DALE ANN BRADLEY SHARES STORIES OF HARDSHIP AND HOPE ON NEW ALBUM ‘THINGS SHE COULDN’T GET OVER’
The five time Bluegrass Female Vocalist hopes the new songs will foster understanding by inviting listeners to walk in someone else's shoes.
From a fragile woman battling mental health issues to a homeless veteran struggling to stay alive to the Native Americans traveling the Trail of Tears, the songs on Dale Ann Bradley’s finely crafted new album, Things She Couldn’t Get Over, explore some of humanity’s most heartbreaking challenges yet also celebrates the strength and resiliency of the human spirit.
A five time winner of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) female vocalist title, Bradley recorded the Pinecastle Records release last summer during socially distanced recording sessions with her band—guitarist Kim Fox, Matt Leadbetter on dobro, Mike Sumner on Banjo and Ethan Burkhardt on bass. “I had half of the songs and then things came to me, what I wanted it to be,” she says of honing in on the album’s message. “At a certain point, you always think about if you want to leave something behind and what is that? I believe this would be it. Not that I plan on going anywhere, but I’m saying this is an album like that. Hopefully I’ve said something that brought some understanding or some peace.”
Bradley has built an impressive career by delivering solid songs fueled by excellent musicianship and her clear, pure voice. She’s a member of the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame, has received two Grammy nominations and earned multiple accolades in the bluegrass community. In addition to her solo career, she has also been a member of the all female group Sister Sadie, who is the IBMA’s reigning Entertainer of the Year, an unprecedented accomplishment. “We won Vocal Group last year and it was the first time a female group had ever won it and then it’s the first time a female group has ever got Entertainer of the Year. It knocked the breath out of me,” Bradley says of her surprise at their win. “We were watching it virtual and I couldn’t believe it. I did not expect that at all and I smiled before I cried. It was a sweet feeling when you’ve loved something and put everything you’ve got in it and people give you a nod.”
Born in rural Kentucky, Bradley’s family didn’t have running water in their home until she was in high school. Her dad worked in construction, coal mining and was a minister in the Primitive Baptist Church. At 14, Bradley got her first guitar and began singing in high school. Her talent began earning her acclaim when she joined the New Coon Creek Girls in 1991. By 1997, she had recorded her first solo album, East Kentucky Morning, which climbed to top ten on the Bluegrass Unlimited chart.
Bradley wrote or co-wrote three songs on the new album, including “Living on the Edge.” She got the idea for the empowering anthem as she was thinking about people in her past who had been overbearing and tried to bully her into following their lead. “I would always feel like I needed to do what they wanted rather than what I felt like I ought to do [because of] the repercussions from not doing what people want you to do. You could get ostracized and you were threatened with that all the time,” she says of what inspired the song’s defiant lyric. “So I’m like, ‘Go ahead make your angry pledge, get mad, push me out here on the ledge because buddy, I’m getting used to this. Just knock me down or leave me alone. Hit me with your best shot.’ Everybody makes mistakes and nobody has the right to push anybody or judge anybody so that’s kind of what it is about.”
The title track, “Things She Couldn’t Get Over,” was written about a girl Bradley knew in high school who suffered from mental illness. “She just walked the halls. She wouldn’t stay in class. To sit in a classroom, she could not do that, but they would let her [roam]. They were just wanting to help her get through,” she says of how teachers and school officials tried to accommodate her. “She was funny and she didn’t start nothing, but buddy, if someone started something she would jump in there and defend herself. She just had some obsessive-compulsive things, but she was a good kid. She was a very unusual person with maybe two or three different things going on mentally that really made it hard to treat her.”
