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Alison Krauss Biography

Home > Music > K > Krauss, Alison > Biography

Born: 1971/07/23
Birth Place: Decatur, Illinois, USA
Years Active: 1984–present
Genres: Country, Folk, Pop, Rock, Seasonal, Soundtracks

Alison Krauss (born July 23, 1971) is an American bluegrass-country singer, songwriter and fiddler. She entered the music industry at an early age, winning local contests by the age of ten and recording for the first time at fourteen. She signed with Rounder Records in 1985 and released her first solo album in 1987. She was invited to join the band with which she still performs, Alison Krauss and Union Station in 1989.

Krauss made her recording debut in 1985 on the independent album, “Different Strokes,” featuring her brother Viktor, Swamp Weiss and Jim Hoiles. From the age of 12 she performed with bassist and songwriter John Pennell in a band called “Silver Rail.” Pennell later formed Union Station, and Krauss joined at his invitation, replacing their previous fiddler Andrea Zonn.

Later that year she signed to Rounder Records, and in 1987, at 16, she released her debut album “Too Late to Cry” with Union Station as her backup band.

Krauss' debut album was followed shortly by her first group album with Union Station in 1989 “Two Highways.” The album includes the traditional tunes, “Wild Bill Jones” and “Beaumont Rag,” along with a bluegrass interpretation of The Allman Brothers' “Midnight Rider.”

Krauss' contract with Rounder required her to alternate between releasing a solo album and an album with Union Station, and she released the solo album “I've Got That Old Feeling” in 1990. It was her first album to impact the Billboard charts, peaking in the Top 75 on the Country Albums chart. The album also was a notable point in her career as she earned her first Grammy Award, the single “Steel Rails” was her first single tracked by Billboard, and the title single “I've Got That Old Feeling” was the first song for which she recorded a music video.

Krauss' second Union Station album “Everytime You Say Goodbye” was released in 1992, and went on to win her the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album of the year. It reached #75 on the Billboard Country Albums chart.

She then joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1993 at the age of 21. She was the youngest cast member at the time, and the first bluegrass artist to join the Opry in twenty-nine years. She also collaborated on a project with the Cox Family in 1994, a bluegrass album called “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow.” In 1994 Krauss recorded with the band Shenandoah on its single “Somewhere in the Vicinity of the Heart,” which brought her to the Billboard Country Top Ten for the first time. Also in 1994, Krauss collaborated with Suzy Bogguss, Kathy Mattea, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash to contribute “Teach Your Children“ to the AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Country produced by the Red Hot Organization.

“Now That I've Found You: A Collection,” a compilation of older releases and some covers of her favorite works by other artists, was released in 1995. Some of these covers include Bad Company's “Oh Atlanta,” The Foundations' “Baby, Now That I've Found You,” and The Beatles' “I Will.” A cover of Keith Whitley's “When You Say Nothing at All“ reached #3 on the Billboard Country Songs chart while the album peaked in the Top 15 on the all-genre Billboard 200 Albums chart, and sold two million copies to become Krauss' first double-platinum album. “Baby, Now That I've Found You” also won the Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.

“So Long So Wrong,” another Union Station album, was released in 1997 and reached #4 on Billboard's Country Albums chart. At the Grammy Awards of 1998 “So Long So Wrong” won three Grammy Awards, for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for “Looking in the Eyes of Love,” Best Country Instrumental Performance for “Little Liza Jane,” and Best Bluegrass Album.

Her next solo release, 1999’s “Forget About It,” included one of her two tracks to appear on the Billboard adult contemporary chart, “Stay.” The album was certified gold, and charted within the Top 75 of the Billboard 200 and in the Top 5 of the Country Albums chart

Union Station’s next album, “New Favorite” was released in 2001 and peaked in the Top 50 of the Billboard 200 and within the Top 3 of the Billboard charts for both Country and Bluegrass albums and was certified gold. At the 44th Grammy Awards, “New Favorite” would go on to win the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album and the single “The Lucky One“ won the Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal as well as Best Country Song.

She performed a duet with Brad Paisley on his 2003 album “Mud on the Tires” on the single “Whiskey Lullaby.” The single reached the Top 50 of the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart and the Top 5 of the Hot Country Songs chart.

“Lonely Runs Both Ways” followed in 2004 and reached the Top 30 of the Billboard 200, #6 on the Country Albums chart and #1 on the Bluegrass Albums chart. The album won the band three Grammy Awards in 2006, including Best Country Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocal for the song “Restless,” Best Country Instrumental Performance for “Unionhouse Branch” and Best Country Album.

In 2007, Krauss released the anthology “A Hundred Miles Or More: A Collection” which was a collection of soundtrack work, duets with artists such as John Waite, James Taylor, Brad Paisley and esteemed fiddle player Natalie MacMaster, and newer tracks.

Krauss recorded a collaborative album, “Raising Sand” with Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant in 2007 which would ultimately be RIAA certified platinum. “Raising Sand” was nominated for and won five Grammys at the 51st Grammy Awards including Album of the Year, Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album, and Record of the Year for “Please Read the Letter.”

Union Station released “Paper Airplane” in 2011 and it became their first #1 album on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. It is also the highest entry for the band on the Billboard 200, where the album debuted at #3. In addition to these charts, it also debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top Bluegrass Albums and Folk Albums charts.

Krauss has made multiple guest appearances on other records with lead vocals, harmony vocals, or fiddle playing. In 1993 she recorded vocals for the Phish song “If I Could” for their 1994 album “Hoist.” In 1997 she contributed harmony vocals in both English and Irish to Irish traditional band Altan's “Runaway Sunday” album. She has contributed to numerous motion picture soundtracks, most notably the soundtrack “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” in 2000. She and co-vocalist Dan Tyminski contributed multiple tracks to the soundtrack, including “I'll Fly Away” with Gillian Welch, “Down to the River to Pray” and “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow.” The soundtrack sold over seven million copies and won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 2002. The songs from the 2003 film “Cold Mountain” including “The Scarlet Tide” by T-Bone Burnett and Elvis Costello, and “You Will Be My Ain True Love,” by herself and Sting were nominated for an Academy Award, and she performed both songs at the 76th Academy Awards, the first with Costello and Burnett and the other with Sting. She also worked as a producer for Nickel Creek on their debut self-titled album in 2000 and the follow-up “This Side” in 2002, which won Krauss her first Grammy as a music producer.

Krauss has won a record 27 Grammy Awards over the course of her career as a solo artist, as a group with Union Station, as a duet with Robert Plant, and as a record producer. This is more than any other female artist and is tied for the second most won by any artist overall. She overtook Aretha Franklin for the most female wins at the 46th Grammy Awards where Krauss won three, bringing her total at the time to seventeen (Franklin won her sixteenth that night), and performed with Sarah McLachlan. The Recording Academy, which presents the Grammy Awards, presented her with a special musical achievement honor in 2005.