Discussion: Back to the Roots

Dolly Parton’s award mantle was greatly expanded when she started recording roots albums in the late nineties and through much of this decade, including three Grammys since the release of The Grass is Blue.    Reconnecting with the mountain roots of her childhood and early musical output was a perfect fit.

There are several artists I can think of who would benefit from a similar approach.   The one I’d be most interested to hear is Shania Twain.  I’ve been craving an acoustic album from her ever since this CMT Awards show performance with Alison Krauss & Union Station:


Who would you like to see record a roots album?


  1. I pick Keith Urban, of course. I think the silly “Homespun Love” from his record with The Ranch is ample evidence that his charisma and talent would hold up extremely well in a rootsier setting, though I’d personally like if he were to go even a little more traditional than that number (like, Appalachian-traditional).

    But I’d honestly be pumped if just about any contemporary country act decided to release a roots record, especially if it was a reliable pop-country whiz like Tim McGraw. That’d be fascinating.

  2. Sara Evans, no doubt…Sara began singing and playing mandolin in her family’s Bluegrass band when she was a mere four years old.

    As an adult recording artist, Sara began as a staunch Traditionalist, and also performed a knock out version of Mule Skinner Blues, and recorded a great Bluegrass duet with Ralph Stanley called “Are You Tired of Me Darling” There are other examples that indicate Sara Evans can sing Bluegrass/Mountain music with the best of them. She’s been singing an amazing a-cappella version of Bill Monroe’s “In The Pines” with her sisters in concert. I could go on…lol. OK, just one more…Check out the soundtrack companion album to “Songcatcher”..Sara sings a gut wrenching version of the Celtic flavored Mountain song “Mary of the Wild Moor” (Patty Loveless’ amazing “Sounds of Lonliness” is also included on this great album.)

    To my ears, Sara Evans has one of the most pure and authentic voices in Country music today, and her pure-as-a-mountain-stream vocals would be the the perfect vehicle for a Roots album. Sara’s genuine Country roots run pure and deep, and I can think of no one for whom such an endeavor would be more natural, timely and welcome. Sara can sing this stuff in her sleep!

  3. I think that Garth Brooks probbly has an interesting roots album in him. Ditto for Toby Keith.

    I’m not sure what Keith Urban’s roots would be – “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport” or “Pub With No Beer” – but it would be interesting to hear

  4. I agree with Paul’s vision for Garth and Toby. I think Kieth Urban would make an awesome one too. I’m interested in the bluegrass album Joe Diffie’s slated to release at some point soon and I wonder what happened to the one that Aaron Tippin was supposedly going to make. I also think Clint Black would make a great one.

  5. Oh yeah, I’d also love it if Alan Jackson and Alison Krauss went back in the studio to make the album that they were originally planning to make before Alison got the idea for Like Red On A Rose. Alan’s voice is well suited for bluegrass/roots, for sure. I think Pam Tillis and Brad Pasiley would be good as well.

    I agree with Steve about Sara Evans too.

  6. Has Travis Tritt ever done a Bluegrass album?

    I love his contribution to Patty’s Mountain Soul album, and saw him playing banjo on the All Star Bluegrass celebration program…the man seems like he has some serious roots to return to!

    And Leeann, I wholeheartedly agree about AJ, Brad, Pam and Clint.. Great choices, I can hear real grass-roots in all their voices!

    Not quite as sure about Garth and Toby, but they would be interesting as well.

    Dan, I’d also love to hear Tim McGraw’s real Country voice doing some real rootsy material.

    Great topic Kevin!

  7. I completely agree with Travis Tritt. I’ve heard him do some bluegrass stuff too and he sounds great with it. As for Garth, songs like “Don’t Cross The River” make me think his voice would be well suited to roots music. I actually hear that tone in his voice.

  8. Josh Turner…Always knew he had a great voice, but it wasn’t until I saw him open for Sara Evans singing songs like “Backwoods Boy” that I realized just how capital “C” COUNTRY he can be!…I think Josh would be a great choice too.

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