The girl never married and continued to live in that small down until she died of breast cancer. “I met her again later in life here when I moved back to Kentucky and her mental condition had really taken a toll on her,” says Bradley, who thought of her during the pandemic and began writing the song. “During COVID I had been working on the album and writing stuff and that one kind of found me. She just came into my mind. People like her were misunderstood. I just felt like it was time—when everything is so crazy and people are trying to just survive—it’s time to realize that the mind can’t bear a whole lot either. The body can’t and the mind can’t. If we recognize things and can reach out a hand and give a smile, a cup of coffee or maybe help somebody find some place that they can get some help, I think that’s going to be a must in our future because we can’t bear all of the stuff that we do anymore. It’s been a weird year.”
Another poignant song on the album is “Lynwood,” a tender tale about an encounter with a homeless Vietnam vet. “David Morris co-wrote that and sent it to me and I listened to those lyrics and I thought, ‘Wow! That’s exactly what is happening now,’” she says of the song Morris wrote with Gordon Roberts and Donate Gardner. “I think you ought to give back to your soldiers.”
n recording her new album, Bradley also includes covers of “L.A. International Airport,” a hit for Susan Raye and also John Anderson’s “Yellow Creek,” an album cut from his 1986 collection Countrified. “It’s about the Trail of Tears,” she says of the forced relocations of approximately 100,000 Native Americans between 1830 and 1850 by the U.S. government. “I thought man it’s time for this song and so I’m tickled to death to get to do a John Anderson song. I don’t think I’ve ever got to do one before.”
Bradley is also happy to revive “L.A. International Airport.” First recorded in 1970 by David Frizzell, the song became a global hit for Raye, peaking at No. 9 on the Billboard Country Singles chart in 1971, No. 54 on the all genre Billboard Hot 100 and became a bigger success internationally hitting No. 2 on the chart in Australia and No. 1 in New Zealand. “I’d heard it for years,” says Bradley, who recalls seeing Raye sing it on Hee Haw when she was a child. “This is a pretty broken hearted song and it kind of brings back that late ’60s thing too. I thought the band really brought it because none of them had ever heard it. They didn’t know who Susan Raye was. They did a great job.”
The album closes with “In the End,” an emotional ballad about what’s truly important in life (get a first list of the song above). “That’s a scratch vocal,” Bradley says of recording the song in one take. “I left it on there because I couldn’t do it again. The night before we recorded that song, Debbie and Steve Gulley were coming down to Nashville to sing harmony and she called me and said, ‘Dale, he’s so sick. I’m going to take him to the hospital,’ and then she called me later that night and told me he’d been diagnosed with cancer. It was all over him.
“So the next morning, I did the best I could on it, but you talk about a come to Jesus moment. It was and it just floored me,” she says. “I sung that knowing how his situation was. Those words were held up in front for me to see for my own self. It don’t matter about your political views. After it’s all over with, it don’t matter where you sit on the pew. It don’t make much of a difference how much you knew when it’s time to leave. And we’re going to leave. Even though that was painful, that very thing has brought me peace after he was gone. I listen to the words to that song and really know that everything is true. It really helped me.”
Like other artists, Bradley is looking forward to getting back on the road when it’s safe to do so. However, in 2021 her plans are to concentrate on her solo work as she’s left Sister Sadie. “We’ve been together for between seven and eight years and I think it was probably time,” she says of her decision to exit the award-winning band. “I love each and every one of them and I think they do me too. They are planning to go on and they’ll be great… I’m happy where I’m at and they are at the top of the heap right now.” The soft-spoken singer/songwriter is excited about getting her new album out and is hopeful fans will connect with the songs. “I hope the songs give a person an opportunity to simply to walk in somebody’s shoes throughout that song and maybe it will lead to an understanding,” she says. “Maybe that’s what is needed more than some kind of action out of fear. I know it’s a touchy time, but I hope it gives people an opportunity to walk in other people’s paths.”
