CATCHING UP WITH...JANIE FRICKE

In the 80s, Janie Fricke was one of country's top female stars. Now she's chosen a quieter musical path.

Janie Fricke grew up listening to bluegrass, and now she's putting her roots on record - with her new CD, The Bluegrass Sessions.

"It's really interesting," says Janie. "We took some of my big hits and I redid them in a kind of folky, bluegrass style."

Janie had plenty of big hits to choose from. The album features new versions of her No. 1s like "It Ain't Easy Bein' Easy" and "Tell Me a Lie."

Janie recalls that recording the album brought back memories. "Growing up in Indiana, some of the first music I ever heard was bluegrass," says the two-time CMA Female Vocalist winner. "It was my parents' favorite music. I have also played a lot of bluegrass festivals over the years. So it felt like a natural changeover."

And she loved the change of direction. "It was a really great experience," says Janie. "Some of my earlier hits are harder for me to sing now, because they are real high in pitch. But with the bluegrass style, I could come down a little bit and it actually made them easier to sing."

The new album isn't all that's on Janie's plate these days. She recently appeared on a bluegrass TV special for PBS, along with two GAC shows: the concert special Country on the Gulf and the cooking series Lorianne Crook's Celebrity Kitchen.

"And we're on the road almost every weekend," adds Janie. "We're doing festivals, fairs, concerts - I'm all over the place! It's really remarkable for an artist like myself, who's been around for over 20 years, to be getting this kind of attention."

Janie plans to keep the good times rolling.

"People always ask me if I'm ready to retire and quit the road," Janie says before pausing for a laugh. "But I think I'll be one of those artists who will just sing until they die!"

- BOB PAXMAN

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