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Celebrities Gossip - country legend alison krauss talks meeting adele harmonising with idol dolly parton and new album windy city

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Country legend alison krauss talks meeting adele harmonising with idol dolly parton and new album windy city

The Krauss soprano, an instrument of rare and authentic beauty, has long had that effect on people.
Alison Krauss
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Grammy judges have acknowledged country singer Alison Krauss’ efforts with 27 awards… more than any other singer
Ever since she appeared as a teenager, fiddle in hand, singing and playing bluegrass with a combination of sweet serenity and heartfelt intensity, she’s been a focus of admiration.
Adele has declared her “obsession” with this American force of nature while Grammy judges have acknowledged her efforts with 27 awards . . . the most for any singer.
Much of Alison’s success has come with her crack band, Union Station, but let’s not forget other triumphs.
Alison Krauss
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Somebody once said they’d be disappointed if the angels in heaven didn’t sound like Alison Krauss, yet the singer admits she doesn’t take enough care of her voice
She made key contributions to the garlanded O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack . . . solo as well as sublime harmonies with Emmylou Harris and Gillian Welch.
And who can forget her fearless Raising Sand collaboration with Led Zeppelin powerhouse Robert Plant?
Yet the owner of “that voice” admits: “I don’t take enough care of it. I don’t get enough sleep and I probably need to be more mindful of myself.”
If you listen to her new album Windy City, a faultless collection of yearning country songs, mostly from the Fifties and Sixties, this confession will come as something of a surprise.
She hits the notes with unerring precision all the way from Brenda Lee’s Losing You to melancholic closer You Don’t Know Me.
I’m meeting Alison in a discreet corner of a swish hotel not far from the bustle of London’s Oxford Street.
Alison Krauss
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Aged 45, Alison is back with her first solo record in 18 years
She’s feeling tired from her transatlantic travels, and cold, but as she snuggles behind a fur-lined black leather jacket, she warms to the task of talking to SFTW.
Tall, slim with a cloud of blonde curls, the 45-year-old proves an engaging companion, clearly thrilled with her first solo record in 18 years.
There’s a wistful, impossibly romantic quality to many of the performances, a result, Alison believes, of songs being written before she was born.
“When I think of the Sixties, I have my own idealistic impression. I’m also fascinated by the look of that time,” she says.
Alison Krauss
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There’s a wistful, impossibly romantic quality to many of the performances on the album
Alison’s quick to praise the album’s esteemed producer, Buddy Cannon, a Nashville mainstay who’s worked with legends such as Willie Nelson, George Jones and Merle Haggard as well as contemporary country hit maker Kenny Chesney.
“I really wanted to work with him,” she says of Cannon. “I felt this guy really makes me want to do a good job.
“He was like a muse. How many people get a producer and their muse in the same breath?”
With all her accolades, you’d imagine that Alison, like Cannon, would be a key player in Tennessee’s “Music City” community.
But she says of Nashville: “Well I’m not really in it. I just kind of live my life. I’m a little bit of a hermit and I just do my normal thing. Buddy is probably the most in that environment of anybody I know.”
Ed Sheeran
GETTY IMAGES
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Currently the new album is only being kept off the top of the UK charts by three Ed Sheeran albums and Rag ‘n’ Bone Man
As I write, Windy City is only being kept off the top of the UK charts by THREE Ed Sheeran albums (isn’t that a bit selfish, Ed?) and Rag ’n’ Bone Man.
It’s been quite a while since her last album, 2011’s Paper Airplane with Union Station, but Alison explains that the new record, first started in 2013, “took forever” because of vocal problems.
“I get this tightness,” she says in her engaging drawl. “It’s called dysphonia, a fancy name for hoarse. The muscles around your voice box tighten up and that drove me crazy.
“We had to wait it out. We wouldn’t keep anything that had any sign of it on the record.
Alison Krauss
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The album’s esteemed producer, Buddy Cannon, became a muse to Alison
“I remember being so embarrassed by the way I sang sometimes. I would leave the studio thinking, ‘They’re probably saying what the heck happened to her?’ We were in the middle of a vocal one day and I said, ‘That’s it, I’m done. I’m going to call this voice teacher.’
“I’d seen his name for years . . .  Ron Browning. So I went to see him and he told me what was wrong within the first three minutes of me standing in front of him. He’s a genius.”
Alison drew some comfort from not being the only singer to suffer this way. “A lot of people have had it happen . . . Linda Thompson, Shania Twain and Marianne Faithfull,” she says.
