Alison Krauss

Alison Krauss
Krauss performing at the Rockygrass music festival on July 31 2005.
Krauss performing at the Rockygrass music festival on July 31 2005.
Background information
Born July 23 1971
Origin Illinois, United States
Genre(s) Bluegrass, Country
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, record producer
Years active 1987—present
Label(s) Rounder Records

Alison Krauss (born July 23, 1971 in Decatur, Illinois)[1] is an American bluegrass/country singer and fiddle player. Krauss entered the music industry at a young age, winning local contests by the age of ten and recording for the first time on her brother's album at fourteen. Krauss signed with Rounder Records in 1985 and released her first solo album at sixteen in 1987. Krauss was invited to join the band with which she still performs, Alison Krauss & Union Station (AKUS), and later released her first album with them as a group in 1989. Since then Krauss' contract has dictated that she rotate between releasing albums solo and with Union Station.

She has thus far released more than ten albums, appeared on numerous soundtracks, and has been credited with helping to usher in a new interest in bluegrass music in the United States. Her soundtrack performances have led to further popularity, including the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, an album also credited with raising American interest in bluegrass, and the Cold Mountain soundtrack, which led to her performance at the Academy Awards. During her career she has won 20 Grammy Awards—more than any other female artist and tied for seventh-most of all artists—along with numerous other awards.




Alison Krauss was born in Decatur, Illinois, but was raised in Champaign, Illinois.[2] She began studying classical violin at five years old but soon switched to bluegrass. Krauss said she first became involved with music because her "mother tried to find interesting things for [me] to do" and "wanted to get [me] involved in music, in addition to art and sports."[3] At age eight she started entering local talent contests, and at ten she had her own band. At twelve she won the Texas State Fiddle Championship, at thirteen the Winfield (Walnut Valley) Fiddle Championship and the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass in America named her the Most Promising Fiddler in the Midwest. Krauss first met Dan Tyminski around 1984 at a festival held by the Society. Interestingly, every current member of Union Station first met Krauss at these festivals.[4]

Krauss made her recording debut in 1985 on her brother Viktor Krauss' independent album, Different Strokes.[1] She performed with John Pennell, bassist and songwriter, from the age of twelve in a band called "Silver Rail". Pennell later formed Union Station[5] and Krauss joined at his invitation,[6] replacing their previous fiddler Andrea Zonn.[7] Pennell remains one of her favorite songwriters[8] and wrote some of her early work including the popular "Every Time You Say Goodbye."[9] Later that year she signed to Rounder Records and in 1987, at sixteen, her debut album Too Late to Cry was released[1] with Union Station as her backup band.[10]


1989–1991: Early career

Krauss' debut solo album was followed shortly by her first group album with Union Station in 1989, Two Highways.[11] Many traditional bluegrass numbers appeared on the album[12] along with a bluegrass interpretation of The Allman Brothers' "Midnight Rider."[13]Krauss' contract with Rounder required her to rotate between releasing a solo album and an album with Union Station[14] and she released the solo album I've Got That Old Feeling in 1990. It was her first album to rise onto Billboard charts, peaking in the top seventy five on the Country chart.[15] The album also was a notable point in Krauss' career as it earned her her first Grammy Award, the single "Steel Rails" was her first single tracked by Billboard,[16] and the title single "I've Got That Old Feeling" was the first song for which she recorded a music video.[17]


1992–1999: Rising success

Krauss' second Union Station album Everytime You Say Goodbye was released in 1992 and went on to win her second Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album of the year. Krauss then joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1993 at the age of 21.[11] She was the youngest cast member at the time and the first bluegrass artist to join the Opry in twenty nine years.[18] She also collaborated on a project with the Cox Family in 1994, a bluegrass album called I Know Who Holds Tomorrow.[19] Mandolin and guitar player Dan Tyminski replaced Tim Stafford in Union Station in 1994.[20]

Now That I've Found You: A Collection, a compilation of older releases and some covers of Krauss' favorite works by other artists, was released in 1995. Some of these covers include Bad Company's "Oh Atlanta", The Foundations' "Baby, Now That I've Found You", and The Beatles' "I Will".[21] The single "When You Say Nothing At All" reached the top five on the Country Billboard chart, the album peaked in the top fifteen on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart and sold two million copies to become Krauss' first double-platinum album. Krauss also was nominated for four Country Music Association Awards and won all of them.

