Alison Krauss is the most acclaimed bluegrass artist of her generation. She entered the music industry while still a teenager (making her first recording at the age of fourteen) and over the years won numerous awards, earned accolades from critics, and established a reputation as a first-rate live performer by touring all across the globe with an accomplished band (Union Station). Krauss’s angelic voice and prowess as a fiddle player wowed audiences from the very beginning and continue to amaze and stand out in concert to the present day.
Signed to independent Rounder Records in 1985, Krauss has stayed put throughout her career despite numerous opportunities to defect to more mainstream labels. The output of this talented artist can only be viewed as staggering in nature. Here is the rundown by the numbers: fourteen albums released either as a solo artist or with Union Station (the industry accepted abbreviation AKUS denoting Alison Krauss and Union Station); 27 Grammy Awards from 41 nominations, tying her with the composer Quincy Jones as the most recognized living recipient; thus she has received the most awards of any female artist in Grammy history; and in 1991, when Krauss garnered her first Grammy at the age of nineteen, she stood as the second youngest winner (since that time falling to ninth youngest).
Starting in 2000, Krauss became involved in three projects that led to a dramatic increase in her popularity. She made a number of significant contributions to the soundtrack of O Brother, Where Art Thou? and, as a consequence, got some credit for causing a revival in bluegrass in the United States when the album unexpectedly turned out to be hugely successful. Krauss and Dan Tyminski of Union Station sang on several tracks including “Down to the River to Pray,” “Didn’t Leave Nobody But the Baby,” and “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow.” In the end, the soundtrack sold close to eight million copies and won a Grammy as Best Album of the Year in 2002.
Krauss collaborated with country music superstar Brad Paisley in 2003 for the single “Whiskey Lullaby.” Released on his album Mud on the Tires, the heartfelt duet turned into an instant classic that shot up the charts, ending in the top five of the Hot Country Songs and in the top fifty of the Billboard Hot 100. In addition, the Country Music Association gave out awards to it for “Best Musical Event” and “Best Music Video” of the year.
Most notably, Krauss and rock’n’roll legend Robert Plant came together to produce the album “Raising Sand.” The bluegrass artist had perhaps her biggest taste of commercial success as a result of this collaboration. Released in late 2007, “Raising Sand” met with unqualified critical acclaim and proved to be popular with fans as well, achieving platinum status and selling over 1 million copies. One reviewer said the “key to the magic is the delicious harmony vocals of the unlikely duo.” Krauss’s vocals caused critics to become almost rapturous in their praise. “Spellbinding,” “honey-sweet,” “weepy,” and “haunting” were terms used to describe her efforts. Conversely, the vocals of the former lead singer of Led Zeppelin were seen as “wailing” and “slithering.” Plant and Krauss swept the Grammys in 2009 as “Raising Sand” won awards for all five categories in which it received a nomination, including Album of the Year and Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album.