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September 2008 Issue

I listened to this new album by singer Susie Glaze, titled "Green Kentucky Blues," before I read her biography. Glaze doesn't have a typical bluegrasssounding voice, yet her singing is impressive at all ranges. There is a difference between someone's voice being described as piercing or as clear as a bell. Glaze's singing falls in the latter category, along with a strong folk influence thrown in the mix and a vibrato at the lower registers that is smooth and beautiful. And, then, I read her story.

If Glaze's voice sounds as if it has a trained quality to it, it's for a good reason. A native of Tennessee, she is also an actress who was an original cast member of Roger Miller's wonderful Tony award winning musical play, "Big River," playing the role of Mary Jane Wilkes for two years. During her stint in that production, she decided to explore deeper into American roots music, seeking out the Stanley Brothers, Doc Watson, and more. After leaving Broadway, Glaze made her way to California and began to play bluegrass.

On "Green Kentucky Blues," Glaze is backed up by the best of West Coast bluegrass musicians. The album is thoughtfully produced by Laurie Lewis, who brought in fellow pickers Tom Rozum, Herb Pedersen, Mike Witcher, Dennis Caplinger, Rick Cunha, Tom Sauber, Patrick Sauber, Bill Bryson, and Rob Carlson. Glaze has found a love for the original compositions of Jean Ritchie. Three are featured here, including "West Virginia Mine Disaster" and "The L&N Don't Stop Here Anymore." There are seven songs penned by Rob Carlson, including three cowritten with Laurie Lewis that includes the title cut and "I Only Dream Of You," a wonderful duet sung by Glaze and Rick Cunha.

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