Alan Rhody's musical and
life journey have been vital parts of Nashville and modern country and
folk music for the last quarter century. The Kentucky-born singer and
songwriter wrote the first-ever Billboard No. 1 for the Oak Ridge Boys
("I'll Be True To You," 1978); Ricky Van Shelton's first Billboard
Top 30 ("Wild-Eyed Dream," 1987); co-wrote Lorrie Morgan's
first Billboard Top 20 ("Trainwreck Of Emotion," 1989); and
had his compositions cut by other country and bluegrass superstars including
Michael Martin Murphey, George Jones, Tanya Tucker, Lynn Anderson, Del
McCourty, Toby Keith, and Lee Greenwood. Rhody has also released nine
sparkling solo albums, including the new Led By Love; earned boatloads
of critical and industry praise (the Nashville Tennessean's Peter Cooper,
a fine musician himself, calls Alan "a singer-songwriter of unusual
clarity and intelligence"); maintained a busy schedule of festival
and tour dates, and even created a series of Edward Hopper-styled oil
paintings and watercolors of Nashville places and people. The man has
certainly not been resting on his laurels.
The new record, Led By Love,
marvelously ties together several musical and personal threads and several
decades of Alan's music and life. In some ways, it brings his music
and songwriting full circle, even including some Bluegrass-influenced
pieces, natural for a Kentucky native. There are also rocking tempo
tunes, introspective numbers, and shimmering musical and lyrical moments
throughout this eclectic, powerhouse set, one of the finest examples
yet of Rhody's wonderful combination of singing, songwriting, and production
gifts. As so often happens in Alan's work, the session players and singers
are an All-Star cast of musicians from several genres, including Sam
Bush, Guthrie Trapp, Mike Henderson, and Jonell Moser.
It all started in Louisville,
where Alan was a fan of all kinds of music before becoming a musician
himself. Some college buds were in a band, and one day Rhody went to
their rehearsal. They asked him to sing a tune, Sam Cooke's haunting,
bluesy "Bring It On Home To Me."
"That's not bad," the bandleader said. "Do you play harmonica?"
"No," Alan answered.
"Well, if you learn how to play harp (harmonica), you can join
the band," his college pal said, and Rhody embarked on what would
become a lifetime endeavor.
A year later, when Alan heard
"Four Strong Winds," the first American single by the iconic
Canadian folk duo Ian & Sylvia, he was (pardon the pun) blown away.
"Man, where does this come from?" he asked himself. "I
had heard a little bit about Dylan and the Greenwich Village scene,
but after that I was just engulfed myself in it, investigating folk
Rhody started teaching himself
guitar at that point. Decades later, Alan's love of folk music still
burns bright, and he is a favorite at folk festivals in Texas, Florida,
Alabama, Kentucky, Canada, and other parts of North America
Back in the winter of 1968, the Vietnam War was raging, and Rhody was
immediately drafted upon college graduation. Once he left the military,
where he was a conscientious objector, he traveled to Vancouver, and
ended up living and working in Canada for the next eight years.
"That experience altered something in me," he says.
Rhody and wife Kathy (they now have three grown children and four grandchildren)
were already married by then, and Alan went to work as an advertising
artist. He kept playing coffeehouses occasionally and developing his
craft, as well as building his confidence in live performance. The Rhodys
relocated to Toronto in the spring of 1971. That paid off over the next
few years, during which Alan recorded and released two singles and performed
on several network TV programs including Nashville North, Canada's hugely
popular TV program hosted by none other than Ian & Sylvia's Ian
In 1977 Rhody took the huge step to move to Music City full-time, after
scoring a staff songwriting and production deal with the hottest publisher
of that period, Tree Publishing, run by Jack Stapp and Buddy Killen.
His breakthrough hit as a writer, "I'll Be True To You," which
the Oak Ridge Boys took straight to No. 1 on all three country charts.
The single crossed into the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 as well.
"That single certainly invented me as a writer," he says.
Several near-misses on major labels came and went, but Alan was undeterred.
He began releasing some of the coolest independent albums on the Row.
One of his finest pieces is "River Town," from 2005's Rhody
In Black & White album. Alan says: "It deals with the Vietnam
Era situation, without naming anyone or any place. It was inspired by
my particular experience." So is "I Love You Anyway, Uncle
John," from 2001's Journey. The song is the touching story of a
conflict within a family split apart by war.
As both longtime and brand-new fans discover Alan Rhody's work, one
of the best things in recent years has been the innovation of house
"For someone like me, it's the perfect kind of gig," he says.
"The biggest thing about house concerts is that you're always totally
appreciated. The guests are coming totally for the music, and they're
excited to have that up-close experience."
Country-folk fans and superstars alike have been excited to have that
up-close experience with Alan Rhody's music for a long, long time. And
knowing Alan, the best is yet to come.
Bio by Phil Sweetland, Music and Radio journalist, Nashville, TN
" A singer-songwriter
of uncommon clarity and intelligence "
- Peter Cooper, The Tennessean
" He has earned a level
of respect and recognition that places him in the vanguard of
pioneers of the contemporary roots music movement. "
- Greg Quill, Toronto Star
" If you've never seen
this Nashville singer-songwriter perform, you're missing out
on one of our most entertaining and amusing acoustic troubadours. "
- Robert K. Oermann, music journalist, author, historian
"You can at once laugh
out loud and a few seconds later, be put in the most somber of moods."
- American Songwriter
Notable Venues Played:
Kerrville Folk Festival, Kerrville, TX
Florida Folk Festival, White Springs, FL
Summerfolk, Owen Sound, ON
Kentucky Folk Festival, Bardstown, KY
Live From The Rock Folk Festival, Red Rock, ON
Trout Forest Folk & Blues Festival, Ear Falls, ON
Shelter Valley Folk Festival, Grafton, ON
Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour, Lexington, KY - World-Wide Radio
Stan Rogers Folk Festival, Canso, NS
Acoustic Sounds Cafe, Little Rock, ARK
The Rudyard Kipling, Louisville, KY
The Blue Door, Oklahoma City, OK
'Radio Live' Concert Series, WUWF, Pensacola, FL
Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, Nashville, TN
Front Porch Music, Valparaiso, IN
Kentucky Music Weekend, Louisville, KY
Hugh's Room, Toronto, ON
The Freight Room, Edmonton, AL
Post Crypt Coffee House, Saskatoon, Saskachewan
Canal Street Tavern, Dayton, OH
Cherry Tree Coffee House, Philadelphia, PA
The Ark, Ann Arbor, MI
The Bluebird Cafe, Nashville, TN
Freight & Salvage, Berkeley, CA
The Riverboat, Toronto, ON
Steele's Tavern, Toronto, ON
Ronnie's Riverqueen, Vancouver, BC
Eddie's Attic, Atlanta, GA
Trinity Backstage, Santa Barbara, CA
TO BOOK ALAN RHODY:
P.O.Box 121231 Nashville,
Alan Rhody plays ELIXIR strings