The best female vocalist in bluegrass today, maybe the best in country music, is Rhonda Vincent
. Don't believe it? Take 30 seconds with her new Rounder album, The Storm Still Rages
. Most singers, given a fine, mournful song like the opener, "Cry of the Whippoorwill," would stress the "blue" in bluegrass. Not Rhonda: Her voice is pure "ass" -- as in "kick," "bad" and "kiss my." Even when singing a gospel number, she backs into every syllable with the whole of her body, with all her flesh, blood and sex. On more driving tunes such as the Osborne Brothers' "Bluegrass Express," Vincent's voice rings with ardor, sensuous as a dewy Missouri meadow (she still makes her home in Greentop, near the Missouri-Iowa border) yet muscular as a Thoroughbred.Vincent tried her luck at the Nashville game, and though she had the looks, talent and songs, that honest rural twang doomed her chances at radio. But, like Dolly Parton and Patty Loveless, she's done her best work in the most demanding country genre.
Vincent doesn't have any St. Louis dates this summer, so Steelville is as close as you'll get to her magnificent voice. Or listen real close from your back porch; you just might hear Rhonda singing her soul across the miles.