  • Stay (file info) — play in browser (beta)
    • Alison Krauss' adult contemporary single "Stay" from the album Forget About It
    • Problems listening to the file? See media help.

So Long So Wrong, another Union Station album, was released in 1997 and won the Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album. Some critics said it was "untraditional" and "likely [to] change quite a few... Minds about bluegrass."[22] Included on the album is the track "It Doesn't Matter" which was featured in the second season premiere episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer[23] and was included on the Buffy soundtrack in 1999.[24]

Her next solo release in 1999, Forget About It, included her only track to appear on the Billboard Adult contemporary music chart, "Stay". The album was certified gold and charted within the top seventy five of the Billboard 200 and in the top five of the Country chart. In addition, the track "That Kind of Love" eventually became included in another episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.[25] Krauss was married to Pat Bergeson from 1997 to 2001[26] and they had one son, Sam, who was born in July 1999.[27]


2000–present: Current career

Alison Krauss & Union Station[28]
Name Role
Alison Krauss Lead vocals, fiddle
Barry Bales Bass
Ron Block Guitar, Banjo
Jerry Douglas Dobro
Dan Tyminski Guitar

Adam Steffey left Union Station in 1998 and renowned dobro player Jerry Douglas replaced him.[29] Douglas had provided studio back-up to Alison's records since 1987's Too Late To Cry. Krauss thought highly of his abilities, going so far as to introduce Douglas on their album, Live, as "the greatest dobro player the world has ever known."[30] Their next album, New Favorite, was released on August 14, 2001.[31] The album went on to win the Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album, the single "The Lucky One" winning a Grammy as well. New Favorite was followed up by the double platinum double album Live in 2002 and a release of a DVD of the same live performance in 2003. Both the album and the DVD were recorded during a performance at The Louisville Palace.[32]

Lonely Runs Both Ways was released in 2004 and eventually became another Alison Krauss & Union Station gold certified album. Ron Block described Lonely Runs Both Ways as "pretty much... what we've always done" in terms of song selection and the style in which those songs were recorded.[33] Krauss, on the other hand, believes the group "was probably the most unprepared we've ever been" for the album and that songs were chosen as needed rather than planned beforehand.[3] She also performed a duet with Brad Paisley on his album Mud on the Tires in the single "Whiskey Lullaby". The single was quite successful, ranking in the top fifty of the Billboard Hot 100, the top five of the Hot Country Songs, and won the Country Music Association Awards for "Best Musical Event" and "Best Music Video" of the year.


Other work

Krauss has made multiple guest appearances on other records with lead vocals, harmony vocals, or fiddle playing. She has contributed to numerous motion picture soundtracks, perhaps most notably the soundtrack O Brother, Where Art Thou? in 2000.[34] She and co-vocalist Dan Tyminski contributed multiple tracks to the soundtrack, including "I'll Fly Away" (with Gillian Welch), "Down in the River to Pray", and "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow." In the film, Tyminski's vocals on Man of Constant Sorrow became the singing voice of George Clooney.[2][35] The soundtrack sold over seven million copies and won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 2002.[36] The unexpected success of the album has been partially credited, as with Krauss herself,[37][38] with bringing a new interest in bluegrass to the United States.[39] She has said, however, that she believes Americans already liked bluegrass and other less-heard musical genres, and that the film merely provided easy exposure to the music.[40] Krauss did not appear in the movie at her own request as she was nine months pregnant during its filming.[41]

  • Down to the River to Pray (file info) — play in browser (beta)
    • Alison Krauss sings "Down to the River to Pray" on the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack
    • Problems listening to the file? See media help.

