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Award-Winning Bluegrass Singer Opens PAS Season

SOCORRO, N.M. August 25, 2015  – The Claire Lynch Band, featuring its eponymous International Bluegrass Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year, opens the 2015-2016 Performing Arts Series schedule with a performance at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, at New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center.

Lynch was honored with the IBMA award in 2013, a year after receiving the United States Artists Walker Fellowship, along with two Grammy nominations and two other IBMA Female Vocalist awards in 2010 and 1997.

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The Claire Lynch Band will appear in Socorro in September.

 

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Claire Lynch has won many awards during her career as a bluegrass singer-songwriter.

 

 
 

More recently, at the 2014 IBMA awards, Lynch received trophies for Song of the Year for “Dear Sister” and Recorded Event of the Year for a guest appearance on “Country Boy: A Bluegrass Tribute to John Denver.”

Prior to the concert, Tech Club/Club Macey will host a social hour from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. featuring hors d’oeuvres and adult beverages.

“Claire Lynch is a female bluegrass music pioneer, and is widely recognized as having one of the most angelic voices in the genre,” said PAS Director Ronna Kalish.

So true: In 2014, Digital Journal.com listed Lynch as “One of the 10 Best Angelic Voices of Our Time,” sharing that honor with musical icons Judy Collins, Alison Krauss, Sarah McLachlan, Martina McBride, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris.

“We are delighted to have Claire and her band open the new PAS season, and we hope to fill the house with an enthusiastic audience,” Kalish said. “New Mexico has a large bluegrass following, including many, many fans in Socorro.”

The Claire Lynch Band, which has a reputation as a group “with the innate ability to perfectly interpret the beauty, subtlety and genre-defying sophistication of Claire’s music,” features two-time IBMA-winning bassist-clawhammer, banjo player-dancer-percussionist Mark Schatz, mandolinist-guitarist Jarrod Walker and young string wizard Bryan McDowell, who at 18, won an unprecedented triple win at the National Flatpicking Championship in Winfield, Kan.

Lynch grew up in Kingston, N.Y., until the age of 12, when the family moved to Huntsville, Alabama, where she began her education in country music and got caught up in the bluegrass revival of the 1970s, joining a band called “Hickory Wind.”

The band, which later changed its name to the “Front Porch String Band” featuring Lynch as its centerpiece vocalist, evolved over the 1980s and 1990s into what critics have hailed as “one of the sharpest and most exciting post-modern bluegrass bands on the circuit.”

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Claire Lynch performs at MerleFest.

 

In 1981, after their first nationally-released recording, the group retired from touring, and Lynch took time for family while continuing to write songs. The band resurrected a decade later with the album “Lines and Traces,” which ultimately led Lynch launching her solo career in earnest.

“Friends for a Lifetime” was released in 1993 followed by “Moonlighter” in 1995, for which she received her first Grammy nomination; a second Grammy nom for “Silver and Gold” followed in 1997.

After the band closed the 20th century with the album “Love Light” in 2000, Lynch considered a complete break from music, especially the daily grind of touring.

“I hadn’t planned to come back,” she said. “Then one day I opened my catalog of songs and realized that I’d written my life.”

At that point, the Alabama singer-songwriter’s life took a different direction.

Lynch sang harmony on “The Grass is Blue” and “Little Sparrow,” which led to promotional touring as backup vocalist for Dolly Parton, in addition to previously cited backup vocals for other famous artists.

In 2005, she struck out on her own, forming the Claire Lynch Band and releasing the “New Day” CD, a hit on the bluegrass charts which earned her IBMA nominations for Song of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year. In 2007, Rounder Records released the anthology collection, “Crowd Favorites.” More IBMA nominations followed as well as an induction into the Alabama Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.

Lynch’s USA Walker Fellowship Award for $50,000 was one of 50 given for 2012 to the most innovative and influential artists in their fields, including architecture and design, crafts and traditional arts, dance, literature, media, music, theater arts, and visual arts.

After a long, successful stint with Rounder Records, in early 2013 Lynch signed a recording deal with Nashville-roots label “Compass Records,” cited as “one of the greatest independent labels of the last decade” by Billboard magazine.

As one observer wrote, “Listening to Claire Lynch sing is not something to be undertaken casually. Her songs and stage presence demand the listener’s rapt attention. She’s an intensely soulful singer, whose distinctive voice resonates with power and strength, yet retains an engaging innocence and crystalline purity.”

Kalish said, “Again, PAS is delighted to feature this talented quartet as our season premiere concert; and, as always, we are grateful to our sponsors and supporters.”

Sponsors for the Sept. 11 event are Don and Rosie Tripp, Blue Corn Music, Vertu Fine Art Gallery, Twisted Chile Restaurant and Brewing Co., Mine Country Music 102.1, KUNM-FM and Comfort Inn.

Tickets are $16 for adults, $14 for senior citizens 65 and over, and $8 for youths 17 and under, and are available at the Cashier’s Office, Socorro County Chamber of Commerce, Sofia’s Kitchen/Burrito Time Drive-up, at nmtpas.org (for a small fee) or at the door.

–NMT –

By Valerie Kimble/New Mexico Tech