vocalist from Texas who co-founded The Down Home Kids in the 1960s and went
on to join The Down Home Folks, who evolved into The Whites. The Whites comprised Sharon, her
sister Cheryl, mother Patty, and father Buck. In 1971, they impressed at Bill
Monroe’s Bean Blossom Festival and subsequently moved to Nashville,
bit of trivia: When mandolin
maker Randy Wood decided to start building guitars, he built his first
model for Sharon. This would
have been in 1972 or 1973, the year that Whites matriarch Pat left the
band. Now a trio, they wowed
budding bluegrass singer Emmylou Harris in 1975, and she asked them to
perform backing vocals on her late ‘70s album, Blue Kentucky Girl.
Harris’s Hot Band was led by another up-and-coming country
music star, Ricky Skaggs. Ricky
and Sharon fell in love and were eventually wed in the early
meantime, The Whites already had recorded two albums under their own name, Live at the Old Pickin’
Parlor and More Pretty Girls Than
One. In 1980, Jerry
Douglas, Ricky Skaggs and The Whites performed in Karachi, Pakistan, of all
places, as part of the USIA-sponsored tour entitled “Southern Music, U.S.A.” Back in the States, the five-some
minus Cheryl laid down tracks for Emmylou Harris’s Roses in the Snow. In 1981, The Whites enjoyed a taste
of chart success with “Send Me the Pillow You Dream On”.
and Ricky continued to accompany Emmylou on albums such as Cimarron and Evangeline. When
Ricky’s solo career began to take off, Sharon was never far away,
appearing on Family & Friends,
Highways & Heartaches, and Waitin’ for the Sun to Shine. In the
meantime, she still found time to record with New Grass Revival on Commonwealth and Roseanne Cash on Somewhere in the Stars.
Ricky’s fortunes improved, so did The Whites’. They cracked the top ten in 1982
with “Give Me Back That Old Familiar Feeling” and “I
Wonder Who’s Holding My Baby Tonight”. So popular were they at this point
that they were even playing venues such as The Lone Star Café in New
York, New York.
1984 was a
banner year for Sharon: She
gave birth to Molly Kate Skaggs, was voted Female Vocalist of the Year
(Contemporary) by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in
America, and The Whites were inducted into The Grand Ole Opry.
continued to churn out albums such as Forever
You and Whole New World,
which spawned the top-thirty hit, “It Should Have Been
Easy”. In 1987, Ricky and
Sharon recorded “Love Can’t Ever Get Better Than This”
and won Duo of the Year from the Country Music Association. With 1988’s Doing it by the Book, The Whites
took a turn toward gospel.
Sharon co-founded Teens in Trouble, a self-explanatory non-profit
organization, in 1991.
In 1992, The
Whites made the cut on The Stained
Glass Hour: Bluegrass and
Old-Timey Gospel Music.
They released Give a Little
Back in 1996. In 1997,
Ricky and Sharon appeared on Lee Ann Womack’s self-titled album and Rebel Records: 35 Years of the Best in Bluegrass. In 1998, Cheryl and Sharon joined
Connie Smith for her eponymous CD and Ricky and Sharon contributed tracks
to Transatlantic Sessions 2, Volume 2. The Skaggs also backed up Lee Ann
Womack on 1998’s Some Things I
Know on the track, “When the Wheels Are Coming Off”.
In 2000, The
Whites released A Lifetime in the
Making and sang “Keep on the Sunny Side” on the soundtrack
of O Brother, Where Art Thou?,
which won Album of the Year at the 2002 Grammy Awards. They also took part in the
subsequent Down from the Mountain tour which has been captured in
June 2002, Sharon’s mother Pat died in a Tennessee hospital after
suffering a heart attack. Buck,
Cheryl, younger sister Rosie and Sharon curtailed their road trip to come
home and say their goodbyes. On
5th January 2003, The Whites helped pay tribute to another
important figure in the history of country music, Hank Williams. The 50th anniversary of
his death was commemorated by a variety of artists at the storied Ryman
Auditorium, where The Whites sang “Move it on Over”.
It was a busy
year for Ricky and Sharon: They
appeared on Martina McBride’s self-titled Martina; Ricky produced Love
Never Fails, a gospel project featuring the talents of Sharon, Connie
Smith and Barbara Fairchild; On 11th July, the Skaggs family
rescued a potentially disastrous concert date when Ricky’s band was
stranded on the road after a bus fire; and, inspired by the impromptu
performance’s success, The Skaggs Family Christmas Show was
born. It debuted on 4th
December at the Morton Meyerson Symphony Center
in Dallas, Texas.
August 2004, Sharon had the honour of being one
of a handful of musicians to play Maybelle
Carter’s newly rescued vintage guitar at the The
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee. Ironically, the name of the
Skaggs’ next recording effort was Brand
New Strings. Along with
Cheryl and a host of other recording artists, they helped turn Larry
Sparks’ 40 into Album of
the Year and Recorded Event of the Year at the 16th
International Bluegrass Music Awards on 27th October, 2005.
April 2006, Ricky and Sharon honoured Easter
Sunday by honouring soldiers at Walter Reed Army
Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Ricky Skaggs & The Whites officially released an album together
in 2007, entitled Salt of the Earth. It snagged a Grammy Award in the
category of Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album. On 7th July 2008, they
performed on the nationally televised Front
Row Live, a lynchpin of the Gospel Music Channel.
co-chaired the Music City Inaugural Ball, to help ring in the presidency of
Barack Obama, on 20th January 2009.