It was learning to clear her mind to cope with the emotion in the songs that helped her get through the ordeal.
Windy City
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Much of Alison’s success in recent years has come with her crack band, Union Station, but after an 18-year break she’s back with a solo albun
On Windy City, she never pulls her punches. If there’s a theme, it’s that familiar country music infatuation with lost love and longing.
The title track, first performed by The Osborne Brothers, deals with the breakdown of a relationship in the stressful glare of big city lights — in this case Chicago but it could be anywhere.
Alison Krauss
GETTY IMAGES
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If the new album has a theme,  it’s that familiar country music infatuation with lost love and longing
Alison says: “I like Windy City because she doesn’t blame what’s happening on him but on the atmosphere of the place. They came from a simple life.”
On a more general note, she adds: “I only want to sing things that feel true to me and I’ve always sung songs of longing. I think all of them (on Windy City) have that.”
Talking to Alison, thoughts about her voice and other artists she admires, all of whom are blessed with a similar gift, take centre stage.
One of her new tracks is a gorgeous reading of Gentle On My Mind, a song made famous in the Sixties by the Rhinestone Cowboy himself, Glen Campbell.
Dolly Parton
GETTY IMAGES
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One of Alison’s biggest heroines is Dolly Parton, after having sang harmonies on various Dolly records
Alison can’t help drawing my attention to a YouTube clip of his fabulous duet with Stevie Wonder on Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ In The Wind.
“You’re thinking, ‘Don’t come in, Glen, how can you match Stevie?’ but when he does, he’s absolutely amazing.”
She enthuses about two late greats, James Brown and Pavarotti, singing It’s A Man’s World together backed by a full orchestra and asks me to find a spine-tingling old recording of a chain gang singing the spiritual Berta, Berta as they hew rocks.
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Katie Price covers Dolly Parton classic 9 to 5 on Lip Sync Battle
Next we talk about one of Alison’s great heroines, the irrepressible Dolly Parton, a singer treasured across the globe.
For years, she sang harmonies on various Dolly records and says: “She’s an inspiration in every possible way. I got to spend a little bit of time with her when I was younger, not a lot but enough.
“There’s a producer (Steve Buckingham) who would call me to work on her records and I was on every one he made with her and this went on for about 20 years.
“I thought, ‘Man, if I get to be around this person, I will be a better person.’
Alison Krauss
GETTY IMAGES - WIREIMAGE
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Alison saw Dolly perform at The White House, and described her as a gift to the world
“What she does, what her music is for, is all about encouragement and she embodies that in every way.
“I’ve been around her when nobody’s looking and she is so kind to every last person. Everyone in her presence can’t stop grinning from ear to ear.
“For someone to be that talented and that beautiful, it’s her heart that really is the prize, isn’t it?
“I remember being at an event at The White House. When they announced Dolly, a whole hush came over the crowd and then the place went crazy. She’s a gift to the world.”
Adele
AP:ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Adele is a huge fan of Alison Krauss, and invited the country singer to see her concert in Nashville
And of course, we have to talk about uber Krauss fan Adele. So when did Alison become aware of her very high-profile admirer?
“People were sending me texts but I had no real idea until I went to see her,” she replies. “I had a call inviting us to the show in Nashville. I took my parents and my son.
“When I met Adele, she was just as people had told me . . .  sweet, generous, hilarious. It was unbelievable.
“To feel like you knew somebody that well by the end of the night was amazing.  I loved her. She couldn’t have honoured me more.”
Alison Krauss
AP:ASSOCIATED PRESS
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She may only just be releasing  an album but Alison says she has a  bunch of songs on her desk that may become her next record with Union Station
Lastly, we return to the project that gave Alison many new fans in the UK . . . the Raising Sand album and tour with Robert Plant — and the possibility of a Part Two.
“Robert’s so much fun,” she says. “If I could choose one word for him, it would be generous.
“We still talk about doing it again. Whether or not we’ll figure it out, I don’t know but I look back on that time very fondly. It was a blast.
“When you sing lots of harmony, there’s a predictability but he never sang the same thing twice! I was like, ‘Whatever you do, make sure I can see you because I’m hanging on. I’m following you because you’re twisting it up.’”
Alison says she has a bunch of songs on her desk that might well become her next record with Union Station.
Whatever she does, it’s sure to be graced by a voice straight from heaven.

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