Before Alison Krauss became a national celebrity, she was a local one of sorts.
In 1983, when Alison Krauss was 11 or 12 years old, she appeared on a local television show as part of the cast of Annie.
An unearthed video clip from “For Kids Only,” a tv show filmed at a local television show in Champaign, Illinois, shows Krauss and seven of her Annie cast mates promoting the theater production of the play. The show’s host makes her way through the cast, asking them questions about their involvement in the play and about their future plans. But, when she came to Alison, she asked the future star about her musical skills.
“I hear you play the violin very well,” the host told a modest and embarrassed Alison.
“Oh, I guess so,” a smiling Alison said before putting her head in her hands.
(See the full interview HERE.)
The interview with Alison was brief, but a clear indication of what was to come for the prodigy. That same year, Alison Krauss won the Illinois State Fiddle Championship and was named the Most Promising Fiddler in the Midwest by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass in America.
Just two years after this interview, Krauss signed a record deal with Rounder Records at the age of 14 and recorded her first solo album at age 16. This record deal set Alison on a path to superstardom. She won her first Grammy award in 1991 for her album, “I’ve Got That Old Feeling.” It would be the first of 27 Grammys for the musician who became famous for her angelic voice and her impeccable fiddling talent.
Krauss held the record of being the singer and female artist with the most Grammy wins in 2004. She held the record until 2021 when Beyonce won her 28th.
Alison Krauss was strictly considered a bluegrass artist until the release of “When You Say Nothing At All,” her cover of the Keith Whitley classic.
In 1994, Krauss was relatively unknown to the country music genre. She was invited to join band Shenandoah for their single “Somewhere in the Vicinity of the Heart.” It landed Krauss on the country music charts for the first time and earned her yet another Grammy.
But, it was her cover of Keith Whitley’s “When You Say Nothing At All” that made her a household name.The song was recorded as part of Krauss’s album, Now That I’ve Found You: A Collection, released in 1995. The cover only reached number three on the Billboard country chart, but sold two million copies to become Alison’s first double platinum album. She also won all four CMA Awards she was nominated for that year, including the coveted Female Vocalist of the Year award, beating out Pam Tillis, Reba McEntire, Mary Chapin-Carpenter and Patty Loveless.
Alison Krauss made a massive impact on the music industry, as a musician and a vocalist. She is arguably one of the most desired collaborators for artists of many genres.
Some of her most notable contributions include harmony vocals on Kenny Rogers’ “Buy Me a Rose,” Brad Paisley’s “Whiskey Lullaby,” John Michael Montgomery’s “The Little Girl,” and “How’s the World Treating You” with James Taylor.
See Alison Krauss sing “When You Say Nothing At All” live below.