Most music lovers are familiar with the annual Lollapalooza festival, but for literary buffs, the hottest ticket is LauraPalooza, an annual event celebrating author Laura Ingalls Wilder, whose books inspired the popular TV series “Little House on the Prairie.”
LauraPalooza provided inspiration for an upcoming PBS special titled “Pa’s Fiddle.” Taped at Nashville’s famed Loveless Barn, the show features performances by Natalie Grant, Rodney Atkins, Randy Travis, Ronnie Milsap, Ashton Shepherd, The Roys, and "The Sing Off" Season 2 winners Committed performing some of Wilder’s favorite music. The show is slated to air in June as part of a PBS pledge drive.
“As a little girl, I loved ‘Little House on the Prairie,’” Natalie Grant tells gmc. “I jumped at the chance [to participate] because it was PBS. I have always loved their programming and want it to continue because it provides such great entertainment for my whole family. This was a way I could give back and show my support.”
The show was a labor of love for all involved, especially Dean Butler, who co-produced the program with Dr. Dale Cockrell, director of Middle Tennessee State University's Center for Popular Music.
“I have been very, very blessed in this journey to do ‘Pa’s Fiddle’ and to be joined by some wonderful people, first and foremost the man [who inspired] this project,” Butler says recalling how he heard Cockrell speak at LauraPalooza two years ago. “Afterwards we sat over lunch and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if we could put this music on PBS? Wouldn’t that be just great?’ and then the journey began. I knew when Dale and I talked about it, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that we were going to do this. I didn’t know how or where or how we were necessarily going to sell it or present it, but I knew that we would get this done. It’s just one of those things that speaks to you. All passion projects are like that.”
Butler and Cockrell then set about recruiting artists to perform the vintage American tunes.
“The producers had very specific songs they wanted me to sing,” says Grant, whose performance received a standing ovation from the crowd. “Honestly, this was a real challenge for me because I don’t usually sing country/bluegrass type of music. They asked me to sing ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ and I had never even heard it before. My mom told me she used to sing it as a little girl in school. I was honored to perform the songs because I felt like I was also getting a music lesson in true Americana music.”
“Natalie Grant has a voice from God,” Butler says. “You rarely hear power like that.”
Butler was thrilled at the talent that assembled to bring “Pa’s Fiddle” to life. “Committed is an extraordinary group of people. These guys are talented on an amazing scale,” he says of the Alabama-based a cappella group.
“Randy Travis is wonderful and Ronnie Milsap is like a race horse. When the trumpet calls, he’s there and he really delivered for us. And I think The Roys are a very, very special duo. They are extremely accessible. They are engaging to watch. They connect beautifully with an audience and I think they are going to have a great run.”
The sibling duo, Elaine and Lee Roy, thoroughly enjoyed participating in the show. “When we heard what [the show] was for, it was a no-brainer,” says Lee, who recalls watching “Little House on the Prairie” with his family when they were growing up in Canada.
“The songs were chosen by the producers of the show. They were great songs that fit us well,” he says. "'Gum Tree Canoe' is a love song about two slaves who find a way to be together even though they're across the river from one another.”
Elaine sang lead on the classic “Buffalo Gals,” which she changed to “Buffalo Guys.”
“It was a blast to sing,” she says. “The arrangements that were done on these songs for us felt very natural, not very different from bluegrass arrangements so we really enjoyed singing these songs.”
Committed brought the audience to their feet with their performance of “Battle Cry of Freedom.”
“It was an honor,” Committed’s Therry Thomas told gmc after their performance. “Knowing that we were able to execute these songs the way we wanted to got the message across and they enjoyed it. That was great!”
“We came behind some really tough acts,” says Committed’s Tommy Gervais. “You have Randy Travis and Natalie Grant. It was awesome. Everybody was really nice and into the music.”
In addition to the PBS special, there will be a “Pa’s Fiddle” CD released June 5, which will no doubt be a big seller at this summer’s LauraPalooza.
Copyright 2012, watchgmctv.com. For permission to repost or reprint, click here.
About the Writer
Deborah Evans Price has covered Christian/Gospel music for Billboard magazine since 1994. She also contributes regularly to CountryWeekly, CMA Close Up, Devo’Zine, Christian Single, HomeLife, BMI Music World, and other publications. A Nashville resident since 1983, Deborah has held editorial posts at Radio & Records, Country News, American Songwriter and Billboard. Amy Grant, Trace Adkins, Brad Paisley, Charlie Daniels, 3 Doors Down, Third Day, Don Henley, Bon Jovi, Chris Rice, Sandra Bullock, Mercy Me, Alan Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Carrie Underwood and Steven Curtis Chapman are among her many interviews. Additionally, she's a sought-after music industry analyst who has been interviewed on CNN, MSNBC, TNN, The Today Show, and ABC PrimeTime Live, among other outlets.Deborah is a member of the Gospel Music Association's board of directors and a graduate of Leadership Music. She resides south of Nashville with her husband, Gary, and son Trey.
News You May Also Like
As reality shows and high-budget series have taken the place of the family-friendly dramas and sitcoms we used to know and love, there’s never been a better time to pare down your list of favorite cable channels. Thankfully, gmc has many of these wholesome shows in its library.One such show...
Ahh, 7th Heaven, that delightful little show that ran no fewer than 11 seasons straight. In 243 episodes, it certainly has its fair share of cheesy moments, not limited to the groan-inducing kissing scenes between the Reverend and his wife Annie, but when all was said and done, the show did more to...
Though 2012 is just a little over the half-way mark, the world of entertainment has lost so many key stars that it’s only fitting to pay tribute long before year’s end. Singer and silver screen star Whitney Houston, actor Sherman Hemsley, and television personality Dick Clark are just a...