Donna Ulisse’s Showin’ My Roots is already being received well at radio. It maintained the #1 slot on the Airplay Direct Bluegrass/Folk chart for radio digital downloads for the whole month of October with over 900 downloads by radio.
It also was #9 in the FolkDJ charts which is compiled from actual playlists of 129 DJs worldwide who report their playlists to the chart. It is also currently #10 in the EuroAmericana chart which is compiled from airplay by DJs in Europe playing Americana, bluegrass and roots music.
SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction continues to add songs off the album into rotation.
Donna Ulisse recently spent a day in the Nashville Northstar TV studios surrounded by the “who’s who” of bluegrass music taping RFD TV’s Country Family Reunion: Simply Bluegrass. The show was hosted by Grand Ole Opry star Bill Anderson and Ricky Skaggs.
Other guests on the show included The Grascals, Bobby Osborne, Mac Wiseman, The Whites, The Roys, Larry Cordle, Carl Jackson, Rhonda Vincent, Del McCoury, Doyle Lawson, Jesse McReynolds, The Gibson Brothers, Jerry Douglas, Ramona Jones, Sierra Hull and Donna’s duet partner on her new album, Newgrass icon Sam Bush.
Donna sang the song One Way Rider off her new CD at the request of Terry Choate who booked her on the show and Carl Jackson and Larry Cordle sang harmony with her. The staff band consisted of Barry Bales on upright bass, Adam Steffey on mandolin, Ron Stewart on banjo, Stuart Duncan on fiddle and Donna’s co-producer on her new CD “Showin’ My Roots” on guitar, Bryan Sutton. Air dates are yet to be announced.
The morning of October 15th found Donna Ulisse and her bluegrass band The Poor Mountain Boys in the WSM 650-AM studios with host Bill Cody on the Coffee, Country and Cody show to celebrate the release of her newest CD on the Hadley Music Group label, “Showin’ My Roots.”
Donna and her top notch band performed two songs live during the hour and Bill Cody also interviewed Ulisse and played tracks from the record.
Ulisse has been a favorite studio guest of Bill Cody and Charlie Mattos so on this morning she also brought some of her homemade Italian meatballs and sauce to them both as well as to Operations Manager Joe Limardi who also grew up in an Italian family.
It might seem surprising for a performer who has been nominated as IBMA’s top songwriter for two successive years to be releasing a “covers” album, but ― in a sense ― that’s what Donna Ulisse has done with her latest effort.
Yet, while Showin’ My Roots puts Ulisse’s interpretive skills on fine display, it stands as far more than a stylistic exercise or even a tribute. Although her deft touch as a lyricist and composer is present on only two of these 13 tracks, the rest are songs that form the bedrock of her musical heritage: She has lived and breathed them for so long, she might as well have written them.
And she breathes new life into them with her magnificent voice, as warm and supple as ever, backed by some of the finest musicians in bluegrass music. Ulisse co-produced Showin’ My Roots with acoustic guitar virtuoso Bryan Sutton, and the supporting cast includes Scott Vestal on banjo, Rob Ickes on Dobro, Andy Leftwich on mandolin and fiddle, and Viktor Krauss and Byron House on upright bass. Sam Bush duets on the traditional work song “Take This Hammer,” and harmony vocalists include John Cowan, Carl Jackson, Larry Cordle, Fayssoux McLean, Larry Stephenson, Frank Solivan, Jerry Salley and Rick Stanley, Ulisse’s husband and band mate.
This is a diverse collection of songs, in tempo and sentiment. The Stanley Brothers (cousins of Ulisse’s husband) are represented in songs penned by Carter (the sprightly “How Mountain Girls Can Love”) and Ralph (the resigned “If That’s The Way You Feel”). Ulisse honors two heroes with her spin on Merle Haggard’s version of Dolly Parton’s “In The Good Old Days When Times Were Bad.” “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad,” made famous by Tammy Wynette, shows her feisty side, as does Loretta Lynn’s “Fist City.” She serves up a gorgeously wistful take on Hank Locklin’s “Send Me The Pillow You Dream On,” and an earnestly prayerful “Wait A Little Longer Please Jesus.”
Two songs that Ulisse wrote with her husband bookend this album. Both beautifully illustrate the love that went into this project. The album-opening title track is an ode to those whose “singin’ and writin’ lit a fire in me”: Haggard, Parton, Lynn, Carter Stanley. And “I’ve Always Had a Song I Can Lean On,” closes the album with a message that illustrates the importance music has always played in Ulisse’s life.
From beginning to end, Showin’ My Roots is as an extended love song to her influences, and one that lovers of bluegrass and traditional country music are sure to enjoy again and again. These timeless performances may well light a fire in generations to come.
