Singer Rhonda Vincent — dubbed the "the new queen of bluegrass" by the Wall Street Journal — dropped by TheBlaze newsroom recently to discuss her decades-long career, her Christian faith and her Grammy nomination for Best Bluegrass Album.
Vincent, who's built a career with a wholesome image and meaningful lyrics, also shared a tough- but-valuable lesson she learned years ago regarding how to stand up for her faith and values.
Listen to Vincent discuss her life and career below:
She recalled once performing at a festival when an atheist approached and began making fun of a gospel song that she and her family members were singing on stage.
"He started making fun of us. He took a gospel song — I was never so mortified — he took one of our standard gospel songs — my great grandmother would have just flipped, because he went and sang lyrics to this gospel song that is so sacred to us — and took them and made an abomination out of the song," Vincent said. "He took that opportunity to make fun...all we could do is not lash out and not stoop to his level and be negative and do something in a negative way."
She said that the man tried to get her and her family to react negatively, but that she prayed, stayed calm and continued performing as his heckling forged on.
"He was trying at every turn to get us to react and get us to do something negative. I really had to take a deep breath and start praying and saying, ‘How do I handle this?’ I have never been challenged like that," she continued. "It really showed to myself, 'Can I stand up and represent my faith and my God. Can I do that?'"
Years later, the performer has affirmed that she has no problem defending herself or her music, championing a positive image and creating songs that best reflect her faith and values without battling an eyelid.
Vincent — whose new album "Only Me" has found success appealing to both country and bluegrass fans — told TheBlaze about her excitement over collaborating with Willie Nelson on the title track. She also explained the difference between bluegrass and country music, noting that there's an authenticity in the former that isn't generally seen in other genres.
"It’s the same voice that you’re going to hear when you come to a show…it’s more of a raw, authentic voicing," she said. "I think it’s more of a ‘What you see is what you get.’”
Vincent, who has also performed gospel music over the years, explained that she always works hard to ensure that her music has a significant message.
[sharequote align="center"]"I really had to take a deep breath and start praying..."[/sharequote]
"When I’m picking a song, it has to really say something," she told TheBlaze. "I want it to have real significance in the message that it brings."
And the same goes for Vincent's image, which she said is important to keep "wholesome."
"In everything that we do, not only from the message that we’re writing I think it’s important to have a wholesome image to make sure that we are examples for others," she said. "I have moms that come up to me and say, 'Thank you for being an example to my daughter.'"
That mindset can be a rarity in professional music these days.
Vincent addressed some of the pitfalls in the music industry, including the pressure placed on young performers to sing songs that don't always have a significant message. In the mid-1990s, Vincent said that she ran into similar roadblocks when she was asked to sing songs that didn't fit her image.
"When I did a couple of country albums — and I ran into this head first because I’m working with the best of the best...right off they sent me songs and they were about sex, alcohol," she said. "And me unknowingly coming from a Missouri hillbilly who worked with her family and never working with anyone else … I said I would never sing this, which is probably why I’m not in country music today."
She continued, "My greatest disappointment about Nashville, versus working with my family and in bluegrass (is) finding out that it’s a product they’re selling because it used to be they would cultivate a career … they’re looking at how many and how quickly can we sell this song."
Find out more about Vincent here. The Grammy Awards air Sunday night.