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Singer/songwriter Jim Lauderdale helped lay out the blueprint for the Americana movement of the '90s, earning high critical marks for an eclectic series of albums that spanned hard country, slick pop, rootsy rock & roll, blues, folk, R&B, and bluegrass. He never sold that many records on his own, but his compositions were recorded -- often with considerable success -- by a number of contemporary country stars, including George Strait, Patty Loveless, Vince Gill, Mark Chesnutt, Kathy Mattea, and George Jones, among others. Lauderdale was born in Statesville, North Carolina, in 1957 and grew up loving country music; however, he was also drawn to the theater and later moved to New York, where he landed roles in two national touring productions. He subsequently settled in Los Angeles, where he began playing the now-legendary alt-country hot spot the Palomino Club. With Dwight Yoakam producer Pete Anderson behind the boards, he recorded a track for the seminal compilation A Town South of Bakersfield, which helped him -- briefly -- land a record deal with CBS. He completed an album in 1989, but the label declined to release it; it finally appeared over ten years later on an overseas label as Point of No Return.
Undaunted, Lauderdale signed with the Bluewater music publishing firm in Nashville, where his compositions found immediate success in the contemporary country world. Additionally, he sang backup on records by Yoakam, Lucinda Williams, and Rosie Flores and toured with everyone from Freedy Johnston, Nick Lowe, and Hootie & the Blowfish to Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard. He earned another shot with Reprise and issued his debut album, Planet of Love, in 1991, with production from Rodney Crowell and John Leventhal. The album was greeted with strong reviews by many critics, who hailed Lauderdale as a major new talent. Still, it would be three years before he would release another record; he returned in 1994, now on Atlantic, and issued two acclaimed albums over the next two years in Pretty Close to the Truth and Every Second Counts. In 1996, he moved over to roots label Rounder's Upstart subsidiary for Persimmons, yet another critical success.
Hopping to BNA, Lauderdale released Whisper in 1998, then returned to the majors on RCA, issuing the somewhat slicker-sounding, more commercial Onward Through It All in 1999. That same year, Lauderdale also took a detour into traditional bluegrass, recording the collaborative album I Feel Like Singing Today with the legendary Ralph Stanley for Rebel. Lauderdale finally found a more permanent home on Dualtone and debuted with 2000's The Other Sessions, a return to hardcore country. Two projects arrived in 2002: another album with Stanley, called Lost in the Lonesome Pines, and a country record called The Hummingbirds. Ever prolific, Lauderdale released Wait Til Spring in 2003, Headed for the Hills in 2004, Bluegrass in 2006, and The Bluegrass Diaries in 2007. Honey Songs, credited to Jim Lauderdale & the Dream Players, was issued in 2008. Could We Get Any Closer? appeared in 2009. Moving to Sugar Hill Records, Lauderdale released Reason and Rhyme in 2011, this time teaming with lyricist and longtime collaborator Robert Hunter on a set of new bluegrass-themed songs. He next teamed with longtime friend and fellow country roots singer and songwriter Buddy Miller for 2012's Buddy and Jim, released by New West Records.
Jim Lauderdale is a musician & singer-songwriter who performs bluegrass, country music, and Americana. He has recorded since 1986 and has released nineteen studio albums. Artists who have recorded his material include George Strait, Vince Gill and Patty Loveless.
James Russell Lauderdale was born in Troutman, North Carolina on April 11, 1957. His father, the late W.C. Lauderdale, was a minister and his mother, the late Barbara Lauderdale a retired music teacher. Growing up in Due West, South Carolina, he played drums in high school, attended the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC (in the Drama Department as an actor) and after he graduated, he decided to become a solo performer in New York. He began singing backing vocals for various artists including Carlene Carter and Dwight Yoakam before scoring it big in Nashville after writing hits for George Strait, the Dixie Chicks, Patty Loveless, and more. His solo 1990s recordings have gained him much critical acclaim and a loyal cult following. In 2003, Lauderdale was joined by roots/jam band Donna the Buffalo on the album Wait 'Til Spring.
'"From Jim, I learned to trust the first thing that comes out of my mouth. For example, you might say, "It would be cool if the chorus said something like ’My home town is a half-mile down.’" From there, it got all Woody Guthrie, who could sing a whole verse with just one word, like "Dig diggy dig dig dig a dig/ diggy diggy dig dig" [in "Miner’s Song."] So I sang, "It’s a half-mile of water all around, all around."'Ketch Secor, Old Crow Medicine Show
Jim Lauderdale has hosted the Americana Music Awards for the last nine years, and won their first Artist of the Year and Song of the Year awards in 2002. He was also a judge for the 2nd and 10th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers. He is also Honorary Chairperson for the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest each April at MerleFest in Wilkesboro, NC. His 2002 album, Lost in the Lonesome Pines, a collaboration with Ralph Stanley, won the [[Grammy Award for
Best Bluegrass Album]] that year. His The Bluegrass Diaries won the same award in 2008. In 2007, he began a collaboration with Larry Campbell, the band Olabelle and others in the "American Beauty Project", a loose collection of musicians dedicated to reimagining in performance the Grateful Dead's two classic 1970 albums, Workingman's Dead and American Beauty. His 2009 release "Could We Get Any Closer?" was also nominated for a Grammy at the 52nd Grammy Awards in Jan. of 2010. His first collaboration with Dr. Ralph Stanley "I Feel Like Singing Today" was also Grammy nominated as was his solo album "Bluegrass". His current release, "Reason and Rhyme" (his third collaboration with Grateful Dead lyricist, Robert Hunter, the first being "Headed for the Hills" and the second being "Patchwork River" from May 11, 2010) was just released on June 21, 2011. George Strait's last two singles, "Twang" and "I Gotta Get to You" (TWANG, MCA) were written by Jim. In 2011, Lauderdale toured with Hot Tuna, an ensemble act including Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, Barry Mitterhof, G.E. Smith, and, for a time, Charlie Musselwhite. He has also toured with such as Elvis Costello, Rhonda Vincent and Mary Chapin Carpenter just to name a few.
He hosts "The Jim Lauderdale Show" Wednesdays at 2 PM (Central Time) on WSM Radio AM 650, and also www.wsmonline.com. Lauderdale is also a frequent host and performer on "Music City Roots: Live from the Loveless Cafe", a weekly Americana music show broadcast live on WSM from the Loveless Barn on Highway 100 in Nashville.