You don't rack up country credibility by wearing big hats and shiny shirts, although the current crop of Nashville movers and posers might suggest otherwise. Better to emulate the trajectory Ricky Skaggs has followed for the better part of the past four decades and return to your roots, or in his case, to the fertile fields of bluegrass. A multi-instrumentalist of exceptional ability — he sings and plays guitar, fiddle, banjo, and mandolin — Skaggs paid his dues with various American masters and evolved into one of the most honored and revered musicians plowing those bluegrass pastures today.
At age seven, he made his television debut with the legendary Flatt and Scruggs. As a teenager, he apprenticed with bluegrass bandleader Ralph Stanley before joining groundbreaking bluegrass band J.D. Crowe and the New South. Following a stint with his own group, Boone Creek, he enlisted in Emmylou Harris's highly heralded Hot Band. Since going solo in the early Eighties, Skaggs has started his own record label, reaped several number one singles, and recorded numerous critically acclaimed albums — among them a 2006 crossover collaboration with Bruce Hornsby and an all-star tribute to his mentor, Bill Monroe. He's also accumulated enough industry accolades to make the cowboy-hat crowd swoon with envy. They include 13 Grammys, the most recent — for best bluegrass gospel album — awarded just a couple of weeks ago for his 2007 album, Salt of the Earth. It seems wherever Skaggs treads, the grass is always bluer.
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