There have been some remarkable vocal performers in the history of country music. The most famous have been on the male side, where some of the most distinctive voices can be heard: from the yodels of Hank Williams and Dwight Yoakam to the expressive baritone of George Jones and Randy Travis. Next to their male colleagues, we can also list the legendary Tammy Wynette, with her vulnerable tremor, or the wonderfully twangy and confident Reba McIntyre. It is the “distinctive” quality that makes country vocals such a special contribution to American music. A powerhouse vocal performance is not country, though I might make an exception for Carrie Underwood.
Ashley Monroe is an excellent case in point. She is one of my favorite singer-songwriters to emerge in the last ten years, and she has made some influential friends with Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton. But she is more than a great songwriter. She is also an excellent vocalist, projecting both confidence and vulnerability. Her twang is effortless. She has only received modest success in regard to radio play, yet she is very well-known and beloved throughout Nashville and, indeed, the whole country. Her album, Like a Rose, has been a great success, hailed by both critics and average country fans alike. And there is even a beautiful music video for the title track.
Among her performances at the Opry, I warmly recommend these two:
“Has Anybody Ever Told You,” Ashley Monroe
“Two Weeks Late,” Ashley Monroe
Image: Ashley Monroe (source: Farce the Music, retrieved 22-April-2014)