Ricky Skaggs jumps out of the bluegrass boat
December 2nd, 2010
10:54 AM ET

Ricky Skaggs jumps out of the bluegrass boat

Ricky Skaggs knows that he'll always be associated with bluegrass, always be thought of as the new face of the genre after his hero Bill Monroe passed away. He loves playing it.

"The bluegrass boat was working," he said by phone recently. "The boat I was sailing around in was working ... and I've had such joy working with [the band] Kentucky Thunder playing some great bluegrass."

Skaggs first appeared on stage 50 years ago, playing his mandolin with Monroe. A year later he was on the Martha White show, picking with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs.

He won 16 Grammys playing bluegrass. But he had long felt there was something more.

"For years I had been believing, and trusting, that God was going to pour out a new sound that would go out into the markets, go out into the streets where hurting people, lost people, lonely people, that there would be a music that would touch people," he said.

He drew a comparison to the Beatles in this way - the music would be a new sound, and it would be recognizably different. He says his latest CD, "Mosaic," may not be the fulcrum of this change but it is part of a new wave.

"I do know that heaven is pouring out a new sound," he says.

Helping Skaggs with that new sound is veteran producer/songwriter Gordon Kennedy, who a few years ago heard Skaggs would like to listen to some of his songs and see if they could work together.

Kennedy sent over a CD with a diverse group of music. Three of the songs had a pop rock, Beatles kind of sound. The rest of the tunes on the CD were ones that could be "pulled into the bluegrass sound," Kennedy said, at the time expecting that Skaggs was making another bluegrass CD.

Skaggs' representative told Kennedy that Ricky would probably favor the second group of songs over the first three. Six months went by and word came back that Skaggs loved the first three.

"Then I knew what to gear the next batch of tunes toward," he said. "I couldn't even find the incentive to do anything else for about a year. This sort of consumed my time and concentration."

Kennedy said that he and Skaggs are walking parallel spiritual paths and that kinship meant he never had to try to tailor the songs to Ricky's voice and/or style. It was a walk of faith and each trusted in the other.

His favorite song is "Instead," a song of Jesus on the cross paying for the sins of others. Skaggs said it was difficult to record the song, because of the lyrics. He had heard the song a dozen times before, from the demo CD. So he'd heard Gordon sing it. When it came time for him to lay down the track, he kept having to stop.

"The spirit of God hit me so hard in the lyrics," Skaggs said. "He came and rescued me. Even if I was the only one who believed in Him, he would have gone to the cross and rescued me."

Skaggs' tour with Kentucky Thunder continues this weekend. Skaggs said they've tried to get churches interested in concerts, but only one has responded affirmatively so far.

"But I think that at the end of the day it's going to end up in the marketplace and it's going to end up exactly where God's heart is for the lost," he said.

- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Music

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soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. DSLR-A850

    Halo semua orang! Saya tidak tahu di mana untuk memulai tapi berharap situs ini akan berguna bagi saya.

    November 16, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  2. appliance repair Santa Monica

    Dit was echt interessant. Ik hield van lezen

    April 27, 2011 at 8:55 am |
  3. golb


    December 6, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
    • golb

      Yo, Ricky, im really happy fo ya and imma let you finish, but Willy Nelson has the best long-hair of all time, ALL TIME!

      December 6, 2010 at 11:43 pm |
  4. Mike

    He did some tremendously great work with Jack White...much respect for the man

    December 4, 2010 at 11:24 pm |
  5. Ginny

    Dang, is this the same guy that sang "Honey Open That Door"?


    December 3, 2010 at 7:38 am |
  6. CatholicMom

    Ricky! So happy to see you again! Your music has always been wonderful and your artistry with those instruments is amazing! Your new direction is so beautiful with words worthy to take to heart. Thank you!

    December 2, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
  7. Chupi

    Bob – you should check out some of his music, especially “Mosaic”. I seems you could use some inspiration in your life and this album is full of the most inspirational music you will ever hear. It’s amazing. I hope you give it a chance.

    December 2, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
  8. Bob

    Who the hell is this guy? Why is he newsworthy? Looks like he needs more bluegrassin and less KFCin.

    December 2, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
    • Let Us Prey

      @ Bob

      Probably the greatest bluegrass multi-instrumentalist in the world. Shame to see him so heavy. Not healthy.

      December 2, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
    • Bob

      What the hell is bluegrass? 🙂

      December 2, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
    • Let Us Prey

      Allow me to introduce you to the Internet...

      Internet, Bob. Bob, meet the Internet.

      December 2, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
  9. Let Us Prey

    Ricky ! What's with the long hair? You're starting to look like Sam Kinison.

    December 2, 2010 at 11:05 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Let Us Prey



      December 2, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.