me to death. I applaud Sam for staying classy while Rowan clowned and mugged. I was always rather ambivalent about Peter Rowan; I didn’t care one way or the other for him…now I definitely know which side of the fence I come down on. I am sure he doesn’t care about what I think…but I believe that if the IBMA has him anywhere near the microphone next year, shame on them!!

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