Bluegrass Star Dale Ann Bradley on The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Music Industry
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in Pineville, Kentucky. It’s located in Bell County, which is in the southeast coal fields on the Ky. side of the Cumberland Gap. My Father was a Primitive Baptist minister, and a retired coal miner. My mother, father, brother, grandmother and great-grandfather all lived in a four room house that was tar-paper covered for the first 10 years of my life. We had to carry water to be heated, and we cooked with wood and coal. There was one electrical outlet in the ceiling with several extension cords. The Primitive Baptist Church was very strict and social activities weren’t permitted, and no instruments were allowed, or anything that was considered worldly. I received my first guitar at age 14 and that really changed my life.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I really never thought of doing anything else. Being raised at the poverty level, education wasn’t an option at the time. Music was my fiercest interest, and where my heart was. So I was very determined to do this against both advice and rules. It was all I could think about at that time.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Two major things come to mind. I was fortunate enough to get to play traditional Bluegrass music to services in Ireland which was an amazing experience. It was a real full-circle moment for me, getting to tie in my Gospel roots, coupled with my career’s growth. Another interesting story happened at one of my shows when José Feliciano showed up and we sang “Me and Bobby McGee” together on stage. He’s such a major influence to so many people, and several of the songs that he’s written like “Feliz Navidad” are timeless masterpieces.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
A few examples come to mind. My Kentucky accent is thick, and has caused me to pronounce words in certain song titles that to the many bands and audiences, sounds like something completely different. I was playing in Missouri one late evening and had recorded “Don’t Turn Your Back / Put a Penny on the Track” and my band had a good time with the last line of that sentence, replacing the world “track” with another word. While announcing the song to the audience, I spoke the same word my band had been speaking and everyone laughed! It’s made me more aware of my pronunciations of words, without a doubt! Haha
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I just finished my latest solo album Things She Couldn’t Get Over, and it has been a very special process. It features all of my band members from “Moon Runner” (Kim Fox, Matt Leadbetter, Mike Sumner and Ethan Burkhardt) on the tracks, plus I wrote more on this record than any before. During the process, I was mulling around multiple ideas that were special to me.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
It’s healing to identify with art. I think it’s a strengthening cultural factor to be able to tell stories, write songs, sing, act, etc. I love how it enables each person to be able to share their personal experiences that are different from person to person. Getting a different insight, and in a sense being able to walk in someone else’s shoes helps to maybe find similarities instead of so many differences. Hopefully it helps us to find “difference” in a not so different way.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Be professional. This is how you carry yourself and it goes a long way towards being successful. If you’re able to show yourself in a positive way, it helps to make connections that will in return help to build your career and reach new heights. This is how we’re able to get artist bookings and establish connections for the future. A big part of any industry (especially the music industry) is word of mouth, and only helps to be seen in a positive and professional way.
2. Be original. There are so many things an artist can be, but what I’ve learned is that at the end of the day, you have to stay true to yourself. That’s really what people connect with most, it’s my experiences that help me to connect with listeners on a personal level. It goes into my songs, live shows and everything I do.
3. Listen to advice, but don’t become obsessed with pleasing everyone. Starting out, nobody wanted me to pursue a career in music, and after taking a chance it all worked out. So many people over the years have told me that I should do this or do that. You have to listen to your gut and know that occasionally you’re not going to please all of the people all of the time, and that’s okay.
4.Its a hard life. Nothing is easy all of the time. I feel like my humble upbringing has enabled me to see the difficult part of life, but gain an optimistic perspective on the future. No, it’s not always sunshine and flowers, and occasionally life will bring you down. But you have to get up and keep chugging along. Tomorrow is a new day!
5. Have the time of your life. I’ve had the opportunity throughout my career to win several awards, travel the world and make connections with some of the greatest people on the planet. When everyone looks back, many have things they would do differently, maybe. But it’s the mistakes that help up to appreciate the good and make the most of life.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Find a hobby. If music is your job, or you’re a writer, performer or on the business side I can’t recommend this enough. It will really help you not to go crazy. One thing that I enjoy is going “junking” — which is something I used to do long before the American Pickers TV show came along!