Other soundtracks for which Krauss has performed include Twister, The Prince of Egypt,[42] Eight Crazy Nights, Mona Lisa Smile, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Bambi II and Cold Mountain.[43] The Cold Mountain song "The Scarlet Tide" by T-Bone Burnett and Elvis Costello was nominated for an Academy Award and Krauss performed the song at the 76th Academy Awards with Costello and Burnett.[44] Krauss also worked as a producer for Nickel Creek on their debut self-titled album in 2000 and the follow-up This Side in 2002 which won Krauss her first Grammy as a music producer.


Reception and influences

Alison Krauss' earliest musical experience was as an instrumentalist, though her style her grown to focus more on her vocals[11] with a band providing most of the instrumentation. Musicians she enjoys include Lou Gramm of Foreigner, Paul Rodgers of Bad Company, and AC/DC.[45][46][47] Some credit Krauss and Union Station, at least partially, with a recent revival of interest in bluegrass music in the United States.[37][38] Despite being together for nearly two decades and winning numerous awards Krauss said the group was "just beginning right now" (in 2002) because "in spite of all the great things that have happened for the band, [she] feel[s] musically it's just really beginning."[40] Although Krauss rotates between solo releases and works with the band she has said there is no difference in her involvement between the two.[41]

As a group AKUS have been called "American favourites", "world-beaters",[48] and "the tightest band around".[49] While they have been successful as a group, many reviews note Krauss still "remains the undisputed star and rock-solid foundation" and have described her as the "band's focus"[50] with an "angelic"[49] voice that "flows like honey".[50] Krauss' work has been compared to the Cox Family, Bill Monroe, and Del McCoury and has in turn been credited with influencing various "Newgrass" artists including Nickel Creek, which she acted as record producer for on two of their albums.[51] In addition to her work with Nickel Creek, Krauss has acted as producer to the Cox Family, Reba McEntire,[52] and Alan Jackson.[53] Adam Sweeting of The Guardian has said Krauss and Union Station are "superb when they stick to hoedowns and hillbilly music, but much less convincing when they lurch towards the middle of the road"[54] and Blender magazine has said the "flavorless repertoire [Krauss] sings... steers her toward Lite FM".[55] In addition, Q magazine and The Onion AV Club have said their newer releases are "pretty much the usual" and although Krauss is generally "adventurous" these recent releases contain nothing to "alienate the masses".[56]


Voice, themes, and musical style

Krauss generally sings as a soprano[57] that has been described as "angelic".[49] She has said her musical influences include J. D. Crowe, Ricky Skaggs, and Tony Rice.[58] Many of her songs are described as sad[59] and are often about love, especially lost love. Krauss herself has said of her song selection that she looks for "tunes that [she] can relate to" and "if they make you feel like crap, you oughta do 'em." Though she has a close involvement with her group and a long career in music she rarely performs music she has written herself. She has also described her general approach to constructing an album as starting with a single song and selecting other tracks based on the first to give the final album a somewhat consistent theme and mood.[41][60] She most commonly performs in the bluegrass and country genres, though she has had a song tracked on adult contemporary charts, has worked with rock artists such as Phish[11] and Sting,[44] and is sometimes said to stray into pop music.[61][7]


Music videos

Krauss did not think she would make music videos at the beginning of her career, and after recording her first she was convinced it was bad enough she would never do another. Nonetheless, Krauss has gone on to make further videos. The first videos she saw were from various bluegrass artists and Dan Tyminski has noted the video for Thriller was very popular when she was first exposed to music videos. She has made suggestions on the style or theme to some videos, though she tends to leave such decisions up to the director of the particular video. The group chooses directors by seeking out people who have previously directed videos bandmembers have enjoyed. The director for a video to "If I Didn't Know Any Better" from Lonely Runs Both Ways, for example, was selected because Krauss enjoyed work he had done with Def Leppard and Krauss wondered what he could do with their music. While style decisions are generally left to the various directors of the videos, many —including for "Restless", "Goodbye is All We Have", "New Favorite", and "If I Didn't Know Any Better"—follow a pattern. In all of these videos Krauss walks, sometimes interacting with other people, while the rest of the band follows her.[4][5]



