The idea for Only Me, Rhonda Vincent’s new half country, half bluegrass CD, was hatched on one memorable night in Nashville.
“We were at the Grand Ole Opry on the very night after George Jones passed away,” Vincent recalls. “They asked everyone to sing a George Jones song. So I picked “When the Grass Grows Over Me,” and pretty much as I’m on the Opry stage singing this song it occurred to me, ‘I would love to do these types of songs’ because I never sang that song before. We were getting ready at the time to put together a bluegrass CD so I thought, ‘What if we could do half bluegrass and half country?’ That way, I could include songs like “When the Grass Grows Over Me” and present them in a traditional country music setting, with that instrumentation.”
“Then, as I thought about it,” she continues, “I’d been on the Country’s Family Reunion shows and singing the country songs on there. And the people from that show would ask, ‘Do you have these songs recorded?’ The song “Beneath Still Waters,” the one I did when Dallas Frazier was on, has become our most requested song. We don’t do a single show without doing “Beneath Still Waters” from that single appearance on Country’s Family Reunion.” Those that have followed Vincent’s appearances on Country’s Family Reunion would have witnessed a kind of preview of Vincent’s new release. “All of the songs on there, except for “When the Grass Grows Over Me,” are from Country’s Family Reunion,” Vincent adds.
The bluegrass portion of Only Me features Vincent’s topnotch band, The Rage, and it was important that this group was presented in the best possible light.
“I travel with a world class band; these guys are incredibly talented,” Vincent explains. “So, with the very first song, “Busy City,” I wanted to make sure that it showcases each and every one of them.”
Although it’s impossible for any musician to be all things to all people, Vincent believes Only Me will at least satisfy most folks.
“I think it has something for everybody,” she asserts. “It has up-tempo bluegrass, and then it has your country ballads.”
Strangely, though, the music establishment has always had a problem with Vincent’s split musical personality.
“As a teenager, people would say, ‘Your voice is so country. You should be in country music.’ I had the chance to work with James Stroud and Jack McFadden. I came to Nashville and was signed to Giant Records and I did a couple of country albums. At the very first session, they took me in the office and they said, ‘Can you get the bluegrass out of your voice?’ So for several years I was conflicted: Was I country or was I bluegrass?”
After the two albums for Giant, Vincent felt the need to take a definitive stylistic path.
“I came to this crossroads in my life,” she remembers. “What am I gonna pursue? What am I gonna do? I put together my first bluegrass band, and we opened shows for George Jones – as a bluegrass band. We were in Salam, Virginia, and when we came off stage, they bought every CD we had and they said, ‘We love your country music!’ So George Jones is sort of the common thread through this entire project. He inspired this by us picking that song on the Opry. That night I realized it’s the perception of the listener, whether they think it’s country or bluegrass. But either way, my voice is the same and it’s only me.”