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
You never know what your idea can trigger. The movement would be “Those Who Want To Preserve The Solid Rules of Behavior We Grew Up With.” The basic takeaway would be to respect your elders, give up your seat to others in need, assist folks who need a helping hand and have respectful behavior (saying “yes ma’am” or “no sir”). In a way it goes along with the Golden Rule, which is to treat others the way you want to be treated.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My Dad, which I previously mentioned, was a minister. He was strict because of concern. I am blessed to have a son, who is now an adult. My father helped to take care of him while I was away on the road playing shows and I wouldn’t have done it any other way than my son being with my Dad.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Don’t Do Today What You’ll Regret Tomorrow.” I find it important to stop, take a breath, and listen before acting. It’s something that has worked really well for me since I learned how to do it.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them.
Meryl Streep. She’s so deeply smart, plus the astounding career and work she’s done over the years has been an amazing sight to see.
How can our readers follow you online?
Readers can learn more by visiting my website, www.daleannbradleyband.com.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Dale Ann Bradley Departs From Sister Sadie To Charge Forward With Solo Career
Bradley Concludes Final Chapter With Sister Sadie After Winning IBMA Awards for
“Entertainer of the Year” and “Vocal Group of the Year”
Nashville, Tenn. - Bluegrass hitmaker Dale Ann Bradley has just announced her departure from Sister Sadie. After recording together on two projects and recently taking home the IBMA awards for “Entertainer of the Year” and “Vocal Group of the Year,” the Bluegrass troubadour is leaving on a high note. Bradley recently unveiled her brand new single, “Falling Down,” from the pen of Ashby Frank.
The 5-time IBMA “Female Vocalist of the Year” recently finished working on brand new solo material, which is set for release in February 2021. Leaving Sister Sadie, which she co-founded, will allow Bradley to devote more time to her solo career.
“I've had some of the best times of my life with the Sadie girls. They are so extremely talented and the funniest people one could be around,” said Bradley. “I'll always be excited to hear them sing and play! Go see their show…it'll always be a great one!”
Over the years, Dale Ann Bradley has established herself as one of the top artists in the Bluegrass genre. In addition to being nominated for multiple Grammy awards and performing on the legendary Grand Ole Opry, the songstress has charted several No. 1 hits, turning heads in multiple genres including Americana, Folk and Gospel circles as well.
The new lineup that joined Bradley in studio is her touring band, which includes Matt Leadbetter on dobro, Kim Fox on guitar and vocals, Pinecastle CEO Ethan Burkhardt on bass, and Mike Sumner on banjo.
With the next record, Dale Ann has spent more time than ever before writing original and inspired material. Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, the singer has been empowered to craft material that speaks to the current state of the world. It serves as a full circle moment for Bradley after doing several side projects including her time building Sister Sadie as well as the critically acclaimed Bradley & Adair with Sadie bandmate Tina Adair. Once tour sanctions are lifted, Dale Ann plans on returning back to the road with her band accompanying her shows.
To keep up with all things Dale Ann Bradley, check out her official website HERE to find latest tour dates, news stories and more!
Sister Sadie Named Entertainer of the Year at 31st Annual IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards
Garth Brooks, Ronnie McCoury and Vince Gill inducted the three new members of the International Bluegrass Hall of Fame.
Sister Sadie, an all-female bluegrass group, won entertainer of the year at the 31st annual International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Awards, which were presented online Thursday evening (Oct. 1).
In addition, the group took vocal group of the year for the second year in a row, while one of its members, Deanie Richardson, won fiddle player of the year for the first time.
The awards are usually presented in the Memorial Auditorium in Raleigh, N.C, the city where the IBMA is based. The COVID-19 crisis forced the event to go online. But there was one saving grace: The producers were able to use an empty Ryman Auditorium in Nashville as a location for several performances as well as anchor hosting by four musicians -- Sierra Hull, Rhonda Vincent, Joe Newberry and Tim O’Brien.