Krauss has said she used to dislike working in the studio where she had to play the same song repeatedly, but has come to like studio work roughly the same as live stage performances. Her own favorite concert experiences include watching three Foreigner concerts during a single tour, a Dolly Parton concert, and a Larry Sparks concert.[62] Alison Krauss appeared on Austin City Limits in 1992 and opened the show in 1995 with Union Station.[63] The New Favorite tour, after AKUS' album of the same name, was planned to start September 12, 2001 in Cincinnati, Ohio, but was pushed back to September 28 in Savannah, Georgia following the September 11 terrorist attacks.[64] Krauss also took part in the Down from the Mountain tour in 2002 which featured many artists from the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack and was named after a documentary on the making of said soundtrack.[65][66] Down from the Mountain was followed by the Great High Mountain Tour which was comprised of musicians from both O Brother and Cold Mountain, including Alison Krauss.[5] She has also given several notable smaller performances including at Carnegie Hall (with the Grand Ole Opry),[67] on Lifetime Television in a concert of female performers,[68] on the radio show Prairie Home Companion[69] where she sang two songs not previously recorded on any of her albums,[70] and a performance at the White House attended by then-President Bill Clinton and then-Vice President Al Gore.[71]



Alison Krauss has won a record twenty Grammy Awards[72] over the course of her career as a solo artist, a group with Union Station, and a record producer. This is more than any other female artist and tied for seventh most won by any artist overall.[73] She overtook Aretha Franklin for the most female wins at the 46th Grammy Awards where Krauss won three, bringing her total at the time to seventeen (Franklin won her sixteenth that night), and performed with Sarah McLachlan.[74] The Recording Academy (which presents the Grammy Awards) presented her with a special musical achievement honor in 2005.[75] She has also won seven Country Music Association Awards,[76] fifteen International Bluegrass Music Association Awards,[77] and two Gospel Music Association Awards.[78]



The following is a summary of Alison Krauss' albums, singles, and their respective performances on major music charts.[15][16][79][80]



Year Album US US Country US Bluegrass RIAA certification
1987 Too Late to Cry - - - -
1989 Two Highways - - - -
1990 I've Got That Old Feeling - 61 - -
1992 Every Time You Say Goodbye - - - -
1994 I Know Who Holds Tomorrow - - - -
1995 Now That I've Found You: A Collection 13 2 - Double Platinum
1997 So Long So Wrong - - - Gold
1999 Forget About It 60 5 - Gold
2001 New Favorite 35 3 2 Gold
2002 Live 36 9 1 Double Platinum
2004 Lonely Runs Both Ways 29 6 1 Gold


Year Single Album US US Country US AC RIAA certification
1990 "Steel Rails" I've Got That Old Feeling - 73 - -
1995 "When You Say Nothing At All" Now That I've Found You 53 3 - -
1995 "Baby, Now That I've Found You" Now That I've Found You - 49 - -
1999 "Forget About It" Forget About It - 67 - -
1999 "Stay" Forget About It - - 28 -
2002 "The Lucky One" New Favorite - 46 - -
2004 "Restless" Lonely Runs Both Ways - 36 - -
2004 "Whiskey Lullaby" (w/Brad Paisley) Mud on the Tires 41 3 - Platinum
2006 "Missing You" (w/John Waite) Downtown: Journey of a Heart - 43 - -


