George and Tammy, Conway and Loretta, Dolly and Porter. Country history is jam packed with classic tandems like these that made memorable and long-lasting music over the decades. Think of “Golden Ring” by George Jones and Tammy Wynette, “After the Fire Is Gone” by Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn or Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner joining forces for “The Last Thing on My Mind.” They all mark an important chapter in the overall country music story.
Now, you can add one more duet team to the roster: bluegrass star Rhonda Vincent and deep-voiced country traditionalist Daryle Singletary. The two have often performed together and are uniting their talents for an album of country duets, “American Grandstand,” set for release July 7. The album features the title track, written by Vincent, plus the lead single “One” along with their covers of duet classics like “Golden Ring,” “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man” and others.
Vincent and Singletary go back nearly 25 years to the latter’s debut album, where Vincent sang backup for him. Together, they have shared the stage at various bluegrass and country festivals, the Grand Ole Opry and other venues. They also have a common bond with the great duets that came before them, as each member has enjoyed a successful solo career. Singletary is best known for the hits “I Let Her Lie” and “Amen Kind of Love.” Vincent, dubbed the “New Queen of Bluegrass,” has won several International Bluegrass Music Association awards, including eight Female Vocalist of the Year honors, and been nominated for a number of Grammy awards.
Sports and Entertainment Nashville sat down with the duo to talk about the record and their unmistakable duet chemistry.
PLANTING THE SEED
RHONDA VINCENT: “I’ve been talking to him forever about doing this project (laughs).”
DARYLE SINGLETARY: “Rhonda actually sang on my first record for the Giant label in 1994. In 2002, I did a cover record and Rhonda came in and sang ‘After the Fire Is Gone’ with me. I followed it up with another cover record and Rhonda and I sang ‘We’re Gonna Hold On.’ And then in 2014, Rhonda invited me to join her on a CD project.”
RS: “I did an album [“Only Me”] with six country songs and six bluegrass songs. I had Daryle come in and sing on the bluegrass side. We did a bluegrass version of ‘We Must Have Been Out of Our Minds.’”
DS: “What kind of got the seed planted for this was that Rhonda and I would show up at the same shows and we were always asked to get up as a duet, everywhere we went. So we just felt that it was fitting to do an entire CD with duets on it.”
RV: “Another thing is that there is no one out here doing this. To me, there is a void. You don’t really hear a lot of duets anymore. For Daryle and myself, it’s like breathing to us. We challenge each other and you don’t find that every day. I think this whole project is a musical conversation. It almost became a duel, I guess you’d say. We always felt that communication thing.”
DS: “We make a good duet because both of us appreciate family harmony. Obviously, we appreciate the duet partners who paved the way for a project like this. That was our whole thinking with this. We want to pay tribute to those artists. And just our love for the music, too. We are both very passionate about the music. That’s what allows us to do this.”
RV: “Plus, Daryle is an artist who has never compromised his style.”
DS: “Rhonda never has, either, and that’s another thing. We both have integrity. I think if you do something outside the realm of what’s in your heart, you’re compromising that integrity.”
RV: “People can tell when you’re chasing a trend.”
CUTTING THE SONGS
DS: “We went in there and just sang. There are some where we accidentally did some things different than the original but as we play it for people, we mention it and nobody can tell the difference. It sounds so natural.”
RV: “We took a few liberties with ‘Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man,’ but again, when you play it for people, they don’t notice it at first. I wrote ‘American Grandstand’ at the eleventh hour, and I had [originally] written it in the first person. Then, we started singing it together, so that one had to be tweaked a little. But that’s about the only one. Also, there’s nothing that we sing on this record that we couldn’t do live. We wouldn’t have recorded them otherwise. That is so exciting to be able to do that.”
RV: “You keep hearing that there isn’t an audience anymore for duets and traditional country music. But it’s not true. I did an album with Gene Watson [“Your Money and My Good Looks”] and that’s when I discovered that there is an audience.”
DS: “We know that there is an audience there because we see it all the time on our social media. That has been the biggest help for artists like us. It used to be that they didn’t hear you on the radio and so they thought you were done. Now, people can keep up with you.”
RV: “We have been doing some shows together. We brought Daryle in to some of the bluegrass festivals and it was great.”
DS: “The word is starting to get out now. Even before the release, we were getting orders for the record. We’re starting to get more calls about doing shows together.”