"I'm an All American bluegrass girl," Rhonda Vincent appropriately proclaims on All American Bluegrass Girl, her latest release on Rounder Records. It's no idle claim. Vincent has clawed her way up the bluegrass ladder as a working pro since the age of 6, performing in her family band the Sally Mountain Show.
"All my life they told me/ you're pretty good for a girl," she sings on the title cut. That girl grew up to be good enough to win the International Bluegrass Music Association's Female Vocalist of the Year for six consecutive years. Vincent credits her father's encouragement.
"That's probably why I do what I do," Vincent says from her Missouri home. "It's like, 'Oh, you can't do that.' Dad said I could, so I was gonna try that."
Despite her bluegrass upbringing, the singer and multi-instrumentalist tried country first with disappointing results. She eventually found her audience in bluegrass, beginning with 2000's Back Home Again.
By now, she's worked with Alison Krauss and Dolly Parton, who joined Vincent for "Heartbreaker's Alibi," a fast-paced bluegrass romp that sounds wrenched from hardscrabble coal-mining country, a tale of betrayal and heartbreak Loretta would be proud to sing.
She's given the men their due, too. Her family's band always admired and tried to emulate The Osborne Brothers' harmonies, so she was delighted to team with childhood idol Bobby Osborne. Their collaboration, "Midnight Angel," is the tale of a country vampire, a predator searching for a victim to feed his hungry heart at midnight. Osborne, who practically invented the high in high and lonesome, makes the whole thing chilling.
And, given Vincent's own talents and those of the players onboard, this record guarantees Vincent's status as an All American.
Rhonda Vincent and the Rage play Raleigh's Meymandi Hall on Friday, June 16 at 8 p.m. as part of the PineCone Down-Home Series. Tickets are $30.