Conversation: Ricky Skaggs
Ricky Skaggs has sold millions of records and won 14 Grammys, but the most important marker of success for him is a strong spiritual life. His latest album, “Mosaic,” focuses in on his spiritual side with a mix of songs that vary in tone and style.
“Mosaic” is a collaboration between Skaggs and Gordon Kennedy, who wrote and produced the album. But Skaggs traces the album’s roots all the way back to his youth growing up in the mountains of Kentucky.
Listen to Rick Skaggs talk about his new album:
“My mother and father were very spiritual people,” Skaggs says. “We went to church and I grew up listening to great music and great preaching and just a community of great people.”
Skaggs was introduced to bluegrass music at a very young age. When he was 6, just one year after his father bought him his first mandolin, Skaggs was brought on stage to play with the legendary Bill Monroe.
“My roots and my history have always been in bluegrass, but I went into more commercialized country music in the ’80s,” says Skaggs, who went on to record 12 number one county hits.
“When Mr. Monroe passed away in ’96, I really felt a deep calling … back to my roots, back to bluegrass,” says Skaggs.
A year after Monroe died, Skaggs started his own record label, Skaggs Family Records, and became the de facto patriarch of the genre. It came at a time when bluegrass began to see a revival in the mainstream, most notably in seen in the popularity of the film ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ Both Skaggs and his wife, Sharon White, performed on that soundtrack. (Jeffrey Brown spoke with Skaggs about that project for the NewsHour.)
“I have won more Grammys since I’ve been back than I ever did in country music, so it has really been a successful thing,” says Skaggs.
Skaggs is now on the road touring “Mosaic,” which will be released on Aug. 24, and performing old favorites with his band, Kentucky Thunder.