Rhonda Vincent

Sunday Mornin' Singin' Live – 2012 (Upper Management)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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Considering that her career began at the age of three as part of her family's Sally Mountain Show gospel broadcasts on radio and television in her native Missouri, and that songs of faith and spirituality have been a prominent part of her stage shows and recordings in her past decade-plus as the reigning Queen of Bluegrass, it's something of a surprise that it's taken Rhonda Vincent until now to come out with an all-gospel release.

Backed up by her longtime band, The Rage, she returns to the same Missouri church of her youth for a live album (her second) featuring a mixture material of new and old.

The 16 songs on "Sunday Mornin' Singin'" include traditional classics such as Old Rugged Cross and Just As I Am, an unplanned impromptu selection from the church's songbook, along with material from contemporary writers like Larry Sparks (Where We'll Never Say Farewell), Carl Jackson (Homecoming) and Becky Buller (Fishers of Men). And, though not generally known as a songwriter, His Promised Land was co-written by Vincent with Nashville tunesmith Lisa Shaffer.

Whether the music is secular or spiritual, Rhonda Vincent is unquestionably among the most accomplished and dynamic stage performers in the Americana realm, and that professionalism comes through clearly in the recording and production. Part of that professionalism is that she consistently hires top-notch musicians to back her, and this version of The Rage (Hunter Berry, fiddle; Brent Burke, Dobro; Mickey Harris, bass; Ben Helson, guitar; Aaron McDaris banjo) is as good as she's had. Fine instrumentalists all, and the trios and quartets are well done - what one would expect from someone who figures yearly in Grammy and IBMA award discussion.