It was announced last Saturday evening, from the stage of the Ryman Auditorium, that Ricky Skaggs will be the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's 2013 Artist-in-Residence. Skaggs will present two intimate evening performances on November 18 and 19, at 7:00 p.m. The concerts will be the museum's first public programs in the new CMA Theater.
Established in 2003, the museum's residency program annually honors a musical master who can be credited with contributing a large and significant body of work to the canon of American popular music. Honorees are given a blank canvas and are encouraged to lend their own creative brushstrokes to an up-close-and-personal musical experience. Previous Artist-in-Residence honorees include Cowboy Jack Clement, Earl Scruggs, Tom T. Hall, Guy Clark, Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Douglas, Vince Gill, Buddy Miller, Connie Smith and Kenny Rogers.
This year, Skaggs has chosen to perform two unique shows-each with its own theme and lineup of guest artists. The first show, November 18, will have a country music theme; Ricky's special guests that night will include Emmylou Harris, Brad Paisley, Peter Frampton, Gordon Kennedy and The Whites. The second show, November 19, will celebrate his bluegrass roots with special guests Alison Krauss, Bruce Hornsby, Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill, Del McCoury and The Whites. Both nights will feature Skaggs' award-winning band, Kentucky Thunder.
"Ricky Skaggs has created his own career path," said Museum Director Kyle Young. "It's rare to find an artist who thrives in three different genres, but Ricky does. He is highly respected in country, bluegrass and gospel music, and he has a way of blending these styles that delights music fans. Ricky has been a great friend to the museum for many years. He was on hand, in 2011, when we announced our plans for expanding the museum. Now he will present the museum's first public program in our new CMA Theater. With its nearly 800-seat capacity, the new theater allows us to welcome more guests while still maintaining the intimate atmosphere that makes our Artist-in-Residence series so special."
An innovative musician, top-notch vocalist, record producer and label owner, Grammy award-winning Ricky Skaggs has developed a unique hybrid of traditional American music throughout his more than four decades career. While he is regarded as a pioneer of country music's neo-traditionalist movement and a flame-keeper for traditional bluegrass, he also has been creatively restless, at times moving roots-oriented music in new, progressive directions.
Ricky Skaggs was born on July 18, 1954, in Cordell, Kentucky. His father gave him his first mandolin when he was five, and it was soon apparent that the young boy was a natural musician. A year later, when Bill Monroe performed in the nearby town of Martha, he invited young Skaggs onstage to play his mandolin. By age seven, Skaggs earned his first paycheck for performing "Ruby" and "Honky Tonk Swing" on Flatt & Scruggs' syndicated TV show.
In 1969, Skaggs and fellow Kentuckian Keith Whitley formed a band, the Lonesome Mountain Boys, and did note-perfect covers of the Stanley Brothers' songs. In 1970, Ralph Stanley heard the young men perform and invited them to join his band, the Clinch Mountain Boys. Skaggs stayed with Stanley until 1974, when he joined the Washington, D.C.-based Country Gentlemen. He also performed and recorded with J.D. Crowe & the New South. He started his own band, Boone Creek, and recorded albums for Rounder Records and Sugar Hill Records. In the late 1970s, Skaggs joined Emmylou Harris' Hot Band and bridged the gap between bluegrass and country music-something he would do throughout his career.
Though he continued to perform and record with other acts, Skaggs launched his solo career with the release of Sweet Temptation in 1979, on Sugar Hill. His first major-label release,Waitin' for the Sun to Shine, was issued by Epic Records in 1981. The album charted four singles, including back-to-back #1s "Crying My Heart Out Over You" and "I Don't Care."
Waitin' for the Sun to Shine earned Skaggs two 1982 Country Music Association awards-the Horizon Award and Male Vocalist of the Year. He became a member of the Grand Ole Opry that same year. His follow-up album, Highways & Heartaches, served up three more #1 singles-"Heartbroke," "I Wouldn't Change You if I Could" and "Highway 40 Blues."
The following album, Don't Cheat in Our Hometown, scored Skaggs three more chart-toppers: the title track, "Honey (Open That Door)" and Bill Monroe's "Uncle Pen." Country Boy, released in 1984, was Skaggs' fourth consecutive gold album and featured the #1 title track. In 1985, he won CMA Entertainer of the Year and a Grammy for Best Country Instrumental, for "Wheel Hoss"-off of the Country Boy album. Skaggs rounded out the 1980s with six more Top Ten hits.
The 1990s marked Skaggs' return to his bluegrass roots. In 1997, he formed his own label, Skaggs Family Records. In addition to his own award-winning releases, his label has put out recordings by other acts including Blue Highway, Cherryholmes, the Del McCoury Band and The Whites. Under his label imprint, Skaggs has consistently released Grammy-nominated bluegrass albums, beginning with the Grammy-winning Bluegrass Rules!, which also earned the International Bluegrass Music Association's Album of the Year honors. The album helped Skaggs and his band, Kentucky Thunder, win IBMA's 1998 Instrumental Group of the Year award-a feat that would be repeated seven more times.
Skaggs has remained an important figure on the 21st century music scene; he toured with the Dixie Chicks in 2000 and participated in two PBS specials in 2002 and 2003. He continues to release critically acclaimed bluegrass and gospel albums, including Grammy-winning albums Honoring The Fathers Of Bluegrass Tribute to 1946 and 1947 (2008) andSalt of the Earth (2007). He has released more than 30 albums and won 14 Grammys, 11 IBMA awards, eight CMA awards and nine Academy of Country Music awards.
On August 20, Skaggs and Hornsby released Cluck Ol' Hen, which debuted at the top ofBillboard's Bluegrass Album chart. The two previously released a duet album in 2007. Also in August 2013, Skaggs released his autobiography, Kentucky Traveler: My Life in Music.
Ticket prices for these shows range from $35-$55 per show (plus ticketing fee). Tickets will go on sale to the general public at noon on Friday, October 18, and can be purchased at www.countrymusichalloffame.org. Ticket sales, limited to four tickets per transaction, are available on a first come, first served basis and are non-refundable. Will call tickets will be available day-of-show at the museum's ticketing office in its new Fifth Avenue lobby.