Garth Brooks, Ronnie McCoury and Vince Gill inducted this year’s three new members of the International Bluegrass Hall of Fame.
Brooks inducted New Grass Revival, one of the top progressive bluegrass bands of the 1970s and ’80s. McCoury inducted The Johnson Mountain Boys, hardcore bluegrass traditionalists. Gill inducted J.T. Gray, owner of the iconic Station Inn in Nashville. In his remarks, Gill said the venue is “far more than a venue or a club. It’s a home.” The Station Inn was also the setting of a performance by Po’ Ramblin’ Boys.
Brooke Aldridge took female vocalist of the year for the fourth year in a row. Danny Paisley won male vocalist of the year for the second time. He previously won in 2016.
Four past winners of female vocalist of the year -- Vincent, Aldridge, Amanda Smith and Dale Ann Bradley -- sang “Down to The River to Pray” a cappella to mark the 20th anniversary of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack.
Album of the year went to a live recording by Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. It marked the first time a live album has won in the category since 2003, when Alison Krauss and Union Station’s double-disk Live won the award.
Michael Cleveland won in both the instrumental group and instrumental recording categories.
Falling Down Drops For Dale Ann Bradley
Pinecastle Records has a new single for Dale Ann Bradley, surely one of the most gifted and enduring vocalists in all of bluegrass music.
Of late we have been hearing music from Dale Ann through her participation in the all-female supergroup, Sister Sadie, but she continues to record her own projects as she has been doing since the 1990s.
The new single, Falling Down, is a contribution from Ashby Frank, who is showing himself to be one of Nashville’s most insightful writers. It will also be included on her next Pinecastle project, Things She Couldn’t Get Over, expected sometime next year. The song tells of the impact that fear of failing has on us all, thoughtfully applied to the writing of a song.
Bradley is supported on the track by her touring group, featuring Matt Leadbetter on dobro, Kim Fox on guitar, Ethan Burkhardt on bass, and Mike Sumner on banjo. Frank guests on mandolin, and on harmony vocals along with Fox.
Dale Ann Bradley Inducted into Kentucky Music Hall of Fame
Bradley Honored As One Of Kentucky’s Outstanding Singers, Songwriters, and Musicians
Dale Ann Bradley was inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame on Friday, May 11, at ceremonies held at the Renfro Valley Entertainment Center in Mt. Vernon, Kentucky.
The Kentucky Music Hall of Fame honors entertainers and music professionals who have made significant contributions to the entertainment industry.
Bradley, who hails from Pineville, Kentucky, worked as a solo artist on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance for several years before joining the New Cook Creek Girls in 1991. In 1997 she left the group for a solo career. She has been named Female Vocalist of the Year with the International Bluegrass Music Association five times and is a two-time recipient of the Traditional Female Vocalist honor from the Society for Preservation of Bluegrass Music. Her album, “Pocket Full of Keys,” was nominated for Bluegrass Album of the Year in 2016.
Bradley stands with a prestigious class of inductees for 2018, which includes country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, Christian performer Jason Crabb, singer-songwriter Jackie DeShannon, country singer-musician Bobby Lewis and the late Grand Ole Opry member and Hee Haw star David “Stringbean” Akeman.
Previous inductees to the Hall of Fame include the Everly Brothers, Loretta Lynn, Bill Monroe, Ricky Skaggs, Tom T. Hall, Keith Whitley, The Backstreet Boys, Rosemary Clooney, the Judds, Patty Loveless and the Osborne Brothers.
The Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum also houses artifacts and memorabilia that highlights the careers of more than 50 Hall of Fame inductees, honoring the musical history of Kentucky. The Hall of Fame and Museum opened in 2002 and is a must-see place to visit for those who love music.
"THIS WOMAN IS A SINGER'S SINGER AND IT'S INSPIRING EVERY TIME SHE OPENS HER MOUTH. ENJOY THIS GREAT ARTIST. I ALWAYS HAVE." - VINCE GILL