"Bill might be from Kentucky, Jimmy from Tennessee, although I might be from Missouri I'm as bluegrass as I can be/ all my life they told me you're pretty good for a girl/ some day you'll play the Opry just like Sonny, Bob and Earl." - All American Bluegrass Girl - Rhonda Vincent.

When Rhonda Vincent began singing with her family Sally Mountain Show band on stage, TV and radio at five she soon hit hurdles.

Not just for bluegrass singers in the then unfashionable genre but also as a female in a male dominated culture.

Now, almost 40 years later, Vincent has tackled the subject on her 12th solo album All American Bluegrass Girl (Rounder-Shock).

"The song is an autobiography of my life and growing up within a musical family in Missouri," Vincent, 44, revealed during a recent interview.

"It's basically a truism. Boys would come up usually teenage pickers, and they'd go 'You're pretty good for a girl'. Well thanks."

The mother of two runs Bogie's bluegrass restaurant in Kirksville with Herb Sandker - her singing spouse of 23 years.

"Everything in the song is true," the soprano who majored in accounting at college, added.
"I had the title first before I wrote the song. I usually end up writing on deadline and by necessity. I made sure I had all the things that really felt expressed who I am. I guess I really feel I am the all-American bluegrass girl."

The six times winner of the prestige IMBA female vocalist award gave Alison Krauss a break in 1985.

Krauss, just 12, replaced Rhonda in the Vincent family group when she went on the road with Jim Ed Brown.

Vincent has recorded 23 albums with family and friends during her colourful career and co-produced this 12-track disc with bassist brother Darrin Vincent who has done time in Ricky Skaggs hot band Kentucky Thunder.


The banjo-playing singer wrote three of the strongest tracks here - she penned God Bless The Soldier after visiting Fort Hood in Texas.

"I had performed 10 days straight. I thought I was going to spend the day by the pool and perform that night. That's usually the way it goes," she explained.

"When we got there, the military had other plans. I was not prepared for the impact the visit would make. These soldiers were just back from Iraq. One was discharged, and she hadn't even left the hospital. She said, 'I wanted to wait and thank you for taking the time to be here'."

Instead of sleeping she wrote the song at 2 am in a burst of creativity.

"This is the first time I've ever experienced this in my life," she recalled.

"I was basically holding the pen on this one. In 15 minutes, I wrote God Bless. It was a gift from God, inspired by those who give their lives for us. There is so much commercialism with political songs and with songs about the military. It's like enough already."

Although Byron Hill and Mike Dekle co-wrote sibling Till They Come Home, Rhonda penned fiery instrumental Ashes Of Augustine after being snowed in after a volcano eruption in Alaska when the temperature was 28 degrees below zero.

Dolly Parton duets on chilling Honey Brassfield tune Heartbreaker's Alibi and Bobby Osborne duets with Rhonda on Midnight Angel that features a new verse by another brother Brian.

"This is his debut as a songwriter, and he wrote that verse 10 years ago, right after I recorded it the first time," Vincent added.

"I loved the song and wanted to record it again. Darrin said, 'What if we get Bobby Osborne to come in and sing that second verse? Bobby came, and he loved the song. I have just never hard him sing better. I was just blown away. He is such a part of who I am and the music that I have."

Vincent jerks tears on Prettiest Flower There and gospel into Jesus Built A Bridge To Heaven and Roy Acuff penned finale Precious Jewel.

Vincent, who cut two mainstream country discs in the nineties, once again bridges the gap on a memorable outing.

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