Hear Andrea Zonn’s Sublime Duet With Vince Gill
In the brooding, intense title track from her inspired — and inspiring — second LP, Rise, fiddle player and vocalist Andrea Zonn sings, “Child, don’t you worry, it’s out of your hands/We all have trials we’re not meant to understand/Still we rise, rise, rise.” It’s a heartfelt, hopeful message made even more poignant by the reality that just a few years ago, Zonn’s now 7-year-old son underwent a series of perilous brain operations.
But far more than just addressing her son or herself with those lyrics, Zonn’s music, a lovely tapestry of Americana, with touches of country, folk, bluegrass and Celtic, taps into listeners’ collective souls, her gentle voice and thoughtful words a soothing balm for difficult times.
“After my son’s medical issues, I was reflecting on that and I just sort of had this emotional landscape,” Zonn tells Rolling Stone Country of the basic idea for Rise, her first album of self-penned tunes, due out on Compass Records September 25th. “It was just this thing that was ready to express how life has been unfolding the last few years. I was quiet for so long because life dictated that, it required that. There was a part of me that felt crazy for taking on something like this now, at this late stage. But at the same time, it was like, why not?'”
Although her first solo recording (also on Compass) exposed the gifted musician to new fans, millions of concertgoers and record buyers throughout the world already know Zonn’s work. She’s been a featured performer (on fiddle and backing vocals) in pop icon James Taylor’s band for more than 12 years. Before that, she toured and recorded extensively with Vince Gill, as well as Lyle Lovett, Trisha Yearwood, Alison Krauss, Jerry Douglas and others, including Linda Ronstadt, Neil Diamond, Mickey Newbury, George Jones and Randy Travis.
Rise, which was cut “at lightning speed,” in Zonn’s words, over a two-day period, includes songwriting collaborations with Kim Richey, Bill Lloyd, Peter Cooper, Thomm Jutz and others, and is also distinguished by the top-shelf vocalists who contribute to the project: Taylor, Gill, Trace Adkins, Mac McAnally and Keb’ Mo’.
“I like to sing with tall, skinny men: James, Trace, Vince, Keb’ Mo’, Mac, they’re all very tall men. I’ve got a type,” Zonn says with a laugh. “It’s like dating drummers, which I’ve finally gotten over, thankfully. One of my better growth spurts, emotionally speaking.”
To her credit, the musicians and singers who lent their talents to the project were more than willing, even if some of them were more challenging to approach, especially her current tour boss Taylor, who just this year earned the first Number One album in his 45-year career.