April 2017

The Queen of Bluegrass

Alison Krauss has brought a venerable acoustic music style into the modern world.

At age 18, our April cover artist was already a formidable singer and fiddler, as this video from the 1989 Winterhawk Bluegrass Festival in upstate New York shows. (The footage is taken from a 1994 documentary film called High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass.) In the interview snippets that alternate with the performance clips, Krauss discusses her early influences and the challenges of being a female bluegrass musician.

This 1997 Nashville performance of “So Long, So Wrong” features Krauss’ longtime band Union Station. Her fiddle remains close by, but when she plays it, it simply adds another texture to the ensemble; the music’s focus is on her strikingly pure-sounding voice.

Krauss’ GRAMMY-winning partnership with former Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant is captured here in a 2008 clip from the TV show Later…with Jools Holland. The song is called “Killing the Blues,” and it demonstrates Krauss’ great gift for harmony singing.

Windy City, Krauss’ latest album, is an all-covers collection. Most of the songs are vintage country material, and some are rather obscure, but this one, “Losing You,” was a Top 10 hit for Brenda Lee in 1963. You could say that Krauss has made a career out of sounding old-fashioned, but this particular kind of old-fashioned is new for her—and since very few people have made music that sounds like this in the 21st century, it’s a refreshing move.