Street Date: October 15 2013
Donna and co-writer Jerry Salley recently caught up with bluegrass icon Del McCoury in Raleigh, North Carolina at the International Bluegrass Music Awards to thank him for recording their song, “Butler Brothers” on the new Del McCoury Band CD The Streets of Baltimore. The CD was released on September 17, 2013 and is already receiving heavy airplay and stellar reviews.
Butler Brothers is a song about two brothers fighting on different sides in the Civil War and the struggle of their mother having two sons in a war on opposing sides. It was inspired by real life documents Ulisse’s husband Rick Stanley got from a Virginia courthouse about his own family. To read more about the background on the song, visit the Bluegrass Situation to read an interview journalist did with Donna for a piece she was writing about the album.
Donna Ulisse was featured in October 2013 in a full page article in the most read southern gospel magazine, Singing News. The piece ran on the Front Porch Fellowship page and was written by Les Butler, radio host of Front Porch Fellowship which is syndicated to over 200 gospel music stations across the country and listened to online.
Hadley Music Group singer songwriter Donna Ulisse has been nominated for International Bluegrass Music Association’s Songwriter of the Year Award. The nomination was announced at the August 14, 2013 press conference at Loveless Barn in Nashville, TN. The other nominees are Brink Brinkman, Paula Breedlove, Louisa Branscomb and Eric Gibson. The winner will be announced in Raleigh, North Carolina at the IBMA World of Bluegrass Conference during a special awards luncheon.
Nominations are decided by a special professional committee and upon the body of work written and released during the year with consideration given to chart activity, reviews, radio airplay and sales. This is the second year in a row Donna has been nominated.
As her warm, pure voice caresses ten heartfelt songs reflecting her lifelong faith, she transports you to a welcoming, down-home church that you won’t want to leave (even if you’re getting hungry and thinking about Mama’s pot roast). It’s a voice brimming with joy, a voice that remains firmly grounded even as it soars heavenward.
“I am trying to use my music to honor Him and to spread the word of His love through song,” says Ulisse, who wrote or co-wrote all but two of the songs on this career-spanning collection. Gospel songs have figured prominently on previous albums, and this CD culls the best of those, plus two newly recorded chestnuts.
While earning worldwide kudos for her singing, Ulisse has consistently been building a first-rate reputation (and catalog) as a writer. Artists including Claire Lynch, Darin and Brooke Aldridge, The Bankesters and Nu-Blu have recorded her songs, with two of those on Nu-Blu’s recent gospel album (the Bankesters and Lynch cuts were also gospel songs). And Ulisse earned a 2012 nomination for IBMA songwriter of the year.
I Am a Child of God has its eyes on an eternal prize, and it’s clear Ulisse believes what she’s singing. From the soulful testimony of the title song to the irresistible mountain harmonies of “Everything Has Changed,” through fresh spins on “Wait a Little Longer Please Jesus” and “This Is My Father’s World,” to the urgent confession of need in “I’m Calling Heaven Down,” Ulisse delivers confident, convicting gospel that, like the best of the genre, feels timeless, impervious to trend.
The accompaniment, of course, is sublime, with stalwarts including Keith Sewell and Bryan Sutton (both of whom produced songs here) on acoustic guitar; Viktor Krauss and Byron House on upright bass; Andy Leftwich on fiddle, Rob Ickes and Randy Kohrs on Dobro; and Scott Vestal on banjo. The Isaacs lend their unmistakably gorgeous harmonies to “This Is My Father’s World.”
By turns jubilant, prayerful, reflective, pleading and emphatic, I Am a Child of God shines as a uniquely personal expression of a believer’s spiritual journey. There’s not a false note here, lyrically, vocally or instrumentally. And that’s the gospel truth.
Hadley Music Group has published its’ first song book and it is the companion guitar/vocal songbook for the Donna Ulisse Christmas album All The Way To Bethlehem. The songbook also has photographs of Donna with all of her co-writers and additional information written by Donna to give the reader insight to the process of writing the songs. The book can be ordered from Donna’s website store or on Amazon.com
Guitar chords are diagrammed above the staff.
Natasha is scheduled to be the featured artist on the well known Chicago concert series Folkstage which is an uninterrupted, one-hour concert featuring some of the best traditional and singer-songwriter talent in folk music. The live concerts can be are heard Saturday’s at 8 PM on WFMT, immediately preceding The Midnight Special.
About 26 concerts per year are broadcast live from the WFMT studio in front of an audience. The remainder of the concerts are from their archives that stretch back 45 years, recent recordings made in the Chicago area, live broadcasts from the Old Town School of Folk Music, or recorded portions of their live studio concerts that were not previously broadcast.