Simply put, Alice Gerrard is a talent of legendary status. In a career spanning some 50 years, she has known, learned from, and performed with many of the old-time and bluegrass greats and has in turn earned worldwide respect for her own important contributions to the music.
Alice is particularly known for her groundbreaking collaboration with Appalachian singer Hazel Dickens during the 1960s and ’70s. The duo produced four classic LPs (recently reissued by Rounder on CD) and influenced scores of young women singers — even The Judds acknowledge Hazel and Alice as an important early inspiration.
Alice four solo albums, Pieces of My Heart, and Calling Me Home, and Bittersweet (produced by Laurie Lewis), were released to critical acclaim in Billboard, Bluegrass Unlimited, New Country, and other publications. These superb recordings showcase Alice’s many talents: her compelling, eclectic songwriting; her powerful, hard-edged vocals; and her instrumental mastery on rhythm guitar, banjo, and old-time fiddle. Her 2015 album, Follow the Music (produced by Mike Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger) was nominated for a 2015 Grammy. Her most recent albums in 2016 and 2017 are collaborations: Wonderful World Outside with the Piedmont Melody Makers and Tear Down the Fences with Kay Justice. In 2018 she issued some old practice tapes of Hazel and herself working on songs. These had never actually been recorded before. They are on the Free Dirt label and also available through this website: Sing Me Back Home: The DC Tapes 1965-1969.
Alice has appeared on more than 20 recordings, including projects with many traditional musicians such as Tommy Jarrell, Enoch Rutherford, Otis Burris, Luther Davis and Matokie Slaughter; with Tom Sauber and Brad Leftwich as Tom, Brad & Alice, with the Harmony Sisters, the Herald Angels, Beverly Smith, and with Anna R-g and Elizabeth LaPrelle. With her in-depth knowledge of mountain music, she has produced or written liner notes for a dozen more. She also co-produced and appeared in two documentary films and is the subject of a work in progress: You Gave Me a Song - https://bluegrasstoday.com/you-gave-me-a-song-the-life-and-music-of-alice-gerrard/
A tireless advocate of traditional music, Alice has won numerous honors, including an International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Distinguished Achievement Award, a Virginia Arts Commission Award, the North Carolina Folklore Society’s Tommy Jarrell Award, and an Indy Award. In 2017 Alice was inducted into the IBMA Hall of Fame along with Hazel Dickens. A film about her life and music ("You Gave Me a Song") has been completed and was shown at the Full Frame Festival in Durham, NC in April.
In 1987 Alice founded The Old-Time Herald and the Old-Time Music Group, a non-profit organization that oversees publication of The Old-Time Herald. Alice served as editor-in-chief of The Old-Time Herald from 1987 till 2003. She continues to perform solo and with The Piedmont Melody Makers, Kay Justice, the Herald Angels Band, and occasionally with Beverly Smith and Tom Sauber and Brad Leftwich.
Photo Credit: Irene Young | ireneyoungfoto.com