Daughters Get Ready For Tomorrow’s World-Wide Debut–Pickin’ Like A Girl!

Image634949764510474484Back in February/March of 2012 we got wind of some of the Daughters of Bluegrass back in the studio recording tracks for a new project.  This would be the 4th undertaking for the multi-award winning Daughters and try as we might, further information was a closely guarded secret until this past October when a golden gem from the new collection squeaked out through the security net. 

That’s when  Tom T. and Ms. Dixie Hall’s Blue Circle Records released “Walking Through Bethlehem” sung by Sonya, Rebecca and Lily Isaacs and if that was the sample merchandise – look out for the full package.  It’s sure to be a blockbuster at the sales points.

Wednesday, January 30th is D-Day (Daughter's Day)!

Fans will get their first full taste of the project which was more than a year in the making tomorrow when the world-wide debut will be featured on SiriusXM Satellite Radio Image634949610141875105with Kyle Cantrell.  Tune in to Sirius XM (Ch. 61 - The Bluegrass Junction) Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. CST or catch the repeat broadcast on Thursday from 8 p.m. - 9 p.m. CST!

Due to program time restrictions, the full box set will not be aired but instead, selected cuts from the collection will be presented.

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Don’t have SiriusXM or live in Europe, Australia or anywhere else the satellite broadcast is otherwise not available, you can listen online.  The company offers a free 7-day trial – click here.

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According to Blue Circle Records’ Ms. Dixie Hall, where most of the recording was done, they started working on the project before Christmas of 2011 and there are now more than 130 different members of the “Official” Daughters of Bluegrass.   “This project took around a year and a half in the making.  It would, of course, have been completed sooner but we just couldn't quit!  If the truth were told there really is no stopping place.  There is just too much female talent out there that should not pass unheard.,” Ms. Dixie said.  She also said, “there were those who said it couldn’t be done with that many women working together.  But women can work together and we proved it.”  She credited Stella Parton (younger sister of Dolly Parton) for having a great calming effect.  “Stella would just gather everyone around her, make them hold hands and pray and then everyone would calm down for as long as she was there,” Ms. Dixie told us.

The 3-disc set includes 2 discs of bluegrass and one disc of bluegrass gospel plus an added bonus – a fourth disc, the award winning Bluegrass Bouquet CD which was released as the Daughter’s 3rd album in 2009.

“Whenever you undertake a project of this size, things can get unorganized real quick,” she said. But one of the unplanned changes that really worked well for her was the addition of Fayssoux Starling McLean who’s voice has been an integral element in some of the finest country music recordings of the last 40 years (Emmylou Harris' legendary "Luxury Liner," "Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town," "Elite Hotel," and "Pieces of the Sky," and duets with Emmylou on "Spanish is a Loving Tongue" and Green Rolling Hills.")  Ms. Dixie recounted the number of times they called upon Fayssoux to add a part.  She had been at the studio for another project working on an Americana collaboration of Tom T. Hall songs and had shown a keen interest in the Daughters of Bluegrass.  Ms. Dixie said that, “being married to John Starling who helped found the Seldom Scene meant that she knew her bluegrass.”  Ms. Dixie gave Fayssoux one of the ultimate compliments when she compared her to Sara Carter (original Carter Family), “Heather Berry had recorded a song with her husband Tony Mabe, that we wanted to include but in order to keep it as a “Daughters project” that meant we had to take Tony’s voice off and I instantly thought of Fayssoux,” Ms. Dixie told us, “she has that Sara Carter alto quality so we called her back and she came again.”

Donna Ulisse was in to record some of her contributions and she just happened to mention that it would be a dream come true for her to get to sing with one of her idols and she asked Ms. Dixie if she’d ever heard of Fayssoux Starling McLean.  Ms. Dixie said, “We called her back again and she came again and that just seemed to happen quite a lot but it was unplanned when we started.”

Della Mae’s Jenny Lyn Gardner performed on two of the earlier Daughters albums and Ms. Dixie said she was getting superstitious when she realized they didn’t have her on the new recordings. They kept looking but couldn’t find her and the superstition began to grow….then finally a video appeared with Jenny Lyn playing with Janet McGarry in Canada so they contacted Janet to locate Jenny Lyn and then sent some tracks up for her and so now she’s playing some of the mandolin parts and Ms. Dixie said, “we have no worries now but we would like to have all of the Della Mae ladies included on the next record.”

Other new “Daughters” to look forward to hearing: “Pam Tillis sang on some of the tracks at my (Ms Dixie’s) request and there are some Janette Carter tracks on the new collection that Tom T. recorded in our living room before she died” (Janette, who passed away in January of 2006, was the last surviving child of A.P. and Sara Carter).

