In my music career I have had the honor to come to know many of those who have found success on the country music charts. Some have made us think with their lyrics, moved us with their performances; mirrored our lives as they reflected the human condition.
Some years ago, my late mother and I sat at the Music City News Breakfast with a lady whose voice is a friend to any song she desires to wrap within her talents – Janie Fricke.
That morning I found her to be all that I hoped, friendly, engaging, giving of her time to the fans that stopped by to say hello, and most of all down to earth.
An Indiana native, who started her career singing jingles for brands that made up the American fabric such as Coca-Cola ®, 7-Up ® and Red Lobster, then found a place in Nashville singing background vocals to artists such as Barbara Mandrell, Crystal Gayle, Conway Twitty and Elvis Presley.
It would be her work singing background on the single “Stranger” with my late friend Johnny Duncan that would land her a recording contract. From that point it was a string of number one hits, two Grammy ® nominations, two CMA Female Vocalist of the Year awards, and 23 albums.
She is currently performing on the road sharing a unique bluegrass show highlighting some of the great songs of country music including some that she took to the charts with The Roys.
Her latest CD “Country Side of Bluegrass” from NewMusicDeals releases Jan. 24 and is available at Ernest Tubb Record Shops or www.janiefricke.com and other music dealers.
“I came to Nashville, and they put the bluegrass pickers together,” she said. “It was so much fun for me. It’s a real departure from what I’m used to, because I’m used to the basic standard country versions.
The pickers encompass some of the best known in the business from Dobroist Randy Kohrs to fiddlers Jimmy Mattingly, Andy Leftwich, Luke Bulla, and Glen Duncan. They are joined by Johnny Hiland on guitar, Mark Fain on bass, David Talbot on banjo and Bob Mater on bluegrass drums. Background vocalists included Chip Davis, Margie Cates and Judy Rodman.
“So it was quite a challenge,” she said, “ Some of the songs were so far out there that I wasn’t sure if I could do it or not, because they were so far from the country version.”
But she does do it; it is a great testament to not only her talent but also the universal range the songwriters endowed in these songs.
Among the list are “You Don’t Know Love,” “Goodbye Broken Heart,” “Tell Me a Lie,” “Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me Baby,” “Do Me with Love,” “He’s a Heartache,” “She’s Single Again,” “I Need Someone To Hold Me When I Cry,” “Down to My Last Broken Heart,” “It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Easy,” “Please Help Me I’m Falling in Love with You,” “Faithless Love,” and “Ring of Fire”
The project was produced and engineered by the tremendously talented Bil VornDick with Kirt Webster as executive producer, and John Netti and Rob Clark assisting with engineering.
If you enjoyed her hits the first time around, these versions will make you even more of a fan, but if you are just looking for some wonderfully easy listening bluegrass, you will find it here… Be sure to add it to your collection. Great job Janie!!!