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  4. 4.0 4.1 Interview with Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski for The Collection on Great American Country, originally broadcast on June 28 2006. Retrieved June 29 2006.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Interview with Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski on GAC Nights for Great American Country originally broadcast on June 27 2006. Retrieved June 28 2006.
  6. UCSB Arts & Lectures and Sings Like Hell present the acclaimed Americana group Alison Krauss + Union Station at the Arlington Theatre by Susan Gwynne for UCSB Arts & Lectures October 28 2003. Retrieved June 7 2006.
  7. 7.0 7.1 MUSIC; Country, With Twang and Pop for the New York Times by Robbie Wolvier on April 30 2000. Retrieved July 8 2006.
  8. New Favorite by Kerry Dexter for Dirty Linen #102 October/November 2002. Retrieved June 7 2006.
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  22. So Long, So Wrong review by George Graham. "The Graham Weekly Album Review #1065" as broadcast on WVIA-FM April 16 1997. Retrieved June 12 2006.
  23. "When She Was Bad", originally released September 15 1997. Twentieth Century Fox and Joss Whedon.
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  32. Live DVD on Amazon. Retrieved June 12 2006.
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  38. 38.0 38.1 Interview on NPR Morning Edition with Bob Edwards on February 15 2002. Hosted here. Retrieved July 10 2006.
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  54. Review of Lonely Runs Both Ways for The Guardian by Adam Sweeting on November 19 2004. Retrieved June 15 2006.
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  56. Review hosted on Metacritic originally from Q Magazine Sept. 2001 and The Onion AV Club. Retrieved June 15 2006.
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  58. New Favorite by Kerry Dexter from Dirty Linen #102 Oct/Nov 02. Retrieved June 29 2006.
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  61. Review of New Favorite for The Graham Weekly Album Review #1250 by George Graham as broadcast on WVIA-FM 8/18/2001. Retrieved July 8 2006.
  62. Interview with Krauss from the Alison Krauss + Union Station: Live DVD by Rounder Records released in 2003.
  63. Alison Krauss on Austin City Limits from PBS from 1996. Retrieved June 27 2006.
  64. COUNTRY BEAT: Alison Krauss, Wynonna Judd, Dolly Parton ... for on September 17 2001. Retrieved June 25 2006.
  65. Krauss, Loveless Among Down From The Mountain Headliners for on October 17 2001. Retrieved June 25 2006.
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  67. Carnegie Hall performance at Great American Country March 1 2006. Retrieved June 26 2006.
  68. AKUS Fall television details on Shorefire on October 23 2003. Retrieved June 26 2006.
  69. Program details from Prairie Home Companion on May 1 2006. Retrieved June 26 2006.
  70. FAQ on PHC songs from Retrieved June 26 2006.
  71. Alison Krauss at the White House By Marian Leighton Levy at Rounder Records May 18 1995. Retrieved June 29 2006.
  72. Alison Krauss' Grammys from Retrieved June 5 2006. (remove quotation marks from around her name)
  73. Alison Krauss & Union Station Win Three Trophies at Grammy's for Proper Music Distribution on 2/20/06. Retrieved June 5 2006.
  74. ROUNDER RECORDING ARTIST BECOMES GRAMMY'S MOST-HONORED FEMALE MUSICIAN on Shorefire and the Los Angeles Times by Jen Chapin and Robert Hilburn on February 9, 2004.
  75. Recording Academy Honors Krauss, Scruggs, McGraw and the Winans for by Edward Morris on 11/8/05. Retrieved June 7 2006.
  76. Alison Krauss's CMA Awards from Retrieved June 5 2006.
  77. Past International Bluegrass Music Association Awards Recipients for Retrieved June 5 2006.
  78. Homepage of the Gospel Music Association Awards. Retrieved June 5 2006.
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  80. Single Chart History performance for Brad Paisley by Billboard. Retrieved June 4 2006.

External links

Krauss, Alison
American musical artist
July 23, 1971
Decatur, Illinois
Retrieved from "http://localhost../../../art/a/s/5.html"

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