It’s usually hyperbolic to call someone the “king” or “queen” of something, but if there is a “Queen of Bluegrass,” Rhonda Vincent is probably it. Entering the fifth decade of a career that has seen her touring the globe as a bluegrass singer and instrumentalist, and working with such country stars as Alan Jackson, Gene Watson, and the late Daryle Singletary, the IBMA, SPBGMA, Dove and Grammy-award winner shows no signs of slowing down.
One her new album Music Is What I See, Vincent and her band The Rage deliver 12 tracks of everything from traditional bluegrass to a reading of the Righteous Brothers classic “Unchained Melody.” The album also includes two singles she cut in the past couple years, the Jeannie Seely/Erin Enderlin/Bobby Tomberlin composition “Like I Could,” and a humorous COVID-inspired remake of the Hank Snow classic “I’ve Been Everywhere” called “I Ain’t Been Nowhere,” with lyrics by BR549 founder Chuck Mead.
Vincent was formally inducted into the Grand Ole Opry earlier this year, though they didn’t need to make her an official member to get her to appear there. “I’ve played on the Opry for years, and I’ve even tried to make myself kind of extra-available if I was in Nashville and they needed somebody last minute,” the gregarious Vincent said by phone from her Missouri home. “I’ve purposely tried to make that statement that I’m available, because I’ve seen people get inducted and then not play for a year. I’m so grateful to be a member now. And I got to be on the Opry on the 28th of May to celebrate the release of the new album.”
Meanwhile, Vincent’s band has brought a new guitar player and harmony singer on board with the addition of 20-year North Carolinian Zack Arnold, who replaces longtime member Josh Williams, who left for family reasons. “The way I actually got to know this kid,” Vincent said, “was that he came up on stage last September, he wanted to sing harmony with me, and I admired his boldness, and our voices just blended so well. At that time I didn’t even know we were going to need a guitar player. I auditioned some people and was looking through YouTube videos and I remembered him, and he was already in another band, but he was interested and came in to play with us. We’re very blessed to have him. I’m so proud of him, he’s just so good.”
The new album’s title song was recorded at, of all places, the recording studio in the Palms Casino Resort just off the Las Vegas Strip, where acts like Snoop Dogg and Lady Gaga have laid down tracks. “It was so funny!” Vincent said. “They’d never done a bluegrass recording at The Palms, and they were like, ‘Uh, you people are a lot different than the people who were just in here before, they trashed the place, there was just junk everywhere.’ We tried to clean up after ourselves, we tried to pick up our water bottles…they were expecting to have to bring in a cleaning crew after we were there. I said, ‘No, bluegrassers are a little different than your normal clientele.’ I’m glad our reputation is better than that!”