february 2011


‘A real human being who left no question of where he stood’

A Personal Tribute to Charlie Louvin

By Rhonda Vincent

vincentI grew up singing the songs of the Louvin Brothers, along with songs of most all of the Grand Ole Opry stars, both country and bluegrass.

We took every opportunity to listen to the Opry, and sang and played every day of our lives. I learned to appreciate the magic of these artists, from the sincere admiration of my parents. Even if we saw an artist at a show, it was still as if we were peering through the glass, watching and learning from afar. It wasn't until I recorded my first solo project in 1986, and made a cold call to the home of Charlie Louvin to ask if he would sing on my project, that a connection on a personal level moved me face to face with the greatness of a Star. 

"Hello, I'm Rhonda Vincent. I'm recording your song ‘New Dreams and Sunshine,’ and I wanted to ask if you would sing it with me," is what my shaky voice relayed over the telephone.

Charlie replied, "Now who is this again?"

I said, "I'm Rhonda Vincent and I'm recording my first solo project on Rebel Records, and I love your song ‘New Dreams and Sunshine’ and I wondered if you would sing it with me?"

"When would you like me to be there?" Charlie replied

I was stunned. It was that easy. Just to call a man of such greatness and he would come and sing with me. 

The next week, I was in a Nashville studio singing with Charlie Louvin. This was the beginning of a friendship, and many unexpected surprises from Charlie Louvin and his wife Betty. Charlie booked my family band "The Sally Mountain Show" at his Alabama Bluegrass Festival on several occasions. And when my family hosted their first bluegrass festival in Queen City, Missouri on July 4, 1986, Charlie and Betty Louvin drove their camper to Queen City, Missouri, and performed and camped for the entire weekend.

In fact, he made that trip more than once. We enjoyed his company, and were amazed that such an important star in country music history was so down to earth and willing to help out our family. 

Charlie was a real human being who left no question of where he stood, and always made his opinion and intentions known. I admired his authenticity, and directness, no matter if it might ruffle feathers or the political correctness. I found a kindred spirit in this. 

We will love and miss Charlie Louvin very much, and cherish the memories we have of him.


The Roots World Reacts To Charlie Louvin’s Passing

Exclusive to TheBluegrassSpecial.com

Terry Smith. The Grascals
"Charlie was a great country artist and was one half of the Cadillac of
brother duets with his brother Ira. He was fun to be around backstage with his dry deliveries of stories and humor. He will be missed."

Jamie Johnson, The Grascals
I had lunch with Charlie this past July just after he learned of his cancer and said he was feeling great....had a great time with him. There was a group of "red hat ladies" that came in and they about knocked me over trying to get to Charlie. He smiled at me and said "I still got it! " He'll truly be missed! Hope he gets to sing one with Ira!! Lucky Angels!!

Valerie Smith of Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike and Bell Buckle Records
Charlie Louvin was a true friend, a mentor and a living legend.  I'm truly grateful for the chance to have performed and recorded with him.

Becky Buller of Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike
Louvin Brothers' tunes were always part of the shows my family played around home in Minnesota.  I still can't believe I got to meet one of the men who created that beautiful music, let alone sing and fiddle some behind him and even run into him and his wife Betty at the the post office once in a while. Thanks for the memories, Charlie!

J. Gregory Heinike of Bell Buckle Records and the Bell Buckle Café in Bell Buckle, TN
"Charlie Louvin was an incredible performer that will be missed by many, many fans. I'll particularly miss him because he was one of my very best friends for the last 20 years. It's a hard thing to know that I'll never be able to talk to him again.”

Mike T. Lewis, Twangtown Paramours
"In a world where country music listeners find their genre firmly rooted in ‘80s rock 'n roll, Charlie Louvin will be sorely missed."

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