Ms. Dixie was quick to mention how proud she is of all of the daughters but especially proud of the fact that this project has more of an international representation of the ladies of bluegrass with the inclusion of Northern Ireland’s Wookalily,  Karen Lynne from Australia and Janet McGarry from Canada, who told Prescription Bluegrass:

Image634949621859825334“Being a ‘Daughter of Bluegrass’ is a great honour for me, and to be included in this latest project ‘Pickin’ Like a Girl’ was a wonderful experience. The memories I have from all the time I spend with these talented ladies, I will always treasure. Many of us Daughters come from near and far and I feel there is a special bond that goes beyond the miles, and I’ve been truly blessed to make these lasting friendships.”


Karen Lynne, the Australian Daughter has a new sense of belonging after participating in the “Pickin’ Like A Girl” collection.

Image634949955369450993“I have loved many of Tom T & Miss Dixie’s songs over the years and it was an absolute joy to be asked to sing one for this project! In a country with as small a population as Australia, it’s incredibly difficult to make a living singing bluegrass and traditional country here. There’s very few men and even fewer women singing bluegrass in Australia and certainly no recognition for it.  Add to that long distances between cities and very few gig opportunities, it can certainly feel a little lonely and frustrating at times. Being invited to be a part of such a project that values and promotes women’s contribution to this music, has given me a huge sense of belonging and of being a valued part of a larger family,... I really feel like a ‘daughter’. I don’t know many of these wonderful women, but I have a real connection to them just because we all sing this music that we love so much. I just hope I get to know them all in the coming years!”

The Daughters of Bluegrass has never been about a bunch of ladies who decided to record some of their favorite songs but rather a well-lit showcase for all of the various talents possessed by the different “Daughters,” including songwriting talents.   All of the songs in this collection were written either by Ms. Dixie or by Ms. Dixie and Tom T. Hall and sometimes with a third songwriter which included the songwriting talents of five of the daughters.  Michelle Nixon, Valerie Smith Rebekah Long, Jeanette Williams and Becky Buller all contributed songs for “Pickin’ Like a Girl.”      On that subject, we asked Becky Buller for her songwriter comments:

Image634949647039415524"Once I got over the initial excitement and nervousness of writing with legends like Tom T. and Miss Dixie...and once I figured out how I fit into their usual rhythm of writing, I had a blast!  Tom T. said, 'Here's what we're gonna do.  We're gonna write The Windowsill Song about these birds flying to your window and  teaching you their songs which you'll play on the fiddle.'  And that's just what we wrote!  I'm glad they let me throw a little Beatrix Potter (‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’) feel into the mix.  I love the whimsy of her writing and I thought our subject matter leant itself to that. I'm also psyched that we were able to put together a group of ETSU Bluegrass and Country Music Program alumnus to perform this cut, including Beth Lawrence, Megan Gregory, April Stevens, and myself."

It’s not just bluegrass ladies in front of the microphone either.  The extremely tedious tasks of the control room engineer on this project were handled by Blue Circle Records studio engineer Rebekah Long who also played on several of the cuts and even co-wrote one with Dixie Hall entitled “I Can Make It Happen.” Rebekah told us a little of what it was like to work on such a monumental project:

Image634949678903698057"I wanted the opportunity to work with these women - my God can they pick and sing! It was so thrilling to be in the studio with all of them! My heart soared listening to the New Coon Creek Girls when they started practicing their harmonies, Stella Parton hollering my name when she walked in the door, Pam Tillis saying "let me have it one more time" with her vivacious spark, Donna Ulisse meeting her all-time hero, Fayssoux Starling-McLean, working with our international girls like Karen Lynne (Australia), Wookalily (N.Ireland) and all our newest Daughters with their excitement... the list just goes on and on! It was something I always wanted to do and now I've done it!"

As far as Daughters not yet included but welcome to join, Ms. Dixie said, “there are so many but one that comes to mind is Melonie Cannon,” (daughter of songwriter and record producer Buddy Cannon [“Give It Away”-George Strait, “I Believe In You”-Mel Tillis, “Set ‘Em Up Joe”-Vern Gosdin] and a singing sensation in her own right). Melonie was just fourteen when she sang on her first recording session and by the time she'd reached high school, studio dates filled her calendar. Sammy Kershaw, John Michael Montgomery, George Jones and Kenny Chesney were among the many who made use of her voice. It’s safe to say Melonie Cannon’s voice became a favorite of some of country music’s best. “Of course you always want to include the Dollys and the Lorettas Ms. Dixie added but, “if you start aiming for big stars you’re not showing the talent in the parking lot.” It’s not about making money for us, she said, “it’s about trying to promote the ladies of bluegrass, to acknowledge and give them the respect that is long overdue.”

One of the things that Ms. Dixie is especially proud of is the Box-Set collection this time around instead of a single CD. It’s another way of showing the respect the ladies of bluegrass deserve. “CDs get left in the car or fall under the bed,” she said, “or you loan ‘em out and they don’t come back.” “But you always know where your box sets are,” she added. “You don’t forget where you put those.”


Read more about the Daughters of Bluegrass

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