Irene Kelley – photo by Anastasia Steinman
Irene Kelley has been a consistent hitmaker in bluegrass for the past decade or so. It seems that nearly everything she releases ends up at the top of our Bluegrass Today Weekly Airplay chart. Blending her profound songwriting and soothing voice has proved to be a winning combination for Kelley, as she prepares a new record for release in the near future.
Co-producing with her daughter, Justyna, for her IRK Records, Irene has finished a first track for the album which will be available tomorrow as the debut single. It’s one she wrote with Terry Herd and Billy Droze called Wild Mountain Stream.
Kelley is supported on this track by Aubrey Haynie on fiddle, Cody Kilby on guitar, Matt Menefee on banjo, Adam Steffey on mandolin, and Mike Bub on bass. Justyna and Ronnie Bowman provide harmony vocals.
She tells us that this song started with the title, an image that came from a habit of seeking solace in nature as the pandemic shutdowns took hold last year.
“Making trips to East Tennessee and the Smokey Mountains on occasion was one thing that was doable and kept me sane. The mountains and the beauty there has always been a huge inspiration to me, most notably the running waters, raging rivers, and cool clear streams.
I brought the title and idea to Billy Droze and Terry Herd during one of our Zoom writing sessions. It was only after maybe an hour later that we had the song completed. The musicians and Justyna and Ronnie’s background vocals brought the song to a whole new level of beauty. I hope everyone enjoys the musical arrangement and the mountain imagery.”
Here’s a taste in this brief teaser video.