Not many artists and musicians can claim the unique history and background in country and bluegrass music that vocalist-banjoist Pam Gadd and her history is impressive. As a former instrumentalist and singer for the Kentucky-based New Coon Creek Girls and The Muddy River Band. Pam brought with her to Nashville her down-home Kentucky roots and deeply inherent love of all things bluegrass and consequently had an affect on the country and bluegrass musical landscape of the early 1990’s.
Pam’s recent project, Benefit of Doubt, wraps years of touring, songwriting and playing with some of bluegrass and country music’s most accomplished mainstays, into a solid musical package that showcases all of her talents in one sparkling solo effort. Dale Ann Bradley, two time winner of the International Bluegrass Music Awards Female Vocalist of the Year says, “Pam has written some of the best songs I’ve ever heard. Her vocals are over flowing with heart and soul. The tribute to the late Porter Wagoner is something that all music pioneers would hope to have said and sung about them after they are gone. This collection is jewel that everyone needs in their treasure chest.”
On Benefit of Doubt, Pam once again features her warm and inviting vocals, her songwriting prowess and pristine banjo playing with a cadre of musical guests including the great Dolly Parton, Steve Gulley (Grasstowne), Marty Raybon, Dale Ann Bradley, Bryan Sutton, Aubrie Haynie, Andy Leftwich (Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder), Wanda Vick, Mark Burchfield and more.
This intensely personal album is full of songs either written or co-written by Gadd who also dug into the deep well of bluegrass music to record songs written by the legendary Jimmy Martin such as “Hold Whatcha Got,” that features guests vocals by her old Coon Creek Girls band mate Dale Ann Bradley and Grasstowne’s Steve Gulley. Dolly Parton makes an appearance on “Applejack” and Gadd releases, for the first time, some of her most intimate writings with such songs as “Black Water Rock,” a song she co-wrote with song craftsman, Jim Rushing that recalls fondly, her father, a championship coon hunter. On “Until She Makes it Home,” Gadd tenderly sings on the topic of aging, inspired by an older friend who once said to her,” You know you’re old, when there’s no one left who remembers you when you were young.” Perhaps one of the most pertinent and touching tributes on the album is the song, “Farewell Wagon Master,” a loving and heartfelt tip of the hat to her former musical partner and Boss man, Porter Wagoner.
Pam’s musicianship and vocal support have been utilized by many artists over the years, including her country recording days on lead vocals, banjo and guitar for Universal/Capital recording artists, Wild Rose.As lead vocalist with Wild Rose, the group had two charted songs in Billboard Magazine.As one of the first country bands to help introduce new audiences to the melding of the bluegrass/country sound, Wild Rose’s innovation earned them a Grammy nomination, a first for an all-female band and an honor that still stands. Their nomination for Best Instrumental Performance in 1990 quickly established each member of the band as a force to be reckoned with as they followed the Grammy nomination up with an Academy of Country Music nomination (ACM) for Best New Vocal Group of the Year.
Three CDs and four videos later, the good-humored Gadd rejoined the New Coon Creek Girls in 1995 – teaming up with, among others, the now-IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year, Dale Ann Bradley. Featured on vocals, banjo and the self-named, “jo-bro” (a Gibson 5-string dobro-banjo), Pam stayed for a year and joined them in filming “At Home in Renfro Valley” before being invited to perform as back-up vocalist with country artist, Patty Loveless for a year-long tour opening for Vince Gill and Alan Jackson.
Leaving Loveless in 1997, Pam launched out on her own to release her first self-produced solo project,The Long Road, on Vanguard Records. Along with this release came a video of her self-penned, “I’d Rather Have Nobody”. She returned to the familiar bluegrass festival circuit touring with her band, The Long Road, named after her CD (and her life), and released a 2nd CD, Time of Our Lives, on OMS Records in 2001.
Both CD’s were critically acclaimed and highlighted her introspective songwriting skills; The Long Road charted in Gavin, and Time of Our Lives made the Bluegrass Unlimited charts with the single, “Virginia Man”. Pam received rave reviews in such publications as No Depression, Bluegrass Unlimited, Bluegrass Now, and Entertainment Weekly. Pam was recognized for her songwriting skills when, in 2002, she was nominated for both Song of the Year and Songwriter of the Year by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music (SPBGMA)held in Nashville each February. She has had songs recorded by country artist, Terri Clark, as well as bluegrass artists, Carl Jackson and John Starling, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, and The Rarely Herd. The Country Music Hall of Fame recognizes Pam’s ability to spark audience interest through regular invitations to conduct banjo demonstrations that include a lecture on the History of the Banjo and a performance which features varying banjo techniques, from 2-finger and claw hammer, to Don Reno, Bill Keith and Earl Scruggs style. Pam cites Earl Scruggs, Eddie Adcock, Walter Hensley, J.D. Crowe, and Gene Parker as strong influences and is now a Deering Banjo endorsee, playing a beautifully-crafted, 2005 Deering Calico. Pam was a weekly guest with the late Porter Wagoner on the Grand Ole Opry and was the last performer to complete a duet CD project with him which was released on King / Gusto Records in 2004. To date she is featured on six Porter Wagoner projects, recording and performing with him until his death in October of 2007.