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Rhonda Vincent keeps good thing going

By Jeffrey B. Remz, January 2008

The title of Rhonda Vincent's new batch of music is "Good Thing Going." The song is an ode to her husband, Herb, and their longstanding marriage, but given the context of Vincent's stellar bluegrass career, one could use the CD title for that as well.

But that doesn't mean that Vincent just paints by the numbers and goes for the tried and true to keep her career moving in the right direction either. Not now at least.

One key difference is that the Missouri native did a lot of writing for the disc - writing or co-writing 5 of the 12 songs, which she produced along with brother Darrin.

"It wasn't expected," says Vincent in a December interview several weeks before the release of the new CD on Rounder. "I pretty much do things by necessity and by nature - how does it feel? Does it feel like I need this? Do I need that? We kind of create the music the same way."

"I think I wrote three songs on 'All American Bluegrass Girl' (Vincent's 2006 disc).

"We just start (with) the songs," says Vincent. "Songs that we write or songs that we have. We didn't know how they were all going to piece together. We had six, seven, eight, maybe nine songs. When it gets down to the day and the musicians are in the studio, now we have to decide. We cut the songs."

"Then I sit back and say what is the theme. With 'All American Bluegrass Girl', I already had a theme - God and country."

"On the first sessions we did, they were all love songs - 'I Gotta Start Somewhere', 'I Will See You Again'. These are kind of your easy listening type songs."

Vincent says she remembers also thinking "we've got to get bluegrass on here, hard core straight-ahead bluegrass."

"Each time we record, we try to find something unique...You want to make it as good or better, but I always take it one step further...There are parameters - we know we're going to do straight-ahead bluegrass."

One twist on "Good Thing Going" is that country star Keith Urban sings on the disc, contributing backing vocals on the traditional song, "The Water Is Wide."

But having Urban sing wasn't part of the original plan. "I recorded it for 'All American Bluegrass Girl'," Vincent says. "It didn't feel right. It didn't work. This it seems is like more of a listening album."

"I just heard his voice on there. I (mentioned) him to Darrin (he now has a career going as a duo of Dailey & Vincent). I'm hearing him doing that."

Asking Urban to sing on the disc was not totally out of left field. "I've been to his concerts," says Vincent. 'I've visited with him on several occasions." Vincent says her daughter, Tensel, "is a big fan of his."

"I just contacted his management and told them I would love for Keith to sing on this song. They said he's in Australia."

That left Vincent wondering if the idea was going to work. But Urban's management contacted him, and Vincent was told, "He said he wants to do it. The rest was just finding a date."

Despite that, the recording "almost didn't happen," recalls Vincent, a lively, upbeat and friendly sort.

The thinking by Rounder and Vincent was that Urban would come in and do his vocals in September. The only problem was that Urban thought he was supposed to show up a month later. "They said, 'what are you talking about?'"

"Rounder called back and said 'we're going to make this work, and we're going to get Keith in there. It's all going to work'."

And Urban did show up. "He literally took a break from his recording (Urban was working on a few songs for his greatest hits package that came out in November) and worked on mine. I really appreciate it."

One of the most touching songs is "I Give All My Love to You," a duet with iiird Tyme Out's ace vocalist Russell Moore.

Vincent wrote the song for Julia Mottesheard, her right hand woman, who also is her fan club president among other duties. Despite Mottesheard saying she would never find the right man, she did, a coal miner from West Virginia.

"She's a dear friend, a very special lady," says Vincent. The two met after a Vincent show in Chambersberg, Pa. in 1996.

The feeling must have been mutual because Mottesheard asked her friend to be the wedding planner.

"Like she didn't have anything else to do," says Mottesheard jokingly in a phone interview on her way to Nashville to see Vincent perform on the Opry. "She had nothing to do with her spare time. There was no doubt about it. We've been best friends for quite a few years."

Vincent says during wedding planning last year, "She said, 'I want you to sing, and I want you to be the matron of honor'. I said 'do you have a song?'

Mottesheard told her, "'We're not just not finding the song that we want', to which Vincent replied, "Well we're going to need a song."

"I just went and picked up a piece of paper. She (had) said 'I'm not just going to ever find anybody'. I started writing down these thoughts, things she'd told me."

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