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Bluegrass Legend Goes Gospel

Of the Oakland Press

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Del McCoury has done quite a bit of pickin’ during his 50-plus years in bluegrass music, including a stint in genre titan Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys.

But this year, McCoury did something new, releasing an allgospel album called “The Promised Land.”

“It’s just something I always wanted to do, but for some reason or another I just couldn’t get it done or get it together,” says McCoury, 67, who’s won nine Entertainer of the Year awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association.

He adds that his previous record companies “were geared to selling secular stuff, so it was a hard sell anyway. I got to thinking that if I ever have my own label, that’s what I’ll do.”

“The Promised Land” is the third release on his McCoury Music imprint, but the singer, guitarist and banjo player notes that it’s not the first time he tried to do a gospel album.

“About 25 years ago, I had one ready,” McCoury says. “I had the record company talked into doing one and everything. It was all working out great. Then our banjo player left the band, which turned everything around. I had to do a regular record and then just couldn’t get the (gospel) record together again.”

Waiting all those years, of course, allowed McCoury to conduct an extensive song search and consider plenty of material. That led him everywhere from the library of the late Albert Brumley to contemporary writers such as Scotty Emerick and Shawn Camp. He also came up with on one of his own, co-writing “Ain’t Nothing Going to Come Up Today (Me and the Good Lord Can’t Handle)” with Jerry Salley.

McCoury says the inspiration for the song came from the backstage area of Nashville’s famed Grand Old Opry.

“Jerry had this idea,” McCoury recalls. “He told me that in Roy Acuff’s dressing room in the Opry there’s a sign on the door that says ‘Ain’t Nothin’ Going to Come Up Today That Me and the Good Lord Can’t Handle.’ I’ve been in that dressing room dozens of times and never noticed it, but it’s there.

“So we wrote the song with that in mind, part of it together and part of it separate. It was a little bit of a struggle, but I’m glad we did it.”

The Del McCoury Band performs 8 p.m. Thursday at The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $25. Call (734) 761-1451 or visit

Web Site: www.theark.org

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