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    Skaggs, Sharon White (17 December 1953 – Present)

    Guitarist and 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, Tennessee. 


    An interesting 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 ‘80s. 


    In the 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”. 


    Cheryl, Sharon 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. 


    As 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. 


    The Whites 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. 


    Ricky and 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 documentary form. 


    On 16th 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. 


    On 23rd 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. 


    On 16th 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. 


    Sharon also co-chaired the Music City Inaugural Ball, to help ring in the presidency of Barack Obama, on 20th January 2009. 



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